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Key Economic Data 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
Millions of US $ 19,131     71
GNI per capita
 US $ n/a n/a
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Libya


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Libyan dinar 

Col Mu'amar al-Qadhafi

Update No: 023 - (03/10/05)

Still sponsoring terrorism?
Libya is still on the U.S. list of state sponsors of terrorism -- despite having met the criteria for removal and the two countries still do not have full diplomatic relations, even as the promise of such an occurrence has lingered for the almost two years that the United States reopened state level contacts between the two countries in December 2003. For the United States, Qadhafi's stated renunciation of "weapons of mass destruction" served as a model to coerce other countries such as North Korea, Iran and increasingly Syria (see latest Syria update) and all so called rogue states to emulate Libya in order to earn the trust of the United States and the priviliges it entails. However, there are signs that only slow progress is being made toward the stablishment of full diplomatic relations between the two countries. Last September 17, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with her Libyan counterpart, Abd al-Rahman Shalgam. Ms. Rice "reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to working to broaden and deepen the relationship between Libya and the United States." Some US senators such as Richard Lugar (D), who is also president of the Senate Foreign Affairs Commission, urges the administration to accelerate the normalization process. He notes that removing Libya from the list of state sponsors of terrorism is mandated by law. In fact, he adds, "the administration has acknowledged that Libya has not been involved in terrorism since before December 2003. This is a far longer period of non-involvement than the six-month-minimum required for removal from the list". 
It is widely acknowledged in Washington that the reason for Libya's 'hold'position on the list of terrorism sponsoring states is that of a reported plot to murder then crown prince Abdallah (now King Abdallah) of Saudi Arabia in the summer of 2004. The claim has never been proven to be valid, in the form of an actual trial and King Abdullah himself pardoned the would-be assassins held in Saudi jails. The king also said that full diplomatic exchange between Libya and Saudi Arabia would be restored. Lugar said "it would be odd indeed if the United States were more insistent on pursuing this matter than are the Saudis themselves". American economic instituions such as the Export-Import bank are forbidden from supporting private sector investment in Libya (it is possible for individual private companies to invest, however). This adds risks for investors and places undue obstacles on trade and cooperation. As long as Libya remains on the terrorism list, U.S. economic institutions such as OPIC and the Export-Import Bank cannot support American private-sector investment in Libya. Meanwhile, in a further diplomatic opening president Bush asked for US companies to work with Libya to destroy its stockpile of chemical weapons, as part of Libya's disarmament process, while also waiving restrictions so that Libya can refurbish eight C-130 military cargo aircraft the country bought in the 1970s. Libya bought the aircraft, but never took possession, as the planes have been stored in the US.
Nevertheless, another potential obstacle has emerged in September offering some explanation for the Libya's 'terrorism supporting' status. Families of seven Americans who were killed in the attack against the "DC-10" plane of the French carrier UTA in 1989 asked the federal court in Washington to hold Libya responsible for the killing of the 170 passengers of the plane in September. The plane was flying between Brazzaville, (now in Dem. Republic of Congo) and Paris on September 19, 1989 killed all 170 passengers of 17 various nationalities. In absentia in 1999, a French court sentenced six Libyans including the brother in law of the Libyan President Mu'ammar al-Qadhafi to life imprisonment. After 16 years, the French establishment responsible for following up the case announced it was authorized in distributing Libyan compensations estimated at USD 170 million for 92 of the families of the victims that Libya had paid in 2004.
One possible move Libya could make, to accelerate the advancement of diplomacy with the United States, is to resolve the issue of the Bulgarian nurses held in a Benghazi jail since 1999 over allegations of having infected over 400 babies with AIDS. The issue has had growing international repercussions, as the European Union has also put pressure on Libya to resolve the issue by freeing the nurses and a Palestinian medical doctor. Libya has delayed an appeal - expected in November, and suggests Bulgaria pay compensation to the families of the victims, in what is essentially a blood money solution or 'diya'. Bulgaria has rejected this proposal, suggesting that paying the diya would amount to an admission of guilt for the nurses, which Bulgaria has deemed innocent from the start of the debacle. AIDS experts testified at the trial of the workers that the HIV infections occurred at the Benghazi hospital due to unsanitary conditions and practices by hospital staff, and that they occurred before the foreign workers arrived there, but a Libyan court in 2004 found the workers guilty and sentenced them to death. Subsequently, after the nurses accused the Libyan Police of torturing them into making confessions, the Police in question ere tried and acquitted on the remarkable grounds that they couldn't have used torture, "as torture doesn't "exist in Libya." The issue has reached the United Nations, where Bulgarian foreign minister Ivailo Kalfin told his Libyan counterpart at the General Assembly meeting last week that his country would not pay "blood money" to the families of the HIV-positive children because the health workers had committed no crime and were not responsible for their infections. The issue is also important as far as relations with the European Union are concerned, as Bulgaria is slated for entry into the union, and the application of the death sentence would be seen as a breach in EU - Libyan relations. 

