US, Libya sign trade and investment pact to improve ties

Wall Street Journal | May 20, 2010

US, Libya sign trade and investment pact to improve ties

By Tom Barkley

WASHINGTON (Dow Jones) — The U.S. and Libya signed a pact Thursday to facilitate trade and investment between the two nations, marking the latest step in the thaw of past hostilities.

A year and a half after restoring full normalization of ties, trade officials from the U.S. and Libya signed a trade and investment framework agreement in Tripoli.

"The TIFA is the latest step in a joint effort by the United States and Libya to broaden and deepen our bilateral relations," the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said in a statement.

The U.S. has similar agreements with dozens of countries, which provide a forum for cooperation on issues like market access and labor standards.

But the deal with Libya is significant, coming less than six years after the U.S. lifted sanctions that had been in place since the early 1980s. Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi began his reconciliation with the international community in 2003, when he renounced terrorism and agreed to compensate relatives of those who died on the 1988 bombing of a flight over Lockerbie, Scotland.

The U.S.-Libya Business Association, which is led by major oil companies like Chevron Corp. and BP PLC, called the pact a "milestone" in the relationship that would help strengthen economic and diplomatic ties.

"With more than $60 billion in Libyan infrastructure projects over the next three years, the signing of the TIFA is especially timely," the group said in a statement.

The Department of Commerce has also announced plans for a trade mission to the oil exporter, which accounted for $2.6 billion in U.S. trade flows last year.

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source: Dow Jones