First Tunisian-Libyan business forum held in Tunis
Tunis - Hundreds of Libyan and Tunisian investors and business leaders agreed to launch a number of joint projects during the first forum for their countries’ economic partnership.
The projects include the construction of three markets in Libya to offer Tunisian products.
The forum, November 23rd in Tunis, convened under the aegis of the Higher Tunisian-Libyan Business Council and the Confederation of Tunisian Citizen Enterprises to promote and strengthen commercial exchange and investments between the two countries.
Both Tunisia and Libya have suffered serious economic slowdowns since popular uprisings in 2011.
Higher Tunisian-Libyan Business Council Director Abdelhafidh Sakroufi said markets scheduled to open in Benghazi, Zintan and Khams will constitute “an opportunity for Tunisian investors to boost their business potential through the promotion of exports”.
According to Fawzia al-Houni, president of the Libyan and Tunisian Businesswomen’s Association, the forum will “facilitate economic exchange, trade, export, procurement, investment and overall business relations between Libya and Tunisia”.
She described the launch of the new project as “a good and important step to promote business partnership and economic activity in the two countries”.
Houni stressed the particular role that women could play, pointing out that “circumstances, which have forced Libyan women to live abroad especially in Tunisia and Egypt since 2011, have also equipped them with a greater sense of business initiative”.
Abdul Fattah al-Ghaffar, chairman and executive director of the Federation of Libyan Banks, said the business forum “is important for the two neighbouring countries which need each other in light of the difficult circumstances that they are going through”. The launch of this effort, he added, comes at a critical time for both countries as the Tunisian economy needs “serious rethink and support” and Libya faces hurdles related to its security situation and the formation of a new unity government.
Ghaffar says the rebuilding of Tunisian-Libyan relations is a distinct possibility. Once a new unity government is formed and “as soon as the oil ports are back up and running” in Libya, trade will go back to normal and possibly exceed previous levels, he asserted.
Participants at the forum called for new solutions to stem the decline in economic relations. That includes the establishment of a maritime line to bolster the supply and export of goods between the two countries.
According to Esam Abu Ajila, representative of the Central Bank of Libya (CBL), one of the main impediments to good business relations between Tunisian and Libyan operators has had to do with “delayed payments and remittances”. But he pointed out his banking institution is working on solving these problems.
One of the main objectives of CBL’s participation in the forum was “to confer with businessmen and share experiences with them regarding the means of facilitating trade formalities between the two countries”, he said.