Libya: a mixed bag
It has debt levels to die for and huge amounts of oil, but economically it’s lagging and political concerns remain. Speakers at a Libyan trade and investment forum this week saw the North African country as a mixed bag.
Robert Tashima, an editor for Oxford Business Group, highlighted the country’s “elephantine” levels of FX reserves, and the privatisation of 80 companies so far, with telecoms and steel sales slated for this year.
Rory Fyfe, an economist with the Economist Intelligence Unit, said he expected the country’s budget to remain in surplus and inflation under control, and pointed to high levels of non-oil growth, but said the economy should be doing better than it is.
Charles Gurdon, managing director of Menas Associates, said in his presentation on politics that the lack of a designated successor to Muammar Gaddafi, who has led Libya for over 40 years, could lead to violence.
Abdulmagid El-Mansuri, chairman of the industry ministry’s foreign investment advisory committee, said the country was privatising at a pace and was also allowing joint ventures with international firms, such as soon-to-be-announced joint-venture licenses for foreign banks.
But perhaps indicating the sensitive nature of Libya’s political system, he said Gurdon’s decision to include pictures of Gaddafi and key family members in his presentation was “completely outrageous”.