A memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by Turkey and Libya last month to boost trade and economic ties has been approved, Turkey’s Official Gazette announced Tuesday, a constructive step toward the Tripoli government’s aim of rebuilding its civil-war torn country.
According to the deal, both governments emphasized the importance of continuing the execution of development projects in Libya, taking into account the country's stability and laying foundations for a genuine bilateral partnership.
Turkey and Libya signed the MoU, which was set to lay the groundwork to resolve ongoing issues between Turkish firms and Libyan employers, on Aug. 13.
With the MoU, many projects lie ahead for Turkish businesses in the Maghreb country, including those already initiated such as rebuilding and resuming the activities of the construction sector which kept halting due to the ongoing conflicts.
DEIK Turkey-Libya Business Council Chairman Murtaza Karanfil, who is also a Libya representative of the Turkish Independent Industrialists and Businessmen's Association (MÜSIAD), previously said the total value of the projects completed abroad by the Turkish construction sector is $428 billion (TL 1 trillion), and Libya has a $29 billion share in this, despite the incomplete projects over security reasons, which are now projected to continue.
During the meeting in which the MoU was signed, Libya's Planning Minister al-Hadi al-Taher al-Juhaimi said the country plans to kick off 184 new projects, prioritizing infrastructure, health and education and has allocated a $16 billion budget for this.
Turkey’s business relations with the North African nation are not limited to the construction sector, though it has had a large share of the pie. The cooperation on the oil and gas sector has also gained momentum especially after the two countries in late 2019 signed a pact on maritime borders in the Eastern Mediterranean.
Karanfil said recently that Libyan authorities have invited Turkish gas and oil companies to Libya, “stressing that Turkish energy companies have not been able to not get the necessary share of oil and gas reserves in the country and should receive a higher share.”
Turkey’s exports to Libya are also not at the desired level. The foreign sales to the country stood at $2 billion ($11.89 billion) in 2019 with a 29% increase compared with the previous year but were still less than the 2013 figure of $2.7 billion before civil war broke out in the country.
With strong ties dating back to the Ottoman era, Turkey and Libya last November signed an agreement on maritime boundaries, along with a separate agreement on security and military cooperation. Turkish Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank and Libyan Central Bank Gov. Saddek Omar el-Kaber and the Libyan Investment Authority (LIA) Chairman Dr. Ali Mahmoud also signed an economy, technology cooperation protocol earlier this month.
Libya's government, formed in 2015, in the wake of the ouster of Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, has faced a number of challenges, including attacks by putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar.
In recent months, however, the U.N.-recognized Government of National Accord (GNA) has turned the tide against Haftar's forces.
Ankara supports the GNA based in the capital Tripoli and a non-military resolution to the crisis.
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