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Lebanon’s trade deficit widened by 4 percent in the first seven months from a year earlier on higher imports, the Finance Ministry said.

The shortfall was $8.37 billion from $8 billion, the Beirut-based ministry said in an e-mailed statement late yesterday.

Imports rose 5 percent to $10.9 billion, driven by a 52 percent gain in the cost of unwrought gold, un-mounted diamond and precious metals, while pharmaceutical products increased by 19 percent, according to the ministry.

Exports increased 5 percent in the first seven months from the year-earlier period to $2.5 billion as shipments to Arab countries fell.

Bloomberg

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