4th March, 2020
A high-level briefing on the emerging opportunities in Libya was hosted by the Arab British Chamber of Commerce on 4th March with H E Mr Ali Al-Issawi, the Minister of Economy of the State of Libya.
The briefing was attended by potential investors, business executives, diplomats, members of the Chamber and others keen to learn more about the many opportunities in this important Arab economy. The Chamber was joined by H E Mr Yousef Bin Ali Al Khater, the Ambassador of Qatar to the UK and Sir Vincent Kean KCVO, Chairman of the Libyan British Business Council, who were among the many dignitaries in attendance.
The Minister was welcomed and introduced by Mr Bandar Reda, ABCC CEO and Secretary General, who chaired the discussion. Mr Al-Issawi began by stating that Libya was still in a transition period recovering from the 2011 revolution, but it was looking with confidence to the future.
He explained that what made Libya distinctive and attractive for doing business was the incentives that it offered to investors. He pointed to its excellent location as a gateway to trade with Africa and close proximity to Europe. The countries of Europe were the premiere trade partners for Libya, the Minister said. Its geographical position had long made Libya a transit point for the trade in goods moving from Europe to Africa. Businesses were attracted by the low transport costs and the strong infrastructure in Libya and it was keen to see this role increase in future years.
The trade agreements that Libya had signed between countries in the region helped facilitate the easy flow of trade in transit from Libya. This access to regional markets was an added advantage of trading with Libya.
The Minister stressed that Libya had a young population, 70% of whom were active in the labour market. The country needed to equip its citizens with new skills that were needed to enable them to achieve success in employment and business. Such a need meant that Libya offered significant opportunities for investment in education and training.
Libya had been adopting a series of reforms since before 2011 that were impacting on how business could be carried out. These were gradually opening up the economy to greater private sector involvement.
The progressive withdrawal from the state from the economy had started with the retail sector and was continuing, the Minister indicated.
New institutions had been established to attract investors such as the stock exchange which could be used to bring in much needed finance for the many projects that needed investment.
Financial reforms in 2018 had opened up the country to access to foreign currency, which would help facilitate investment for new projects.
Libya was opening up infrastructure projects to the private sector by introducing Public Private partnerships (PPP) for the first time.
In the health sector, Libya was introducing health insurance to generate the funds needed to build new hospitals and other healthcare services.
The Minister invited British investors to partner with Libya to develop the infrastructure that the country needs. He indicated that UK firms could look in particular for promising opportunities in the plans to develop solar energy and build new seaports and airports.
Libya was working closely with the World Bank and IMF to improve its attractiveness to investors. Preparations were underway to list Libya in the forthcoming “Doing Business” report which lists countries according to their ease of doing business.
The potential of Libya was very high, the Minister stressed, pointing to the plans being prepared in all sectors to highlight the most promising projects to investors.
He stressed that as it was not possible for the government to finance all the development plans that Libya needs, it was looking to attract private investors by use of various means of alternative financing such as sukuk and PPP.
The various projects that Libya requires begins with transport, but it also includes housing schemes, hospitals, schools and universities.
The Minister believed that the prospects for UK-Libya bilateral trade had improved in the light of Brexit. A free trade partnership had become more easier to conclude and would bring mutual benefits.
Libya had established free zones to make it easier for investors and was looking to attract more foreign companies. A new free zone in Benghazi would help improve trade with those African markets that were seeking to obtain goods from sources in Europe.
Mr Bandar Reda enquired if Libya possessed a one-stop shop to which investors could turn to obtain information needed to pursue opportunities in the country. In reply, the Minister pointed to the existence of the Foreign Direct Investment Authority which had been established to assist investors.
It was stressed that foreign investors are not always required to obtain a local partner and 100% foreign ownership was possible. Companies seeking to work in the country were invited to turn to the Ministry of Economy to obtain approval for their projects.
Numerous questions were raised by the attendees who were keen to do business with Libya now and in the future.Back To 2020 Gallery