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Canada-Libya Relations

Canada is represented in Libya by the Embassy of Canada in Tripoli, and Libya is represented in Canada by an Embassy in Ottawa.

The Canadian-Libyan post-revolution bilateral relationship is based on mutual respect, common interest in promoting democratic governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law, and a desire to strengthen commercial relations. In September 2011, Canada reopened its embassy in Tripoli to facilitate our political engagement and assistance in stabilization efforts, and to re-establish a solid trade footprint. According to the most recent Canadian census, there were 3,570 people of Libyan origin in Canada. In 2013, it was estimated that there were 1,500 Canadians in Libya. Every year, nearly 600 young Libyans come to study in Canadian colleges and universities.

Political Engagement

In 2011, through its role in NATO Operation Unified Protector, Canada was among the first countries to respond to the demands by the Libyan people for democracy and freedom. Canada made a significant contribution to the success of the popular uprising and provided $ 10.6 million in humanitarian assistance.

In June 2011, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird visited Benghazi to support civil society and the democratic transition, and in October 2011, he visited Tripoli to show support for post-conflict stabilization efforts. In January 2012, International Trade Minister Ed Fast led a large delegation of companies to Tripoli to further promote our trade and investment relationship and reinvigorate commercial relations.

The Government of Canada is committed to supporting the Libyan authorities during their critical transitional period. In support of post-conflict stabilization efforts, Canada has allocated approximately $20 million, including:

  • $ 11.5 million to help secure and destroy weapons of mass destruction, stockpiles of conventional weapons, explosive remnants of war (ERW), and radioactive sources.
  • $ 600,000 for technical assistance and training in relation to the constitutional reform and the strengthening of governance.
  • $ 829,000 through the Libya Capacity Deployments Initiative (LCDI) to respond to immediate and medium-term needs as identified by the Libyan Government. Canada has deployed Canadian experts to provide technical assistance and advice on police training, defence reform, health services in prisons and strategic communications.
  • $ 3 million in electoral assistance to support the democratic transition in Libya while helping to foster women’s empowerment and participation in Libya’s democratic processes.
  • $ 2.6 million through the Deauville Partnership Middle East and North Africa  Transition Fund to support entrepreneurship and SME creation in order to generate employment, particular for youth and vulnerable groups.
  • $ 1.7 million through the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to assist the Libyan authorities to implement the reforms in budgetary planning and preparation recommended by the World Bank and the IMF.

In May 2012, Prime Minister Harper announced a $15 million contribution to a transition Fund to provide grants and technical assistance to help accelerate economic and democratic reform efforts in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. Canada is also a key stakeholder in international financial institutions which play a central role in helping North African states achieve economic recovery and democracy.

The Canada Fund for Local Initiatives (CFLI) has contributed $ 215,000 (2012-13) to support local community development and the active engagement of Libyan civil society organizations and NGOs. Projects support democratic transition and encourage women participation.

Commercial and Economic Relations

Trade and investment are key aspects of overall Canada-Libya relations. Following the 2011 revolution, Libya embarked on a path to modernise its economy, which included market reforms to encourage private sector development and attract foreign investment. Canada and Canadian businesses are active in supporting these efforts. Libya offers significant commercial opportunities, particularly in oil & gas, education, health care, and infrastructure. As of 2012, bilateral trade amounts to C$158.8 million, showing a 181.8 % increase from 2011, the year of the revolution. Our bilateral trade is gradually returning to pre-revolution levels. Canada has led two trade missions to Libya: the first in October 2011, and the second in January 2012. 

January 2014


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Date Modified:
2014-01-16