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Key Economic Data 
  2002 2001 2000 Ranking(2002)
Millions of US $ 34,137    34,136 57
  n/a     n/a
GNI per capita
 US $
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Libya


Area (



Libyan dinar 

Col Mu'amar al-Qadhafi


Update No: 011 - (04/10/04)

A Formal End and an Official Beginning for Relations With the West
In September, Libya made important strides toward securing full diplomatic recognition both with its European neighbours and the United States. While the dismantling of the US embargo earnestly began in April of this year, there were remaining issues. With the recent US announcement, the United States has formally ended Washington's trade embargo, which affected general trade, aviation and the importing of Libyan oil while the European Union agreed to lift all pending sanctions on Libya. The process had begun in the spring but some obstacles remained; notably, an exception to full normalization brought forth by Germany, which demanded compensation for a nightclub terror attack in Berlin in 1986 - the very attack that would prompt the US bombing of Tripoli that year.

In September Germany and Libya agreed to a deal which obliged Libya to make an initial payment of $15m by the 8th of September. The payment was delayed and raised German concerns. However, Libyan officials have assured German officials that the sum had been deposited. Two further payments are due to be made by 1 March of next year. The compensation deal was signed on 3 September by a son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi and a team of German lawyers. This agreement removed one of the last obstacles to Libya's international rehabilitation opening the way to formalizing the agreements concluded at the end of September. Nonetheless, Libya will remain on Washington's list of state sponsors of "terrorism", and was subject to relevant sanctions. American officials have also stressed the fact that the US diplomatic mission in Tripoli does not enjoy full diplomatic status and that it is merely acting as a liaison office. While, some terrorism related restriction will prevent a complete normalization of Libya's relationship with the United States, as far as Europe is concerned senior diplomats have noted that there are no longer sanctions left against Libya. The EU resolutions freeing Libya from the punitive diplomatic regime that has existed for almost 20 years are widely expected to be approved on October 11th at a meeting of EU foreign ministers. By all accounts, Libya has been fully rehabilitated in the international community.

In more practical terms the diplomatic agreements reached in September vis--vis Libya's relationship with the United States and the European Union mean that Europe will finally be able to sell Libya the promised military equipment it needs to upgrade its armed forces. Moreover, Libyan Airlines, the national Libyan carrier, will be able to secure upgraded equipment and new airliners. The oil industry will also benefit from Libya's newly won ability to import drilling equipment heretofore considered to have strategic dual-purpose characteristics for military use. Europe's largest defence company, BAE Systems of Britain, was very pleased with the recent developments, as it sees a clear opportunity to expand the current negotiations concerning the renewal of the civil aviation infrastructure to the development of a defence market.

In August, the Italian minister of the Interior Pisanu visited Libya to discuss measures to curb the flow of illegal migrants boarding boats to reach Italian shores from the Libyan coastline. Libyan officials were concerned that the Libyan military infrastructure was unable to cope with this problem lacking the patrolling tools - adequate vehicles and boats - to monitor the coastline and land borders. Many migrants are willing to endure very precarious conditions and filter into Libya from the vast open borders along the Sahara from such countries as Chad or Niger. The Italian government had conceded to Libya's requests for new equipment and the new diplomatic climate will enable Italy, and the EU, to move swiftly in that direction. Nevertheless, EU officials said arms exports to Libya would still be limited by an EU code of conduct barring the sale of equipment that could be used in domestic repression or regional conflicts - not exclusive to Libya. Conveniently, it helps that the diplomatic arrangements with the United States have also provided for the unfreezing of Libyan assets held in the United States. 

