First Tunisian-Libyan business forum held in Tunis

Friday 27/11/2015
Fawzia al-Houni, president of the Libyan and Tunisian Businesswomen’s Association, speaking at the Tunisian-Libyan Business Forum in Tunis, on November 23rd.

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.