Oil is still the Main Game in Town - the Second Round of Bidding Begins
Libya will host a new bidding session for oil and natural gas concessions concerning 26 fields. Libya will auction permits on Oct. 2 for a total area covering some 100,000 square kilometers, as the country wants to attract $30 billion of investments to double production this decade to 3 million barrels a day, as projected shortly after the lifting of most US sanctions in 2004. The bidding session will start in a particularly favorable climate - for OPEC anyway - as a growing worldwide demand for crude oil pushed prices to beyond $70 a barrel on Aug. 30, and persist in the high $60 range. The first bidding session was in January and American oil companies were awarded the lion's share of the contracts. European and Japanese oil companies had expressed strong interest then, but were defeated - like many of the Europeans - by Occidental. Japan's interests will also be represented by Japan Petroleum Exploration Co., or JAPEX, Teikoku Oil Co., trader Mitsubishi Corp. and Mitsui Oil Exploration Co., an affiliate of trader Mitsui & Co. Inpex Corp. and several other Japanese firms are slated to participate in Sunday October 2's bidding. Not a single European company won a permit in Libya 's first bid round. British Petroleum (BP) estimates Libya's reserves total 39.1 billion barrels, giving the North African country the world's ninth largest reserves. BP, which secured exploration rights thanks to a direct effort by BP CEO Lord Browne to discuss the concession with Libyan leader Col. Qadhafi in the summer. 
The contest will be tough. JAPEX, which is very keen to get a foothold in Libyan oil exploration, will have to compete against at least 60 other bidders, which are just as eager. The world's biggest energy companies, including Exxon Mobil Corp., BP Plc and Chevron Corp, are among the companies in contention. Libya's National Oil Corporation (NOC) told Bloomberg that 12 companies from the United States have asked for bidding packages. Nineteen from Europe, 16 from Asia, five from former Soviet Republics, four from Canada , four from Australia , one- from South America and one from Africa - Algeria's Sonatrach. The European companies which are most likely to participate in the coming bidding include BP, Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Total SA, Eni Spa, Statoil ASA, Norsk Hydro ASA, Repsol YPF SA, RWE-DEA AG, BG Group Plc, Gaz de France, Wintershall AG OMV AG and AP Moller-Maersk A/S. 
Other possible bidders are Canada 's Petro-Canada, Talisman Energy Inc., Nexen Inc. and Verenex Energy Inc., Australia 's BHP Billiton Ltd., Woodside Petroleum Ltd. and Oil Search Ltd, Russia 's OAO Gazprom, OAO Lukoil, OAO Tatneft and Itera Holding Ltd, and Ukraine 's NAK Naftogaz LTkrainy. It is also noteworthy that India and China's largest oil companies, Oil and Natural Gas Corp. and China National Petroleum Corp., are among 16 Asian companies on the bidding list, as well as Malaysia 's Petroliam Nasional Bhd and Indonesia 's PT Pertamina. Speaking to the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) at the recently concluded 18th World Petroleum Congress (WPC), the official from Libya's National Oil Company (NOC), Tareq Hassan Bek, said Libya has been encouraging international oil companies to invest in the much-needed explorations because only 37 percent of Libyan areas have been explored. Bek also noted that, by exploiting new fields, Libyan oil reserves are expected to increase by 70 billion barrels to reach 105 billion barrels.

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