Italy builds concentration camps again
While the new diplomatic arrangements will facilitate Libya's relationship with the 'West' Italy was the country that has vied most decidedly in favour of full rehabilitation of Libya because it maintains interests with Tripoli comprising oil and trade, as well as immigration control. Indeed, the internal Italian political reality has benefited Libya indirectly. Prime Minister Berlusconi's government coalition includes the volatile Lega Nord, which favours strong immigration controls. Recently, under the influence of the Lega Nord members of parliament, Italy has adopted a controversial legislation - the so called Bossi-Fini - which imposes harsher penalties for those involved in illegal immigration and makes expulsions easier to process. The law has been questioned on a number of human rights concerns and the Italian government has consequently been under pressure to find concrete solutions to the immigration problem. The new laws have not had any curbing effect on immigration and holding centers in Sicily and on the island of Lampedusa have witnessed untenable conditions, as the number of migrants arriving in makeshift boats leaving from the shores of North Africa, reached a critical point in during the summer. Along with plans, now enabled by the removal of all sanctions, to provide Libya with new land and sea based patrolling equipment, the Italian interior minister Pisanu has proposed the creation of asylum camps in Libya itself. Berlusconi and Col. Qadhafi had discussed this plan during their August meeting. The idea, had originally been proposed by Britain, and was revived by Italy and Germany, but it does not enjoy unanimous support at the European level. 

The proposal will be discussed by EU Interior and Justice ministers in the coming weeks, while Amnesty International - which was allowed to discuss human rights issues with Libyan officials last spring - has already voiced its concern citing Libya's human rights record. Sweden, and France have also offered their scepticism regarding this proposal. The main issue for concerned parties revolves around the provision of adequate protection measures for the asylum seekers. Libya has had a very controversial record on its management of the illegal immigration phenomenon, which became highly contentious in the mid-90's. Conditions in Libyan detention centres, such as the infamous Janzour prison outside Tripoli were notoriously bad and in 2002 the situation worsened with frequent riots resulting in many deaths between African immigrants and Libyans in the Girgaresh district of Tripoli. To quell concerns, the Italian government is planning to send 150 police officers to Libya to help train their Libyan counterparts. The training exercises are expected to last one month and are likely to start in November. The police presence will be complemented by the sale of Italian airplanes, boats, 4WD vehicles and helicopters to be used directly to aid in the curbing of illegal immigration before the problem reaches the human traffickers on the shores of the Mediterranean. There is another less evident issue concerning the perception of Italian run camps in Libya. The camps will no doubt remind Libyans of the last time that Italy ran what will, in practical terms, look like the concentration camps of the Italian colonization between 1911 and 1943. The United Nations objects to the camps being located outside of the EU. Germany had envisaged such camps to be placed in Morocco and backs the initiative, which was first proposed by PM Tony Blair. The new EU Justice Commissioner Rocco Buttiglione, a member of Berlusconi's Casa delle Liberta' coalition, also backs the plan. 

Meanwhile, as the EU, Italy and Libya move forward with the camps and the new immigration measures, 402 illegal migrants have evaded the controls and landed on Lampedusa island in the night between the 29th and the 30th of September. This will now doubt give further impetus to Minister Pisanu and the EU, which considers the illegal immigration phenomenon a time-bomb. 



Financing six investment projects in Libyan oil and gas

The secretariat of Libya's General People's Committee held a meeting Sunday dedicated to discussing the ways and means to financing six investment projects in oil and gas fields in Libya, reported recently.
The meeting was attended by the secretary of the Libya's General People's Committee, the assistant secretary of the committee, the secretaries of the General People's Committees for Planning, Economy, Trade and Energy, the governor of the Central Bank of Libya and the secretary of the National Oil Corporation as well as a number of experts and specialists in oil and investment affairs.
The participants discussed the ways and means to implement these six investment projects by borrowing from domestic national resources.
General Peoples Committee sources revealed that convening this meeting of the secretariat on this respect, comes after feasibility studies conducted on these projects showed encouraging economic potential, warranting their implementation, financing and speeding up their execution through domestic borrowing.
The source indicated that the total implementation cost of these projects was 3642 million dinars . The projects are:

- Development of oil discovery project .. MN (186) Murzeq basin.
- Development of oil discovery project N (86) D ..Murzeq basin.
- Expanding the coastal gas supply network.
- Development project of the eastern region of al- Bury oil rig.
- Project for the development of the Feel field in the M.N 174 region at Murzeq basin.
- Gas development project in the West of Libya.

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