Buying and Selling

flag Libya Libya: Buying and Selling

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | E-commerce | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier


Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Member of the World Trade Organization (WTO)
International Economic Cooperation
Libya is a member of the Arab Monetary Fund, the Council of Arab Economic Unity, the Islamic Development Bank, OPEC and the AMU. Since 2004, Libya has been an observer at the WTO prior to becoming a member. The country is also part of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA), a pact of the Arab League entered into force in January 2005 which aims to form an Arabic free trade area.
Non Tariff Barriers
Since 2003, importing goods into Libya is no longer subject to import license but all imports must be accompanied by a certificate of origin.

Since January 1998 the Libyan Customs tariff has used the simplified harmonized system. It is prohibited to import seventeen "luxury" or locally manufactured products, and they are set out in a list appended to the decree of the General Popular Committee for Economy and Trade number 475 of July 2005 amending the list published in the decree number 84 of 5 June 2003. For example:
- live pigs, their flesh, fat, and skin and their derivatives.
- wines and alcoholic drinks.
- fresh fruit (citrus fruit, grapes, figs, apricots, watermelons, dates, plums and peaches), olive oil, fresh, frozen, dried or ground vegetables for consumption, except dried pulses.
- natural and sparkling mineral waters.
- traditional clothes.

The General Authority for Control of Commodities and Products created in 2005 and which brings together the National Center for Control of Foodstuffs and Medecines, the Veterinary Quarantine Unit and the Agricultural Quarantine Unit has several offices in the main towns. Its role is to control all imported products, to register them and draw up certifications, etc.

Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
Customs duties on imported goods were abolished on 1 August 2005 and replaced by a 4% tax called "port services tax" which concerns all except 85 products. The latter are also subject to a 2% production tax and a 25 or 50% consumption tax.

Customs Classification
 The latest modifications to Libyan duties date from summer 2005. The general customs duty of 35%  has been replaced by what is known as a “port tax” of 4%.
Moreover, decree number 139 of 25 August 2005 divided 84 products into two lists:
- those that, as well as the port tax of 4%, are subject to a production tax of 2% and a consumption tax of 25%.
- those that, as well as the port tax of 4%, are subject to a production tax of 2% and a consumption tax of 50%.

Decree number 475 of 6 July 2005 specifies the 17 products that it is forbidden to import.

In addition, some products are exonerated from Customs duties, for example, equipment necessary for the completion of a project in Libya (see the Libyan Investment Authority)
For Further Information
Libyan Customs (in Arab)
Ministry of Economy and Trade

Return to top

Reaching the Consumers

Marketing opportunities

Main Advertising Agencies

Return to top

Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
The retail market in Libya remains traditional, with a strong presence of local shops. This is explained by the low purchasing power of Libyans. The explosion of, principally, small shops and businesses is accompanied by a jump in construction across the country, even in some of its poorest and most neglected areas. It is fuelled by increased public sector salaries and 40 years of pent-up demand for western brands and accoutrements. Much of the new business involves sales of imported goods that siphon cash out of the country. It is fed by dramatic increases in public sector salaries and the addition of tens of thousands of militiamen to the payroll of the government, which employs a quarter of all Libyans. Libyan consumers are savouring the flood of new products, services and brands into their long-isolated country. At a local level, Libyans are buying, building and travelling like rarely before.
Market share
 Retailing today still remains under state control. And yet, the Libyan authorities have encouraged the appearance of private operators by abolishing import licenses. The process of privatization has, however, been slowed down by the maintaining of subsidies on certain products, to the extent that today, they remain 90% subzidised and are distributed by the National Supply Company at extremely low prices.

In the large towns, shops resembling supermarkets are appearing: these are small trading companies (100 to 150m²), offering food products (dry and fresh products), and household products. The large foreign retail chains have not yet shown interest in this market, neither are there any local large and medium-sized supermarket chains. Non-food retail commerce has also kept its traditional structure with local shops and souks.

Retail Sector Organisations
The American Chamber of Commerce in Libya
US - Libya Business Association

Return to top


Internet access
Internet penetration has traditionally been very low in Libya. According to the latest available data, the country had 1.3 million internet users in 2016, making the penetration rate 20.3%. Nonetheless, there has been a significant increase in the number of internet users, particularly among youth. Internet freedom has improved in Libya in 2017, due to a reduction in arrests, but politically driven network shutdowns continue, making the internet in the country 'Partly Free'. The ongoing conflict in Libya has badly affected internet access throughout the country, as electricity outages and physical damage to infrastructure limit connectivity. However, overall quality of service and connection speed have improved recently. There are almost 11 million mobile subscriptions in Libya, which represents a penetration rate of 169%. This rise of quality 3G coverage, the introduction of 4G LTE, and lower prices have driven the recent growth in mobile penetration. Most people access the internet from their mobile phone, which accounts for 63% of web traffic. Home and work computers are the next most used devices. However, the cost of home internet connection is still high, making it out of reach for a large proportion of Libyans, particularly those living outside of major urban areas. Limited computer literacy, particularly among women, is still an obstacle to universal access in Libya.
E-commerce market
Libya has been in a state of turmoil since the overthrow of Mouammar Kadhafi in 2011. Consequently, the economic sectors in the country have been suffering for the past seven years, with most foreign investments leaving Libya. The crisis had a severe socioeconomic impact, affecting everyday life in multiple ways. Not only do Libyans have less cash to spend, but they also have less purchasing power given that the cost of living has increased substantially. As a result, e-commerce does not play a significant role in Libya. Informal business dealings have increased, boosting the black market, which is able to deliver certain goods and services otherwise unavailable. However, there are some e-commerce companies in the country, like Libyan Spider and Wecard - which, in collaboration with Amazon UK, allows its customers to purchase items online in Libyan dinars and have them delivered to Libya.

Return to top

Organizing Goods Transport

List of all Libyan ports
List of Libyan airports and links to them

Return to top

Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
Industrial sector represent nearly 80% of GDP. The country has enormous oil reserves which represent about 97% of total export revenue, 75% of government revenue and 54% of GDP. Moreover, gypsum, salt and limestone are produced in significant quantities. Industry is less developed, but the main sectors are oil refining, industrial food preparation, textiles and cement.

Business Directories

Multi-sector Directories
Libyan yellow pages - Business directory in Libya.
Ly-Biz - Libyan business directory

To search directories by industry in Libya, check out our service Business Directories.

Professional Associations by Sector
6 professional associations listed for Libya.
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Libyan Chambers of Commerce

Return to top

Any Comment About This Content? Report It to Us.


© eexpand, All Rights Reserved.
Latest Update: May 2024