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[Source: NUSACC's U.S.-Arab Trade Outlook 2013]

In October 2010, NUSACC organized a high-level trade and investment mission to Libya. This was the third such delegation NUSACC has led since full diplomatic relations between the United States and Libya were restored in May 2006.

David Hamod, NUSACC’s President and CEO, noted that with each visit, Libya’s private sector has shown a greater willingness to work with American companies. H.E. Mohamed Ali El Huwej, Libya’s Secretary of Industry, Economy and Commerce emphasized the growing importance of Libya’s business community and indicated that steps are being taken to facilitate bilateral trade relations – such as simplifying tax codes, reducing bureaucratic red tape and enacting consumer protection laws.

The United States and Libya signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in May 2010 – a major step toward re-establishing normalized trade and investment ties. The first U.S.-Libya TIFA Council meeting focused on market access, intellectual property rights, capacity building, and scientific cooperation.

Building on such agreements is crucial as Libya seeks greater U.S. involvement in its ambitious energy and infrastructure plans. According to the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, the Hon. Gene Cretz, “Libya plans to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in housing and infrastructure, health, education and commercial projects over the next five years.”

More than 250 infrastructure development projects concentrated in residential housing and transport are now underway. Libya plans to rationalize air services by merging the two national air carriers – Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah Airlines – into one airline. It will also expand refining capacity by upgrading the Azzawiya refinery.

Libya’s ambitious 2010-2013 Industrial Development Plan is intended to boost manufacturing. 2,191 projects are geared to jumpstart economic development and provide 25,000 jobs. The plan includes 331 food-processing plants, 89 textile and weaving mills for readymade clothing and shoes, 23 factories that will manufacture building materials, 56 chemical plants, 176 timber mills and 484 other types of factories. Production will be located in eleven regions rich in natural resources, from Syrte (central Libya) to Tabruk near the eastern border with Egypt.

Libya has a great demand for oilfield and engineering services. According to the Oil and Gas Journal, Libya possesses the largest oil reserves in Africa – around 44 billion barrels – as well as approximately 54 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves. In 2009, total oil production (crude plus liquids) was approximately 1.8 million bpd, less than half the levels recorded when production peaked in the late 1960s.

The National Oil Company (NOC) production goal is to bring capacity back up to 3 million bpd by 2017. According to BDP International, a Philadelphia-based project logistics and transportation management services company, Libya will need to invest $30 billion to reach these production levels.

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