By Libya Herald staff.
Tripoli, 22 August 2014:
The fate of the 200 or so Italian companies in Libya hangs in a balance . . .[restrict]as the nation’s security situation deteriorates and Libyans and expats stream out of the country. The President of the Italian-Libyan Chamber of Commerce, GianFranco Damiano, has suggested that the creation of a guarantee fund could both relieve the financial stress on the companies involved and prevent these businesses from total collapse.
In a letter to Italy’s Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, Minister of Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini, Minister of Economy and Finance Pietro Carlo Padoan, Minister of Economic Development Federica Guidi and concerned Italian companies, Damiano said that the ministers were responsible not so much to help, but to invest in the future.
Offering support to Italian companies in Libya would be essential, not only to the companies themselves, but to the future of Italy, he said. Inaction, he claimed, would yield disastrous effects.
Many of the companies are still owed money — about €620 million — from contracts dating back to the 1990s, Damiano said. While he conceded that there was no simple solution to this problem, he pointed out that there were still several million euros set aside for the Libyan Coastal Highway project under the 2008 Berlusconin-Qaddafi agreement.
Under the 2008 “friendship” treaty between Italy and Libya, Italy committed itself to paying $5 billion over 20 years as compensation for the colonial occupation. The money was earmarked for the construction of a highway along the Libyan coast, which is be built by Italian companies.
More than 180 Italian businesses have taken advantage of the favourable terms of the treaty for trade links, including Finmeccanica, Impreglio and ENI, which has become the biggest foreign energy producer in Libya. [/restrict]