By Alessandra Bocchi.
Tunis, 2 February 2017:
Italy needs to ease and speed up the visa application process for Libyan businessmen and women if trade ties are to expand, the Italian-Libyan Chamber of Commerce has said.
The call came at a seminar organised by the chamber, held today in Rome at the Libyan Academy.
The aim of the event, entitled “Time for Action”, was to establish new targets so as to increase Italian-Libyan economic and commercial partnerships and, in so doing, help develop better security in Libya.
The issuing of visas, it was said, was needed so that Libyan entrepreneurs and specialists could collaborate more closely with Italian companies. The seminar proposed creating a separate visa system between the two countries that would operate in parallel to the current EU Schengen agreement.
As to the present system, attendees heard from Mario Sabato of Banca UBAE, 68-percent owned by the Libyan Foreign Bank, that in March Italian consular officials currently still in Tunis would move back to Tripoli – a move that would help speed up visa applications.
They also heard from the president of the Italian-Libyan Chamber of Commerce, GianFranco Damiano, that Italy now had a unique commercial role to play Libya. This, he said, was because other European countries were now focussed elsewhere.
The problem, though, he claimed, was that Italian politicians were refusing to deal with the lack of credit now facing some Italian companies trying to deal in Libya. This was hampering their Libyan activities and partnerships according, Damiano explained.
There was, nonetheless, fresh interest in Libya and in joint ventures with Libyan entrepreneurs.
“We are waiting to see if this spring will bring peace in a united country, and that our business ventures can contribute to a more prosperous and peaceful future in Libya,” he said.
For his part, the Libyan ambassador for Italy, Ahmed Safar, stressed that Italian companies’ involvement in Libya would play a part in stabilising the country by bringing economic development through new job opportunities.
In regard to the visas issue, although nothing been formally stated by the Italian authorities, Libyan officials have separately told the Libya Herald that they too have been informed by Italian diplomats that the embassy’s consular section will reopen soon.
They also say that they have been told by the same diplomats that direct flights from Rome to Tripoli will restart shortly.