EUROMED: MED COSMETICS, TRADITIONAL NEW TRADES TOWARDS EU
From the old workshops of Tripoli, in the north of Lebanon, or Aleppo, in northern Syria, olive oil soap and other ointments from the East are now within reach of European consumers thanks to the efforts of Med Cosmetics, a project financed by the European Union as part of the Invest In Med programme.
The project, which lasted from May 2010 to March of this year, and saw the involvement of around 150 representatives from Lebanese, Syrian, Jordanian and European companies, is part of European plans to develop sustainable trade routes between producers on both sides of the Mediterranean.
"The main aim of our work has been to strengthen the long-term capacity for production and product export and the ability for Lebanese, Syrian and Jordanian companies to promote their brands through business-to-business meetings, workshops and conferences held in Beirut, Damascus, Aleppo and Paris," says Aline Farajan, the director of Med Cosmetics for Lebanon.
Syria, Lebanon and Jordan have more than 600 companies exporting around 42,000 tonnes of industrial cosmetics every year and around 45,000 tonnes of natural soaps. "This richness needs to be strengthened and publicised to foreign markets, just as local businesspeople need to know the rules in order to sell products better abroad," Farajan tells ANSAmed.
The culmination of the work carried out by Med Cosmetics came in meetings organised during the 2010 edition of Beyond Beauty Paris, which was held in September last year. "Around 50 European representatives met around 30 Lebanese delegates, 60 Syrians and a delegation of Jordanian producers," says Farajan, a researcher at the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Beirut and Mount Lebanon (CCIB). Beyond the CCIB, the project was also partnered by the Syrian centre for business affairs (SEBC) and the Jordanian business development association (JEDCO).
The project also featured a study into cosmetics production in Lebanon and Syria and a workshop in Damascus, during which local businesspeople were shown new technical and administrative procedures in force in Europe.
"Cosmetics was chosen by the organisers of the project because of its great potential for market expansion. Lebanese and Syrian producers are known for their lengthy tradition in crafts, particularly olive oil and laurel soaps, which are increasingly in demand on the European market," Farajan says.
Each year, the Invest In Med programme, which began in 2008 and will continue throughout 2011, provides a network of contacts between operators in the sector from all 27 EU member states and nine partners on the southern shores of the Mediterranean. With regard to results obtained by Med Cosmetics, Farajan says that "between March and today, a number of important cooperation agreements have been signed between local and French companies.