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Canada-Libya Relations

The Canada-Libya post-revolution bilateral relationship is based on a mutual interest in promoting democratic governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law, as well as a desire to strengthen commercial relations. In July 2014, Canada closed its Embassy in Libya due to violence and insecurity, and has temporarily relocated its operations to Tunisia. This measure is not permanent and has no affiliation with our long-standing diplomatic relations with Libya. We will return to Tripoli when a secure and stable environment has been restored. According to the most recent Canadian census, there are 3,570 people of Libyan origin in Canada.  In addition, more than 1,000 young Libyans are currently studying in Canadian colleges and universities.

Canadian Engagement in Libya

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. The Government of Canada remains committed to supporting the Government of National Accord (GNA) and the Libyan people.

Since 2011, Canada has provided support to Libya, including for humanitarian assistance and stabilization efforts. Canada has also contributed to the Deauville Partnership Middle East North Africa Transition Fund to strengthen governance and provide an economic framework for sustainable and inclusive growth in Libya and in several other countries in the region.

Canada continues to support efforts to build a stable, democratic and prosperous Libya, in cooperation with the UN and other international partners. Canada is supportive of the GNA and UN political mediation efforts.

Commercial Relations

Canada – Libya relations are limited. However, Canada is committed to strengthening and expanding its commercial ties and investment in Libya, when the situation stabilizes. Libya has the largest oil reserves in Africa and 5th largest in the world. Libyan oil is sweet crude and with its low cost of production, low sulfur content, and proximity to European markets is highly sought after. Libya also has tremendous opportunities in many sectors such as infrastructure, education, health. In early 2011, there were approximately 12 Canadian companies with offices present in Libya, with many small to medium size companies exploring potential future opportunities.

Canadian commercial activity in Libya, which had been on an upswing immediately following the 2011 revolution, was swiftly curtailed by the violence and increasing insecurity. Ongoing civil conflict, the threat of terrorist attacks, the collapse of the rule of law and key state institutions, and the unavailability of a wide range of essential services have considerably increased the risks associated with the pursuit of commercial activities in Libya. In addition, the drop in oil production as the result of regular attacks on vital oil infrastructure and the collapse of global oil prices have pushed Libya towards a major economic and financial crisis. Consequently, the country frequently faces cash shortages, and payments in fulfillment of commercial contracts are often delayed. The Trade Commissioner Services currently operate from Ottawa, and as such they can provide very limited support.

In 2016, Canadian exports to Libya totalled $17 million CAD (down from $78.7 million CAD in 2014 and $116.1 million CAD in 2013), Canadian imports from Libya totalled $7.9 million CAD (down from $10.2 million CAD in 2014 and $80.5 million CAD in 2013). Despite very interesting opportunities available in sectors of Canadian expertise, lack of stability and insecurity in Libya have continued to discourage the entry of Canadian companies into the market. The Canadian Embassy is following developments closely in order to support Canadian companies and facilitate their return, when conditions permit and companies decide to re-enter the market.

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