By Houda Mzioudet,
Tripoli, 19 April 2014:
Tunisian business in Libya has not been affected by the recent kidnappings . . .[restrict]of Tunisian diplomats and workers according to a Tunisian diplomat in Tripoli.
There is no evidence of Tunisian workers or companies leaving Libya, Lotfi Chelli, commercial attaché at the Tunisian embassy in Tripoli told the Libya Herald. Despite the absuctions, everything else was normal.
“Tunisian companies will still be participating in the Libya Build exhibition scheduled for 9 May. No cancellations have been recorded,” Chelli insisted.
Trade and business ties have been more affected by the regular closures of the main Ras Jedir border crossing but it is now open. At the end of last year it was estimated that border closures were costing the Tunisian economy TD 15 million (LD 11.7 million) a day because of trucks not being able to take goods to Libya.However, warnings at the time that trade relations between the two countries could collapse altogether if instability continued in Libya turned out to be a wild exaggeration.
Officially, trade between the two countries is worth LD 1.35 billion a year, more than half a billion of it in Tunisia’s favour. However, the financial flow is much larger – from earnings repatriated by the several hundred thousand Tunisian living and working in Libya, earnings by Tunisian service companies, and from smuggling. According to a World Bank report last December, smuggling from Libya and Algeria was worth $828 million (LD 1 billion) last year. Much of it was petrol from Libya.