By Adam Nathan.
Sir Vincent Fean (pictured on right), Chairman of the Libyan British Business Council (LBBC), has called for the creation of a dedicated Trade Envoy to Libya.
Britain currently has Sir Jeffrey Donaldson as UK Trade Envoy to Egypt and Dr Andrew Murrison as UK Trade Envoy to Morocco and Tunisia, but no dedicated Trade Envoy to Libya, despite the war-torn country having the 8th largest oil reserves in the world and a history of strong economic cooperation with British companies.
Fean, also a former Ambassador to Libya, also called on businesses to call on the government for a restoration of UK export finance cover. “The dust in the ointment of this happening is the debt owed to some UK companies and I hope this can be easily settled,” he told the Libyan Reconstruction and Investment Forum.
Fean said that the British embassy, which is slowly relocating back to Tripoli from its current base in Tunis, needed additional resources, for the UK trade and investment effort. “We need more Libyans talking about trade with Libya,” he said.
Sir Henry Bellingham MP, former Minister for Africa, backed up Sir Vincent. “We want our government to get its act together on export finances and I am going to be pushing very hard.”
The investment conference held sessions on Health, Energy, Oil and Gas, ICT and Transport & Infrastructure:
- Health: UK Trade representatives sought to highlight UK competence in the medical field, pointing out that there is a huge shortage in medical and pharmaceutical supplies in Libya.
- Energy: A deal was announced by the British Ambassador during the event to turn back on a 70Mw facility in southern Libya, which has been experiencing power outages. The facility is run by Aggreko, a UK company based in Glasgow.
- Oil and Gas: The National Oil Corporation (NOC) plans to rebuild the oil and gas sector in Libya are viewed as a key investment opportunity for British companies, so long as the risks of operating can be mitigated.
- ICT: UK companies such as BT and Vodafone are keen to operate in Libya. Vodafone recently held a workshop in Tunis to ascertain how they could help Libyan phone company Al Madar to improve its infrastructure and chain value for money.
- Transport & Infrastructure: British company Arup is in ongoing consultation on the Tripoli Metro Project and UK companies could play a key role in airport construction projects and aircraft engine supply.
Peter Meyer, Chief Executive of the Middle East Association (MEA), one of the co-organisers of the landmark Lancaster House event, said:
“It’s been an extremely positive conference, and we don’t want to stop here but to work with the LBBC to build several future events with more developed sector implications for Libyan-UK trade.”
Adam Nathan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and +44 7900 783662.
(Picture: Developing Markets Associates)