flag Libya Libya: Investing

In this page: FDI in Figures | What to consider if you invest in Libya | Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment | Investment Opportunities

 

FDI in Figures

Libya's development has traditionally relied on a number of positive factors, such as the abundance of oil and gas resources, a young and relatively small population (6.5 million inhabitants) and a strategic geographical location between Europe, Africa and the Gulf Region. Nevertheless, the ongoing civil war, along with the country's bureaucratic burden, low-skilled workforce, and very low level of economic diversification constitute severe challenges. The 2021 World Investment Report published by UNCTAD estimated Libya's 2020 FDI stock at USD 18.5 billion, while there were no reliable data concerning FDI inflows in the report.

Libya's industrial sector is based on oil refining, petrochemicals and iron & steel. Foreign investment mainly targets the oil industry and is vulnerable to the changes in the market. As central Tripoli comes under greater threat of devastation, other parts of the country appear to be attracting investment. Misrata, once known internationally for suffering a protracted siege in 2011, is once again a bustling commercial centre. Benghazi has received significant foreign investment to rebuilt the city the long conflict. By contrast, the last Doing Business Report published in 2020 by the World Bank, ranks Libya as the 186th easiest country to do business in out of 190 countries. Transparency International also ranks Libya as the 7th least transparent country (173rd out of 180) in its 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index.

 
 
Foreign Direct Investment 201820192020
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 000
FDI Stock (million USD) 18,46218,46218,462
Number of Greenfield Investments* 221
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 1,023700

Source: UNCTAD - Latest available data.

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

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What to consider if you invest in Libya

Strong Points
Libya's main strong points in terms of attracting FDI are:
- Its geographical location: the country is in the centre of a triangle formed by Europe, Africa and the Arab countries of the Middle East;
- Considerable natural ressources;
- Liberalisation policies which favour private investment and should revitalize Libya's economy;
- Low level of foreign debt;
- Its dynamic demography.
Weak Points
Libya's main weak points impeding FDI are:

- Political instability and ongoing violences in Tripoli, which continue to threaten the democratic process of elections (the country remains divided into the western territory managed by the government of Tripoli recognized by the international community, and the eastern territory under the tutelage of the government of Al-Beida supported by Marshal Haftar).
- The south of the country faces the proliferation of trafficking (humans, weapons, drugs)
- Omnipresence of the State in the economy;
- The country's extreme dependency on oil resources;
- An inefficient administration which hinders the development of the private sector;
- Lack of loans and a control of prices and exchanges, constraining economic growth;
- Imports restrictions causing shortage of basic goods and food products;
- A high unemployment rate, estimated to 25%, mainly among the youth.

Finally, even if Libya's rehabilitation in the international community has given confidence to investors, structural reforms remain essential.
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI
The business environment in Libya is very unfavourable and the country ranks at the 185th spot according to the 2018 Doing Business Report of the World Bank.

The Lybian Investment Law is designed to encourage the investment of national and foreign capital in Libya. Tax benefits are granted to companies that can contribute to the diversification of the local economy, the development of rural areas, the increase of employment, etc. The tax exemptions applicable to companies registered/governed by the Investment Law include a five-year exemption from income tax; an exemption from tax on distributions and gains arising from a merger, sale or change in the legal form of the enterprise; an exemption for profits generated from the activities of the enterprise, provided the profits are reinvested; an exemption from customs duties on machinery and equipment; and an exemption from stamp duty. A free zone has been established in Misrata (Qasr Hamad port area).

Foreign investors in Libya are required to have an agent in the country; in addition, it is difficult to find a good business partner and there is an absence of reliable statistics for marketing studies. Through the Law n°5 of 1997, amended by law n°7 of June 2003, the Libyan government has taken measures regarding training of local technicians, transfers of technology, participation to the development of local production, creation of regional development and diversification of sources of income.

Tourism, industry, health, services or agriculture are sectors defined by the General People's Committee as being open to foreign investment. Advantages such as tax exemptions are reserved for projects carried out within the framework of this law. However, the percentage held by Libyans or Libyan companies within the framework of this law cannot be less than 51%.

Bilateral Investment Conventions Signed By Libya
The bilateral conventions on investment signed by Libya may be found on the policy investment hub website.

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Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment

Freedom of Establishment
Freedom of establishment in Libya is recent: Libya's political and economic system, socialist and centralized as it is, has prevented it for decades from opening up to foreign investment (with the exception of petroleum partnerships). To this must be added the international embargo which aggravated Libya's isolation considerably.

Since 2003, the lifting of international sanctions coupled with the new policy of encouraging foreign investment has improved the country's attractiveness. In addition, imports are no longer a State monopoly. Law n°5 creates a bureau to encourage foreign investment which authorizes each investment project by granting a five-year operating license, which can be extended for 3 years.

This law allows partnerships between Libyans and foreigners (with no limit on foreign holdings, except those concluded with State companies and the banking sector). Finally, foreign investment projects are freed from the main legal obligations that govern the activity of Libyan companies.

The fields of activity authorized for foreign subsidiaries are specified in decree n°13 of  January 9, 2005.  These are: building and public works, electricity (except production), hydrocarbons (except extraction; the petroleum sector is regulated by the petroleum law n°25 of 1955, amended several times, especially in 1983), industry, topography, environment, information technology, engineering & technical studies and health. Moreover, the financial sector, telecommunications, wholesale and retail sales are reserved domains. Foreigners have also been able to buy landed property.

Acquisition of Holdings
 In the authorized sectors (industry, health, tourism, services and agriculture), a majority holding in the capital of a local company is possible.
Obligation to Declare
 Before being able to set up in Libya, certain documents must be presented to the Libyan Foreign Investment Board , which authorizes investment projects for a period of 5 years (within the framework of an operating license). This authorization can be extended for 3 years.
The documents to be submitted are:
- 1 application form that includes the name of the applicant, the nationality, the legal status and headquarters, the description of the project, the investment sector, the schedule of payments, the nature and amount of capital,
- 1 feasibility study,
- 1 certificate of nationality,
- the extract of the company register in the country of origin, 1 copy of the balance sheet and a certificate of non-bankruptcy.

To learn more about how to open a business in Libya, you can read the report of the World Bank.

Competent Organisation For the Declaration
Lybian Privatization and Investment Board
Requests For Specific Authorisations
Apart from the domain of petroleum and associated products which comes under Law n°25 of 1955, and the tourism sector which comes under Law n°7 of 6 March 2004 and Decree n°139 of 26 August 2004, the sectors open to foreign investment include health, industry, services, tourism, agriculture or any other sector defined by a decision of the General People's Committee. Foreign investment is supported by Law n°5 amended by Law n°7 of 2003 and the decrees of application covering the fields of transfer of technology, training of Libyan technicians, diversifying of sources of revenue, participation in the development of local production in such a way as to allow it access to world markets, and realization of regional development.

Find out more about Investment Service Providers in Libya on GlobalTrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Investment Opportunities

Investment Aid Agency
Libyan Investment Board
Bank of Commerce and Development
Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
Tenders Info, Tenders in Libya
Globaltenders, Tenders & Projects from Libya
DgMarket, Tenders Worldwide
Other Useful Resources
Libya Investment
 
 

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Find out more about Investment Service Providers in Libya on GlobalTrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Latest Update: April 2022