Economic and Political Overview

flag Libya Libya: Economic and Political Overview

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline | COVID-19 Country Response


Economic Indicators

Libya's economy is almost entirely dependent on oil and gas exports, which account for approximately 95% of exports and government revenue. In 2020, the economy experienced a significant contraction due to an oil blockade and a decline in oil prices. This led to widening external and fiscal deficits, along with decreasing foreign exchange reserves. However, more recently, a rebound in oil prices and the resumption of oil production have resulted in budget and current account surpluses in both 2021 and 2022. Gross domestic product, closely linked to oil production, remained volatile throughout this period. According to the latest IMF estimates, GDP growth reached 12.5% in 2023 and should record increases of 7.5% and 6.9% in 2024 and 2025, respectively, although risks are tilted to the downside.

Since the revolution, there have been significant fluctuations in oil production and revenues. Despite these challenges, the Central Bank of Libya (CBL) has successfully maintained a substantial stock of international reserves. This has been achieved through a combination of a fixed exchange rate, capital controls, and temporary arrangements. Notably, Libya does not have any public debt and relies on monetary financing to cover deficits during years when oil revenues are insufficient to meet expenditures. Government spending is largely allocated to public sector salaries, with roughly 2.2 million people, accounting for one-third of the population, nominally employed by the public sector. Higher oil prices, increased production, and improvements in the security situation bolstered revenue in both 2021 and 2022. This positive trend more than offset the impact of removing a tax on foreign exchange transactions following the devaluation. Consequently, there were limited capital spending and fiscal surpluses in both years, amounting to USD 4.4 billion in 2021 and USD 6.4 billion in 2022 (IMF). Inflation has risen from 1.5% in 2020 to 4.5% in 2022, largely due to rising global food-price inflation, and was estimated at 3.4% in 2023 by the IMF.

Continued inflation and low oil production exacerbated poverty in a country already ravaged by civil war and repeated terrorist attacks. The Tripoli government has implemented an active policy of job creation, especially in the public sector, but, according to the Ministry of Labor, the unemployment rate reaches 20%, and about half of all young people and a quarter of women remain without employment.

Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 43.2945.0148.2250.5652.29
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -8.310.
GDP per Capita (USD) 6,3886,5766,9757,2417,414
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP)
Inflation Rate (%)
Current Account (billions USD) 12.407.069.8310.519.38
Current Account (in % of GDP) 28.615.720.420.817.9

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database , Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

Libya's 6.7 million population includes a workforce of 2.3 million. Agriculture's share in Libya's economy is negligible, accounting for 1.6% of GDP and employing 9% of the workforce (World Bank). Main products include wheat, barley, olives, dates, citrus, vegetables, peanuts, soybeans, and cattle. Arid climate conditions and the poor quality of the soil severely limit agricultural production. The primary limitation on agricultural production is the landscape, with only approximately 12% of the total 15.4 million hectares being arable. While 470,000 hectares are deemed suitable for irrigation, only around 240,000 hectares are presently irrigated, primarily due to apprehensions regarding the depletion of underground water sources. Cereal crops are grown in coastal regions, where rainfed production or cropping with supplemental irrigation is feasible, as well as in certain arid areas in the south, under complete irrigation.

Industry is the backbone of the Libyan economy because of the strong petrochemical industry. It accounts for 80.3% of GDP, employing 23% of the active population (World Bank). Production includes petroleum, petrochemicals, aluminium, iron, steel, food processing, textiles, handicrafts, and cement. Manufacturing is underdeveloped (3% of GDP). Although the Libyan petrochemical industry, especially the country's petroleum exports, were negatively impacted by the pandemic and the drop of oil prices, the sector showed signs of recovery: Libya's state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC) announced that the country had extracted over 432 million barrels of crude oil in 2023. Additionally, NOC reported production figures for other petroleum-related products, including nearly 1.24 billion cubic meters of natural gas, almost 2.43 million tonnes of condensates, almost 6.17 million tonnes of petroleum products, and 682,595 tonnes of petrochemical products for the same year.

Services account for 25.2% of GDP and its share in total employment stands at 68% (World Bank). Although this is the second-largest sector in Libya, significant industries, such as tourism and retail, are significantly underdeveloped. Financial services and transportation, however, account for a significant part of the service sector. According to the IMF, as of 2023, Libya's banking sector is described as rudimentary. The country hosts 20 banks, with their combined assets totaling around LYD 143 billion. Loans and credit facilities make up less than 15% of the total assets in the banking sector, while the majority, approximately 60%, consists of balances held at the Central Bank of Libya (CBL).

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 16.3 19.3 64.4
Value Added (in % of GDP) 1.6 80.3 25.5
Value Added (Annual % Change) 10.0 -9.9 15.0

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


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Monetary Indicators 20162017201820192020
Lybian Dinar (LYD) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 MUR

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.


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Business environment ranking


The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.

World Rank:

Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit - Business Environment Rankings 2020-2024


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.


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Foreign Trade in Figures

Trade has been an important element of the Libyan economy since the early 2000s, peaking at 108% of GDP in 2009, before the country became embroiled in another civil war. Nevertheless, its share recovered slightly in the last few years and, according to the latest available data, it reached 78% in 2021 (World Bank). Main exports included crude oil, refined petroleum products, and natural gas (94% of total exports, UNCTAD), as well as gold, iron, and copper. Significant items of import include refined petroleum, automobiles, transmission apparatus for radio-telephony, rolled tobacco, and medicaments.

