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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


Area (



Libyan dinar 

Col Mu'amar al-Qadhafi


Update No: 017 - (30/03/05)

Big Oil is back
As we noted in the past months Libya has witnessed a dramatic increase in foreign direct investment in 2004. As the table below shows, Libya was the highest recipient, 20% of the total for the entire continent, of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa in 2004. 

Estimated foreign direct 
investment in Africa in 2004
Libya: $4 billion
Angola: $3 billion
Nigeria: $2 billion
South Africa: $1 billion
Rest of Africa: $10 billion
Total: $20 billion (Source: UN)

OIL, Libya Conducts Second Tender
In oil, the Russian Lukoil is bidding at all oil tenders called by the Libyan government, said company president Vagit Alekperov. The oil fields Lukoil is bidding for are part of a second tender for 40 contracts to explore and develop oil and gas prospects. About 120 companies, including currently active players in Libyan fields ENI, Total and BP have offered bids along with 17 American companies including ConocoPhillips, ChevronTexaco, Apache and Marathon Oil. The US Occidental Petroleum received the biggest number of contracts, but other successful bidders included Amerada Hess and ChevronTexaco of the United States, Australia's Woodside Petroleum, Algeria's Sonatrach, a consortium of Oil India Ltd and India Oil Corp., and Brazil's Petroleo Brasileiro/Petrobras. Libya wants to feature more national content in its oil industry and plans to change terms for the next round of oil exploration bids to boost incentives for firms that employ locals and are involved in the downstream oil and gas sector, the oil minister Fathi Bin Shatwan. ear to be simple but substantial," Fathi Bin Shatwan told. 

Libya remains a daunting business investment prospect, but its oil resources could yield substantial gains for those willing to take the risk. Much of the risk remains tied in issues of governance and administration, and while there is little to suggest that Libya will reverse its policy of openness toward the West, its ambitions to develop sectors of the economy beyond oil are still largely unworkable. Libya will have to make substantial changes in its administration to maximize FDI and increase attractiveness to foreign investors. Nevertheless, Libya will have in the coming weeks, the opportunity to demonstrate to the outside world that the image of openness its government, and particularly the Prime Minister Shukry Ghanem and Col. Qadhafi's son Seif-ul-Islam, have been promoting is backed by administrative and legal substance. There has been much pressure on Libya to deal fairly with the question of the appeal hearing in Libya's Supreme Court against the death sentences passed on five Bulgarian nurses, and one Palestinian doctor, for allegedly infecting with AIDS more than 400 Libyan children. Libya's ability and willingness to take the outmost care in this issue will serve as a test, a trial within the 'trial' of sorts, which could significantly reduce the intangible risks of doing business there and attract more widespread and diversified investment. 

On Tuesday, March 29, a five-member panel of the Supreme Cassation Court of Libya will convene to hear the case. The Court will have two months to deliberate and deliver a verdict. The Bulgarians' lawyers Plamen Yalnuzov, Hari Haralampiev, Georgi Gatev and their Libyan colleague will visit the Bulgarian nurses at Judeyda prison on Monday. 
In May 2004 the five Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian doctor were found guilty of having caused the death of 40 children and of infecting more than 400 others with HIV at a Benghazi hospital. They were sentenced to death by firing squad, and though the case clearly did not impede companies from investing in Libyan oil, the sentence has doubtless hampered Libya's efforts to recover ties with the West after decades of isolation. One of the main problems with the trial, is that the verdicts were based on suspect confessions, which many believe, and the nurses themselves have indicated, were extracted under torture. Bulgarian authorities and lawyers, who are familiar with the case and are so certain of the innocence of the nurses that they have ruled out paying any indemnities to Libya, which would be tantamount to acknowledging that its medical workers were guilty. The medical team has already been in jail for 5 years and there are fears that, even if the death sentences are commuted by the Supreme Court, the issue may be dragged in the courts for another 3 years. The United States, which has been moving ever closer to Libya and has announced that its diplomats in Tripoli will be moving to an official facility by the summer (they are working from a Tripoli hotel now), have taken up the Bulgarian nurses' case. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that her government would do everything it could to secure the release of the nurses. 

Lost in Translation?
The fact that US soldiers killed a Bulgarian army officer in Iraq through 'friendly fire' suggests they will likely try hard, as that incident did not play well with most Bulgarians, who oppose their government's involvement in support of the United States in Iraq. Secretary Rice's intervention came as Col. Qadhafi's statements on the matter were apparently misinterpreted by the press. World media reported on Wednesday that the Libyan leader stated he would not release the Bulgarian nurses on the death row in Libya. "Everyone from the West comes to Libya, and says to me release the Bulgarian nurses. This means that our children died and this was not considered as important," Qaddafi told an Arab League summit in Algiers. "I swear to God I will not release them," he was cited as saying. However, just a day later Tripoli officially denied that adamant declaration by Qaddafi and Bulgaria's foreign ministry issued a statement saying the speech, as reported by international news agencies, was not translated properly. The correct translation of Muammar Al-Qadhafi's words are, "In the name of God, officials from the West come to Libya and tell me "we want to take them with us. Release them", is in fact what Qadhafi said, according to the Libyan Embassy in Sofia. Whether the suggestion that the actual meaning of Qadhafi's words were lost in translation is true, seems irrelevant now. The important thing is that Col. Qadhafi is well aware that the world is watching Libya's handling of the trial. For its part, the Bulgarian government is not openly optimistic about the outcome of the trial. Justice Minister Anton Stankov said he does not advise people to maintain high expectations for the possible outcome of the Bulgarian medics case scheduled for appeals hearing on Tuesday. Seif el-Islam Gadhafi, the son of Libyan leader, who has been actively promoting Libya's new image in hopes of attracting business and fostering better relations with the rest of the world, had previously said he expected the appeals court might change the death sentence to a prison term. More to the point, in Tuesday's hearing, lawyers for the defendants have provided the appeals court with new evidence, including claims that the infection occurred before the nurses arrived in Libya. During the trial last year, Dr. Luc Montagnier, the French co-discoverer of the AIDS virus, testified that he believed the children were infected in 1997 - more than a year before the Bulgarians were hired implying that poor hygiene and not the medics' incompetence were to blame for the children contracting the disease. The Libyan court said it would rule the case on May 31. The ruling date gives Bulgaria some additional 'negotiation time'. Indeed, Al-Qadhafi invited Bulgaria's President Georgi Parvanov on an official visit to Libya through the Libyan ambassador in Sofia one day after the 'lost in translation' incident took place. This suggests that there is a willingness to discuss the case of the nurses, if not the Palestinian doctor, found guilty of having infected more than 400 children, some 40 of which have already died with HIV at a Benghazi hospital, at the highest level. 

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