By Moutaz Ali
Tripoli, 24 May 2017:
Italy’s ambassador Giuseppe Perrone said today that boosting Libya’s economy is a key factor to achieving reconciliation.
He was speaking at a forum organised today by the Libyan Businessmen Council (LBC). A number of Libyan businessmen was invited to meet with Perrone to talk about the difficulties facing them in trading with Italy and to look at ways to enhance cooperation in the private sector of both countries.
Perrone told the Libya Herald this is a very important opportunity because Italy is keen to bolster its bilateral trade.
“Of course as we know there are difficult security circumstances in some areas of Libya” he said, “but we were touched today by the strong will from Libyan and Italian businessmen to enhance the commercial cooperation and resume historic relations, especially in the private sector which is the basis of the economy.”
He continued: “Today I have seen businessmen from different sectors and I think it is possible to strengthen cooperation between Italy and Libya. There are new circumstances but this requires more stability which must be gained in Libya,” he added.
LBC chairman Abdalla Fellah said he was grateful for the efforts Italy was making in Libya.
“At first we as LBC, the sole legitimate body for the Libyan businessmen thank Mr. Ambassador for opening the Italian embassy in Tripoli which is starting to issue visas directly to Libyans from here. It is a clear message to the international community that Libya now is secure”.
He told this newspaper: “We have demanded Italy, as a prime commercial partner of Libya, to focus on the private sector for cooperation in Libya. This sector is the future. Also we have asked them to choose the Italian business delegations very carefully and avoid those who came with just a carpetbag looking for fast and suspicious business deals”.
Fellah continued: “We have made it clear before that we are in need for real businessmen to invest in Libya and to partner us in great and strategic projects such as ports, airports, roads, power stations and other infrastructure projects which is what really we need in Libya.
“Moreover, we have demanded they ease visa procedures, launch direct airline connections and activate the convention signed between both countries in 2008.”
Today’s forum followed a meeting earlier this month between Perrone and Fellah.