As a member of organizations such as the Arab League, the African Union (AU), and the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), Libya engages in multilateral discussions and initiatives aimed at fostering cooperation and economic development. Additionally, Libya has historically participated in regional trade agreements, including agreements within the Arab world and Africa, to promote trade relations with neighboring countries. However, due to political instability and conflict in recent years, Libya's active participation in international trade organizations and agreements has been limited. The country is not a member of the WTO. The country’s main export partners are the European Union (60.1%), China (22.5%), the United Arab Emirates (4.1%), the United States of America (2.7%), and Australia (1.9%), whereas imports come chiefly from the European Union (32.2%), China (15.7%), Turkey (13.2%), the United Arab Emirates (8.6%), and Egypt (5.3% - WTO, latest data available).

Libya's economic growth was suspended in 2011 due to the eruption of the civil war. The conflict halted commercial activities, especially exports of oil. In addition, economic and trade sanctions imposed by Western countries before the fall of Colonel Gaddafi significantly hampered trade. According to the last available data from the WTO, goods exports increased by 12.7% year-on-year in 2022, totaling USD 37.6 billion, while imports grew at a faster pace (+70%), reaching USD 29.6 billion.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20192020202120222023
Imports of Goods (million USD) 22,69412,91217,43229,63420,523
Exports of Goods (million USD) 29,0589,31233,41737,68635,270
Imports of Services (million USD) 7,6425,18600n/a
Exports of Services (million USD) 26822600n/a
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 1.42.9n/an/an/a
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -13.0-52.6n/an/an/a
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 35.4n/an/an/an/a
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 42.8n/an/an/an/a
Trade Balance (million USD) 11,332164n/an/an/a
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) 3,958-4,797n/an/an/a
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 78.2n/an/an/an/a

Source: WTO – World Trade Organisation ; World Bank , Latest Available Data


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Main Services

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministry of Finance (in Arabic)
Ministry of Economy (in Arabic)
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Arabic)
Statistical Office
Bureau of Statistics and Census Libya (in Arabic)
Central Bank
Central Bank of Libya
Stock Exchange
Libyan Stock Exchange
Search Engines
Libya search engines
Economic Portals
General portal

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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
Chairman of the Presidential Council: Mohamed al-Menfi (since 15 March 2021)
Prime Minister: Abdul Hamid Dbeibeh (since 15 February 2021)
Next Election Dates
The country's legislative elections were scheduled to be held on 21 December 2021. However, on that day, the head of the High National Election Commission (HNEC) ordered the dissolution of the electoral committees nationwide, which led to the indefinite postponement of the elections.
New parliamentary elections were scheduled to be held in 2022, however, on 23 January 2022, Prime Minister Abdulhamid Dbeibeh called for a constitution to be established before holding the delayed presidential and parliamentary elections. Since then, the voting has not taken place and both elections have also been postponed indefinitely.
Main Political Parties
Libya's Government of National Accord (GNA) was formed as an interim institution in the aftermath of the civil war. GNA has faced competition from the Tobruk-based Libyan National Army (LNA), despite having been recognised by the UN as the legitimate ruling body. In March 2021, the House of Representatives, previously loyal to the LNA, approved the formation of a Government of National Unity, which has the task of unifying two rival forces.

The largest political forces in the country include:
- National Forces Alliance (NFA): liberal, moderate coalition comprising at least 58 parties, holds almost half of parliamentary seats
- Justice and Construction Party (JCP): right-wing, abstains from government, large Muslim Brotherhood faction, Islamist, can no longer operate openly
- National Front Party: centre-left, liberal, progressive
- Union for Homeland: centre, localist, populist
- National Centrist Party: centre, nationalist, Islamic democracy, Islamic liberalism
- Homeland Party: conservative, Islamic democracy.
Type of State
The legal system in post-revolution Libya is undergoing constant change, influenced by both governmental and non-governmental entities.
Executive Power
Previously, the Libyan regime and, in particular, its political and economic system, was based on the Green Book, the founding work of Colonel Gaddafi, who saw in this book a third universal theory of synthesis between liberalism and Marxism.

Since the civil war and the political change that followed, the UN recognised the Libyan Transitional National Council (TNC) as the legitimate governing authority for Libya until an interim government is in place. The TNC was followed by the Government of National Accord (GNA), which has faced competition from the Tobruk-based Libyan National Army (LNA), despite having been recognised by the UN as the legitimate ruling body. In March 2021, the House of Representatives, previously loyal to the LNA, approved the formation of a Government of National Unity, which has the task of unifying two rival forces.

Legislative Power
Previously, the legislature was unicameral in Libya. The parliament consisted of the General People's Congress (GPC). Its members were elected representatives (called secretaries) of around 600 local bodies called ‘basic popular congresses', and served a term of four years.

The High Council of State acts as an advisory body aiming to reunite the Tripoli-based government with the Tobruk-based House of Representatives. The Council is able to advise both the interim Government of National Accord (GNA) and the House of Representatives (HoR), and its 145 members were appointed by the remaining members of its predecessor, the Libyan General National Congress.


Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:

Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Not Free
Political Freedom:

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House


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COVID-19 Country Response

Travel restrictions
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test and vaccines requirements is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
To find information about the current travel regulations, including health requirements, it is also advised to consult Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on a daily basis by IATA.
Import & export restrictions
A general overview of trade restrictions which were adopted by different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) undertaken by the government of Libya, please consult the country's dedicated section in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For an evaluation of impact of the Covid pandemic on SMEs and an inventory of country responses to foster SME resilience, refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.


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Latest Update: May 2024