Libya, an oil-rich nation that recently got out of international isolation, is again hoping to attract Finnish companies to trade with the country.
There is plenty of need for repairs in Libya after the long period of embargo. The oil production facilities of the major petroleum producing country are not up to present standards, information technology is in its infancy, and few homes have been built in over a decade. Promised economic reforms are barely starting.
Golden memories of the 1970s and 1980s lurk in the backs of the minds of many Finnish companies. In the 1980s Finnish companies had 20 massive construction projects in Libya, and hundreds of Finns worked in the country. During that time Libya was the third-largest target of Finnish construction exports - right after the Soviet Union and Iraq.
There were sometimes difficulties in getting payment for the projects. Libya still owes Finnvera half a million dollars. Helsingin Sanomat was told by a top official at the Libyan Foreign Ministry in December that the debt would be paid, but that it still requires some red tape.
The re-establishment of economic relations between Finland and Libya is starting almost from scratch. Nokia has already set up a one-person office in Tripoli. In the autumn the company received an order for a mobile phone network worth 120 million US dollars.