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Mohammad Abdul Karim Raied, the president of the Libyan parliament's Economy, Trade and Investment Committee, gives a statement to Anadolu Agency on Oct. 1, 2020. (AA Photo)

Over 200 Libyan businesspeople, bureaucrats visit Turkey to boost economic ties

Over 200 leading business people and bureaucrats of Libya are expected to pay an official visit to Turkey this month.

The main aim of the delegation is to improve economic ties between Turkey and Libya, Anadolu Agency (AA) said in a report Thursday. The officials are focused on the target of expanding bilateral economic relations to pre-pandemic levels.

The delegation is headed by Mohammad Abdul Karim Raied, who is the president of the Economy, Trade and Investment Committee of the parliament of the United Nations-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) and also the chairperson of the Libya Industry and Trade Chambers Union.

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The delegation will meet with high-ranking officials, politicians, bureaucrats and businesspeople in the Libya-Turkey Trade Forum, set to be held Oct. 15-16 in Istanbul.

The forum will be organized under the leadership of the Foreign Economic Relations Board (DEIK) and the Libya Trade Chambers Union.

Aside from businesspeople from all sectors, Libya’s leading publicly-owned corporations will also attend the meeting with their representatives. The organization will also create a significant trade volume through bilateral meetings.

Nearly 100 production and export companies are also expected to attend the meeting.

Call for Turkish businesspeople

“We hereby call on Turkish companies to attend the meetings in October and to have talks with their Libyan counterparts regarding potential cooperation and joint investments. We also desire to meet the representatives of infrastructure development, residential construction and other sectors. We also invite Turkish companies to Libya to contribute to the reconstruction efforts,” Raied said.

The official added that the infrastructure projects agreed on by both countries and their bilateral trade volume have reached $10 billion (TL 77.1 billion) and that Turkish contractors have undertaken projects in Libya worth over $28 billion so far.

Raied said Libya imported goods from Turkey worth $1.9 billion last year, adding that the conflict and tensions in Libya caused a decline in the bilateral trade volume.

He also underlined that the clashes have caused instability in the Libyan economy and the country is going through some difficulties in exporting oil.

“In the face of all obstacles, the private sector continues to overcome them and acts in the capacity of a problem solver,” he said.

Raied also said that Libyan telecom companies, Libya’s main energy distributor, the Social and Economic Development Fund, the Organisation for Development of Administrative Centers (ODAC), the Libyan Investment and Development Holding Company (LIDCO) and other state enterprises will join the forum.

‘We want to reestablish trust for Turkish companies’

Raied also said that the Libyan companies that will attend the bilateral talks represent many sectors.

“One of our main aims is to reestablish trust for Turkish companies’ return to activities in Libya right after the situation becomes welcoming for business,” he said.

Raied also added that imports from Turkey significantly benefit the goods and services markets in Libya.

“The relaxed procedures and the relative ease of working with Turkish companies play an important role in the facilitation of trade. Besides, the fact that Turkish-made products are quality enough helped replace low-quality Chinese goods in specific market segments,” he said.

‘$10 billion trade volume possible’

The president of DEIK’s Turkey-Libya Business Council, Murtaza Karanfil, also gave a statement, saying that the trade volume will stay in the same ballpark as last year’s figures after a potential recovery from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic in the last quarter of 2020.

Karanfil also underlined that Turkey envisions a $10 billion trade volume with Africa through Libya if investments in the sectors are used properly.

“Development of bilateral cooperation between Turkey and Libya and the continuation of business deals without pause are extremely important for the reinstatement of Libya’s sustainable development policy. Turkish businesspeople employ their culture of ‘win-win’ wherever they go, and this is the same for Libya,” he said.

“We cannot ignore the need and possibilities in this field. We believe that Libya will develop much more if the business world takes reciprocal steps,” Karanfil added.

A memorandum of understanding (MoU) recently signed by Turkey and Libya to boost trade and economic ties has been approved, Turkey’s Official Gazette announced Sept. 15, a constructive step toward the Tripoli government’s aim of rebuilding its civil war-torn country.

According to the deal, both governments emphasized the importance of continuing the execution of development projects in Libya, taking into account the country’s stability and laying foundations for a genuine bilateral partnership.

Turkey and Libya signed the MoU, which was set to lay the groundwork to resolve ongoing issues between Turkish firms and Libyan employers, on Aug. 13.

With the MoU, many projects lie ahead for Turkish businesses in the Maghreb country, including those already initiated such as rebuilding and resuming the activities of the construction sector, which have been halted due to the ongoing conflicts.

Turkey’s business relations with the North African nation are not limited to the construction sector, though it has had a large share of the pie. The cooperation in the oil and gas sector has also gained momentum, especially after the two countries in late 2019 signed a pact on maritime borders in the Eastern Mediterranean.

Foreign sales to Libya stood at $2 billion in 2019 with a 29% increase compared with the previous year but were still less than the 2013 figure of $2.7 billion before civil war broke out in the country.

With strong ties dating back to the Ottoman era, Turkey and Libya last November signed an agreement on maritime boundaries, along with a separate agreement on security and military cooperation. Turkish Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank, Libyan Central Bank Gov. Saddek Omar el-Kaber and Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) Chairperson Ali Mahmoud also signed an economy and technology cooperation protocol in September.

Libya’s government, formed in 2015, in the wake of the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, has faced a number of challenges, including attacks by putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar.

In recent months, however, the U.N.-recognized GNA has turned the tide against Haftar’s forces.

Ankara supports the GNA and a nonmilitary resolution to the crisis.

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