Thursday, 15 September 2011

Foreign trade missions increasing in numbers as fighting subsides

It is reported that foreign trade missions are increasing in numbers as the fighting subsides. Despite the clear call by most European embassies for their respective nationals to avoid going to Libya until a settlement is reached, the situation on the ground is such that the northern Tripolitanian coastlands are returning to a form of normality as far as business is concerned.

Pent up demand for imported spares and equipment, in addition to foodstuffs and medicine, is noted by recent visitors to Tripoli. Regular air service is being resumed between Benghazi and destinations in Turkey. It is hoped others will follow in the near future.

The areas of unrest are sufficient to make Libya a considerable risk, and the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the National Transitional Council (NTC) requires that great care is taken by foreign staff.

A co-ordinated attempt is being undertaken by UK businesses to stabilise their financial situation in respect to ongoing projects within the country. Other countries with a strong presence in Libya, including Russia and China, as well as traditional EU trading partners, are taking up positions in preparation for the repair of the shattered infrastructure.

Professional assessments of the situation have considerably downgraded the danger of operating in Libya. This should show further improvement once the battle for Tripolitania and Fezzan is over.

It will be a test that will determine just how far the NTC is in charge if contracts signed in current conditions remain applicable, although existing pre-revolutionary commercial agreements remain in force. It is not clear how much and how fast the government is providing funds for this activity.

It will be necessary for foreign companies to check with great care the legality of any contracts with Libyan entities in order to ensure that authorisation will be given for transfer of funds on completion of projects.

For more news and expert analysis about Libya, please see Libya Focus and Libya Politics & Security.

© 2011 Menas Associates

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