Rush for Libya goldmine as £200bn comes up for grabs

Libya could be one of the world's biggest growth areas for UK firms, as the Government here calculated £200 billion of contracts are expected to go up for grabs there over the next 10 years.

Companies in sectors ranging from oil and gas to medical equipment are now aiming to win a share of that.

UK Trade & Investment, the government department which promotes business abroad, said it is working with the National Transitional Council in Libya to ascertain how British firms can help with the reconstruction of the country. A spokesman said no state contracts could be awarded until after elections in the country, which should be held within 80 days of liberation being declared. "There are big opportunities out there," a UKTI spokesman said, referring both to the rebuilding which is required after the damage from the conflict and the development the country would have needed anyway.

Although oil and gas are the biggest areas of opportunity, Libya urgently needs help in construction, education, IT, telecoms, civil engineering and sanitation. Financial services and banking should also be growth areas.

"A priority for the NTC is getting healthcare to help those wounded in the conflict. Hospitals need to be rebuilt and equipment is in short supply," said the UKTI. The NTC has said existing contracts signed by the old regime would be honoured if they had been "obtained legally".

The Libyan British Business Council cautioned that there would be "significant new challenges" to doing business in the country. However, it stressed that Libya, before the conflict, had consistently been ranked as North Africa's top performing economy.

(Source: London Evening Standard)

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