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Libya eyes Korea to invest soon

Libya offers low labor costs and abundant oil resources to investors

Apr 29,2010
Mahmoud Gebril
Mahmoud Gebril, secretary-general of Libya’s national council for economic development, said that now is a golden opportunity to invest in North Africa, particularly Libya.

“Africa is a growing area. There are more than 950 million people and by 2050 it will be 1 billion, so for any strategic-thinking and technologically-advanced country like Singapore, Taiwan, Korea and Japan, this is a golden opportunity to tap into the potential market,” Gebril said during a visit to Seoul.

While Asia is becoming an oversaturated market, there is still plenty of room for growth in Africa, he said.

“We believe there will be renewed focus on the real economy following the global financial crisis. Instead of investing in stock markets and other financial markets, which represent a symbolic economy, investors will prefer agriculture and high-tech industries that have more security.”

For these reasons, Gebril said Libya is an attractive investment site due to its low labor cost and abundant energy resources. The country also offers geographical advantages due to nearby markets in the Middle East and Europe.

The secretary-general said cooperation with Korea is particularly important because of Korea’s success in becoming a leading knowledge-based economy, which Libya wants to be.

“One of the biggest industries in Libya is oil,” said Gebril. “However, oil is a depleting source of energy. It will eventually run out in 30 or 40 years and during that time we need to diversify our national revenue sources that will bring sustainable growth,” Gebril said.

He believes many Asian countries are more cautious investors than China due to the conservative nature of Asian management where companies take a long time to make a decision. As a result, he warns that Asian investors could miss opportunities in getting a larger foothold in the expanding African market.

Gebril said the Libyan government is already providing a firm foundation to attract investors.

“[Libya] is modernizing its infrastructure, which had become outdated due to long years of isolation and the economic embargo. This year the Libyan government is investing heavily on improving such infrastructure such as new airports, roads and utilities,” said Gebril.

“We are also have ambitious plans of building up our capacities, including installing new government procedures such as e-government, fighting corruption and enhancing the transparency of government processes. We are also building human resources through education, national training and heavy investment in scientific research while rectifying the health sector.”

Libya is already working on two industrial zones where Korean investors could build manufacturing plants and two research and development zones.

During his visit to Seoul this week, Gebril met with Choi Kyung-hwan, Knowledge Economy Minister, as well as several Korean businesses including Samsung Securities and six Korean IT companies.


By Lee Ho-jeong [ojlee82@joongang.co.kr]



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