MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH IN INDO-LIBYAN TRADE AND ECONOMIC RELATIONS – LIBYA LIFTS BAN ON IMPORT OF TEA – COOPERATION IN OIL AND GAS, POWER TO BE STEPPED UP
Date : 11 Oct 2002
Location : New Delhi
In a major breakthrough in Indo-Libyan trade ties, Libya has agreed to lift a ban on import of Indian tea, with the Libyan purchasing agency – NASCO – now registering Indian companies who have applied for registration with them for all commodities including tea and are willing to register more Indian companies to participate in the new tenders to be issued by Libya. Further, both countries have agreed to increase the volume of bilateral trade which was estimated at US $ 20 million in 2001-02 and is growing at an impressive rate of over 40% during the current year but is still below the potential. In this context, both sides have exchanged a list of tradeable goods, which includes several agro-commodities so as to diversify and enhance the two-way trade. In another significant development, India and Libya have agreed to intensify cooperation in power, oil and gas (hydro carbons) and infrastructure sectors including railways. The Libyan side has invited Indian experts to participate in its future power projects and also to participate along with international companies in tenders floated from time to time by the Railway Board of Libya. In the oil and gas sector, Libya has agreed to expedite approvals to enable ONGC Videsh to join exploration projects in Libya. This is indicated in the Agreed Minutes of the 8th Session of Indo-Libyan Joint Commission, which concluded here this evening and were signed by Dr. Raman Singh, Minister of State for Commerce & Industry, on behalf of the Government of India and by Mr. Saad Mustafa Mujber, Assistant Secretary for Cooperation Affairs, on behalf of the Libyan government. During his visit, Mr. Saad Mujber called on the Deputy Prime Minister, Shri L.K. Advani and held discussions with the Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Shri Ram Naik; Minister of Agriculture, Shri Ajit Singh; and the Minister of Heavy Industry & Public Enterprises, Shri Balasaheb Vikhe Patil, among others.
An Agreement on Bilateral Investment Promotion & Protection (BIPA) has also been reached and initialled by the two delegations during the Joint Commission Session to promote and protect investments by investors of both the countries. Both sides have also agreed to explore the feasibility of setting up of joint ventures in Libya as well as in other countries of the African Union. Further, recognising the need to explore the establishment of direct air links between the two countries to foster closer relationship, both sides have agreed to initiate talks in this direction.
Noting the scope for cooperation in the heavy industries sector, Libya has proposed that India should participate in the joint operation of existing industries as well as investments in industrial projects and has submitted a list of projects to the Indian side in this regard. Responding to India’s interest in executing new road and port projects in Great Jamhiriya, Libya has expressed willingness provide information regarding its new road and port projects in due course and also welcomed participation of Indian companies in the building material industry, including technical and managerial assistance to Libyan cement plants.
Issues of settlement of outstanding dues of Indian companies and those relating to manpower and visa matters were discussed during the Joint Commission. India has urged Libya to give priority to Indian manpower and underlined the need for the settlement of dues of Indians working in Libya. The Libyan side promised to refer the Indian proposal to the concerned authorities. Responding to the concern expressed by India over the problems being faced by Indians for obtaining visas, Libya has expressed willingness to facilitate the required procedures. Cooperation in a number of other sectors was also discussed covering agriculture, tourism, science & technology, health, information & culture, education and financial cooperation.
Both sides have agreed to hold the next session of Indo-Libyan Joint Commission in Tripoli in October 2003.