By Michel Cousins.
Paris, 9 April 2016:
The Franco-Libyan Chamber of Commerce (CCFL) held its annual members meeting in Paris on Wednesday at . . .[restrict]which cautious optimism was expressed about the latest political developments in the country.
French ambassador to Libya Antoine Sivan briefed those attending about the current situation. They were also addressed by the chambers’ president, Jérôme Barthe, from GE Energy Connections.
The chamber, founded in 1971 and the oldest in France to deal with an Arab country, includes many major French corporations among its members, such as Vinci, Veolia, Alcatel, Total, Sanofi and Thales, as well as numerous French official organisations. Some 75 participants attended the meeting.
According to Barthe, who took over the CCFL presidency last year, there is renews interest in Libya and cautious optimism as a result of the arrival in Tripoli of prime minister-designate Faiez Serraj. “Members are encouraged,” he said.
Despite the political difficulties, French exports to Libya performed well last year, CCFL’s deputy president Ahmed Jalaleddine noted, although they were still down on the €1-billion figure prior to the revolution. Even so, they were worth over €700 million in 2015 compared to €400 million in 2014. The latest figures included final payments on aircraft for Libyan Airlines and Afriqiyah Airways as well as pharmaceuticals, food, and telecom and electricity industry equipment.
According to Jalaleddine, members were now waiting to see what happens next. No business delegation to Libya was envisaged at present, and there would be no such visit until the French embassy reopened and there was security and stability in the country. “Security is the keystone” to future activity, Jalaleddine said.
Yesterday, French foreign minister Jean-Marc Ayrault indicated he wanted Ambassador Sivan, currently based in Tunis, to return to Tripoli as soon as possible so that France could provide what help it could to the national unity government.
Ayrault had been speaking by phone to Serraj, and during the conversation, according to a French foreign ministry spokesman, he congratulated him on starting his administration in Tripoli. Ayrault also “reaffirmed France’s total determination to support the national unity government”, the spokesman said, “and noted that France was ready to respond to calls for help by the government of Faiez Serraj, notably on security supplies, in cooperation with its partners and the United Nations”. [/restrict]