By Sami Zaptia.
London, 14 June 2021:
Zuwara Municipal Council reported Wednesday that it held a consultative session to discuss the Zuwara – Ras Ajdir Free Zone project.
The session discussed the latest developments on the project and the decision to assign a founding committee to it. The session heard views, opinions and consultations on the negatives and positives and the effects that the project may cause and the desired results from it.
During the session, it was agreed to intensify efforts and work in a common direction and to call for more meetings for all segments of society and to expand the base of participation in these meetings and the role of civil sectors and institutions in working with the Zuwara municipality in this file.
It was revealed that the Mayor of Zuwara had recently met the Minister of Economy and Trade Mohamed Hwej and discussed with him the ‘‘special nature’’ of the free zone and the possibility of activating the (Qaddafi-era) law issued in this regard.
It was also revealed that the Zuwara Mayor had requested from the Economy and Trade Minister to make a presentation of the Free Zone project to show the Municipality’s civil societies and the general public which the Minister agreed would be prepared in the coming days
Libya’s Free Zone laws
It will be recalled that the law for the Zuwara Free Zone was issued during the Qaddafi regime.
The Free Trade Act of 1999 created a legal framework for establishing offshore free trade zones in Libya. The Libyan General People’s Committee’s Law (168) of year 2006 established the Libyan Free Zones Board to supervise and run all the intended Libyan free trade zones. Law (215) of 2006 established the Zuwara-Abu-Kammash Free Trade Zone and Law (32) of year 2006 established the Misrata Free Trade Zone.
‘‘Special nature’’ of the free zone
It must also be kept in mind that at the time (2006) of the publication of the Zuwara Free Zone law, the ‘‘special nature’’ of the zone was widely understood that the Free Zone would be allowed to sell alcohol – even though it was never specifically mentioned.
The Free Trade Zone entity was headed by one of Qaddafi’s son, Saadi, at the time and was to include a Libyan-Tunisian tourism area on the border area. Work started on a 60 by 30 kilometre stretch of land along the Mediterranean coast between Zuwara the island of Farwa close to the Tunisian border.
There had been an announcement that the project was assigned to Dubai’s construction giant Emaar Properties which had started on master-plan proposals.
The project, however, ran into difficulties with locals who resisted the state’s attempt to confiscate their land.