Minister Fast Undertakes Trade Mission to Help Canadian Companies Get Back to Business in the New Libya

Canada can help foster stability and prosperity in Libya through increased trade and investment, Minister says

January 30, 2012 - The Honourable Ed Fast, Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway, today wrapped up a three-day trade mission to Libya to help Canadian companies re-engage with the country during its historic transition. Fifteen Canadian companies accompanied the Minister on the mission from January 28 to 30, 2012.

“My trade mission to Libya builds on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s commitment to helping the country transition to a peaceful democracy based on the rule of law and respect for human rights,” said Minister Fast. “I am here to help Canadian companies restore and build new business partnerships with Libyans that will foster stability and prosperity and contribute to the country’s rebuilding.

“By working with local partners, Canadian firms will help Libyans reinvigorate their economy, which in turn will create jobs and prosperity for Canadians and Libyans alike.”

During the visit, Minister Fast and the Canadian business delegation met with key decision makers, local business leaders and members of the transitional government. These included Minister of Economy and Trade Ahmed Koshli, Minister of Finance Hasan Zaglam, Minister of Oil and Gas Abdurahman Benyezza, and Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Naim Ghariani. Together, the Canadians and Libyans discussed opportunities and challenges in key commercial sectors.

Members of the business delegation also participated in seminars on doing business in the new Libya. The seminars were organized by the Canadian Trade Commissioner Service in Tripoli, which has been on the ground since September 2011. Canada’s embassy also reopened in September.

Re-engagement by foreign companies is an important signal that Libya is on the path to long-term peace and stability. Foreign direct investment demonstrates international confidence, creates local employment and builds the foundation for future economic growth.

“Canadian companies have a world-class reputation and are ready to share their expertise in oil and gas, aerospace, information and communications technologies, construction, transportation and infrastructure,” said Minister Fast. “They are also committed to socially responsible business activity, which means investing in Libyan communities, creating local employment opportunities, and advancing Libya’s overall rebuilding in key areas such as health, education and infrastructure.”

While in Libya, the Minister participated in the launch of the Libyan-Canadian Association of Cooperation and Development, which consists of a group of Libyans who share social, commercial and educational ties with Canada. Canada is also active in the education sector in Libya, and there are about 600 Libyan students currently studying in Canadian educational institutions.

“The many thousands of Libyan students who have come to Canada have helped build the crucial people-to-people ties that are necessary to grow any trading relationship,” said Minister Fast. “Canada’s world-class educational institutions can help Libyan young people prepare for the task of writing a new chapter in their country’s history and guiding Libya toward a brighter future.”

“We want to thank the Government of Canada for helping to ensure that Libyan students in Canada were able to continue their studies during the recent upheaval in their country,” said Karen McBride, President of the Canadian Bureau for International Education, a not-for-profit organization that has responsibility for the management of the Libyan-North American Scholarship Program in Canada. “These students and the many other Libyans who have studied in North America will be the leaders in the new Libya.”

Canada lifted its unilateral sanctions on the Libyan regime on September 1, 2011, and obtained approval from the UN Security Council’s sanctions committee to unfreeze $2.2-billion worth of Libyan assets on September 13, 2011.

Canada was among the first countries to respond to the humanitarian crisis in Libya and has been at the forefront in supporting the Libyan people. Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird travelled to Libya twice while the conflict was still going on, most recently to Tripoli on October 11, 2011, at which time he announced a $10-million aid package for post-conflict stabilization.

Total Canadian merchandise exports to Libya topped $246.1 million in 2010, nearly double the 2008 level of $125.8 million. Major Canadian exports to Libya in 2010 included aircraft, cereals, machinery, scientific and precision instruments, and vehicles. Total imports from Libya—mostly consisting of fertilizer—reached $24.6 million in 2010.

For more information, please consult Trade Mission to Libya.

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For further information, media representatives may contact:

Rudy Husny
Press Secretary
Office of the Honourable Ed Fast
Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway
613-992-7332

Trade Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
613-996-2000
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