Libyan legislative body okays free trade zone

Libya's main legislative body has approved a law setting up a free trade zone on the country's Mediterranean coast, Saadi Gaddafi, a son of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, told Reuters yesterday.

The zone will have free movement of capital and goods, its own courts and a stock exchange, and investors there will benefit from a 10-year tax holiday, according to a copy of the law seen by Reuters.

The zone will stretch about 100 km along the Mediterranean coast from Mellitah, west of Tripoli, to the border with Tunisia.

Dubai-based developer Emaar Properties signed a memorandum of understanding with Libya in 2006 on setting up a joint venture to develop part of the free trade zone. The firm has not said if it is still committed to the project.

The idea of the free trade zone has been in development for several years, but progress has been slow.

Saadi Gaddafi, a businessman who is likely to be director of the zone's board, said the zone was needed to stimulate investment outside Libya's oil and gas sector. Although Libya has other sources, we still depend primarily on oil," he said.

"We have to take care of industry, foreign investment, tourism and we also have to search for other sources… anything that makes Libya depend on sources other than oil," he said.

 

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