UK Trade & Investment urges contractors to re-engage with the war-torn country

Trade and Investment Minister Lord Green has announced that the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD), the UK’s official export credit agency, will resume cover for British exports to Libya.

The ECGD will provide up to £250m of insurance against non-payment and political risks to British investors, and its chief executive confirmed that the sum could yet be increased.

The move came at a UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) conference on Libya, held yesterday, which was attended by several of the UK’s largest construction firms.

Lord Green spoke at the conference after visiting Tripoli this week to meet the National Transitional Council (NTC) ministers responsible for the economy, transport, education and communications.

He opened discussions with the Central Bank, the Libyan Businessmen Council and the NTC’s international advisers, and was accompanied by a delegation that included Arup, Mott Macdonald and AMEC.

In his speech yesterday, the minister outlined the government’s readiness to help the NTC and any future government in Libya to rebuild the country.

He said UKTI was determined to support British firms seeking to forge trade links with Libya. He confirmed that a senior official based in Tripoli would take this work forward, and would be backed by a much larger team by the end of October.

Edward Oakden, managing director of UKTI Sectors Group, told Building the situation on the ground in Libya is complex and evolving, but that the NTC is determined to honour the previous regime’s debts to British companies.

“They want people who have been engaged on bona fide projects to come back and finish the job,” he said.

“Britain will be treated well - there will be a predisposition to look to Britain and others who have helped them - but that will be competitively framed.”

Oakden urged firms to remember that the country and its government are in a transitional process, so contracts are unlikely to be signed immediately.

However, he emphasised that this is an excellent time for contractors wishing to court business over the coming months and years to build key relationships with Libyan partners.