Turkey and Libya have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to boost trade and economic ties, Turkey's trade minister said Thursday.
The deal will lay the groundwork to resolve ongoing issues between Turkish firms and Libyan employers, opening paths to new investments and new projects, Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan told a meeting in the capital Ankara.
Pekcan discussed how some construction projects started by Turkish companies in Libya had recently been interrupted. "There were uncertainties regarding the completion of these projects, and Turkish companies had remaining receivables in these projects," she said.
Pointing to the brotherly ties between the two countries, Pekcan said this was also reflected in their bilateral economic and trade ties.
Turkey’s exports to Libya stood at $2 billion ($11.89 billion) in 2019 with a 29% increase compared to the previous year but was still less than the 2013 figure of $2.7 billion before civil war broke out in the country.
Turkish companies set to begin new projects to meet Libya’s needs will support the country's stability and development process besides helping raise the general welfare, Pekcan said. "This process will be a new opportunity to show the whole world Turkish-Libyan cooperation."
Turkish companies quit the Libyan market in 2018 when three engineers were kidnapped. The engineers were held hostage for eight months before being released.
Before Turkey officially threw its support behind the U.N.-backed Government of National Accord (GNA), led by Prime Minister Fayez Sarraj, Turkish builders had worked on dozens of projects in the country. The backlog of Turkish contract work there amounts to $16 billion, sector officials earlier said.
A large share of contracting pie
For his part, Libya's planning minister, Al-Hadi al-Taher al-Juhaimi, stressed the importance of the deal to clear up pending issues between Turkey and Libya.
Praising the Turkish contractors' works in Libya, al-Juhaimi said Turkish firms are behind 20% of the investment projects in the country.
"We may call this the lion's share," he stressed.
After Libya ends its domestic crises, the country will focus on new development plans, he noted, adding: "We trust Turkish companies and are willing to partner with them under this development plan."
With strong ties dating back to the Ottoman era, Turkey and Libya last November also signed agreements on maritime boundaries as well as security and military cooperation.
Libya's government, formed in 2015, in the wake of the ouster of longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi in 2011, has faced several challenges, including attacks by putschist Gen. Khalifa Haftar.
In recent months, however, the U.N.-recognized government has turned the tide against Haftar's forces.
Turkey supports the government based in the capital Tripoli and a nonmilitary resolution of the crisis.
With Turkish help, the GNA halted an assault on Tripoli and in recent months pushed back Haftar's forces, which are supported by Russia, France, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Egypt.