By Sami Zaptia.
London, 10 May 2018:
The head of the General Union of Libyan Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Mohamed al-Raeid, predicted a rise in trade between Libya and Tunisia this year due to measures put in place to facilitate trade between the two countries, the Tripoli-based LANA state news agency reported today.
“The volume of trade between the two countries is expected to reach about LD 900 million dinars (US$ 643 million) in 2018, compared to about LD 500 million (US$ 357 million) in 2017’’, he said. Raeid said the reason for last year’s decline in trade was due to security disturbances that led to the closing down of the Libyan-Tunisian land border for a total of 120 days during 2017.
There is a desire to raise the rate of trade in order to return to the natural levels that existed before the 2011, which was then about two billion dollars a year, he added.
The head of the General Union of Chambers explained that there are advantages for Libyans in sourcing goods or services of Tunisian origin from neighbouring Tunisia. These included exemption of customs duties between the two countries as well as proximity and shorter transport distances. Equally, analysis certificates issued by either country are accepted in both countries.
There is also an agreement between the Tunisian and Libyan Central Banks on the opening of documentary letters of credits to Libyan businessmen in hard currency rather than the documentary credits effected in Tunisian dinars previously. These contribute to increasing the rate of trade between the two neighbouring states, he added.
In addition, since April this year, the Central Bank of Libya has instructed Libyan banks to allow the opening of documentary credits or other operations transfer of the permitted import of goods and services from Tunisia in Tunisian dinars under the unified bilateral payment agreement of the Maghreb Union, provided that the goods or services are defined as being of Tunisian origin.