Egypt and Libya take steps to strengthen ties

Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Kamel Amr (left) talks with his Libyan counterpart Mohamed Abdulaziz during an Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo in March. [Gianluigi Guercia/AFP]

Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Kamel Amr (left) talks with his Libyan counterpart Mohamed Abdulaziz during an Arab foreign ministers meeting in Cairo in March. [Gianluigi Guercia/AFP]

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Egypt and Libya are strengthening relations through a slew of bilateral agreements on the economic and military fronts.

Under an agreement signed Wednesday (April 10th), Libya will give Egypt a $2 billion five-year, interest-free loan, Egypt's official Middle East News Agency reported.

The loan is intended to support the Egyptian economy, the state budget and foreign currency reserves, according to a finance ministry official.

Also on Wednesday, Chief of Staff of the Egyptian Armed Forces Gen. Sidqi Sobhi said the Libyan and Egyptian armed forces are slated to co-operate in all fields through a new co-operation agreement, Egyptian daily Al-Masry Al-Youm reported.

Sobhi's remarks came during a joint press conference with his Libyan counterpart, Maj. Gen. Yousef al-Manqoush, after the two countries agreed to develop military co-operation and conduct joint trainings.

"The chief of staff's visit asserts brotherhood and readiness of co-operation with the Libyan army," al-Manqoush said during the press conference.

Oil agreement to strengthen Egypt's local economy

Libya had announced last month it will provide Egypt with around 1 million barrels of crude oil per month to ease the fuel crisis in Egypt.

Oil will be supplied at global market prices and payment will be made on credit, Nouri Berouin, chairman of the Libyan National Oil Corporation, told Libya's state news agency.

Libyan oil minister Abdul Bari al-Aroussi said his country also plans to refine some of its crude oil in Egyptian refineries to support the Egyptian economy.

The 1 million barrels of oil can help mitigate Egypt's diesel and gasoline crisis, according to Rashed al-Menoufi, a political science professor at Ain Shams University and a specialist in political economy.

This has become "one of the most difficult issues at the moment" because of acute shortages -- of diesel in particular -- in the Egyptian market, he said.

Joint committee to enhance relations

Co-operation between the two countries did not stop in the years following their revolutions, but grew stronger through the recent activation of the Egyptian-Libyan Supreme Joint Committee, said Abdo Shalaby, a member of the Egyptian Businessmen Association and general manager of a real estate construction company.

The council will oversee negotiations regarding Egyptian workers in Libya and Egyptian companies seeking to enter the Libyan market and vice-versa, he said.

"The Egyptian government is co-operating with businessmen in both countries to activate economic relations through the sub-committees of the Egyptian-Libyan committee," he told Al-Shorfa.

A number of Egyptian ministries are represented in these sub-committees, he said, including the manpower, interior, investment, foreign, international co-operation and sports ministries.

Shalaby said he expects joint investments to be concentrated in the agriculture, energy, industry and petrochemicals sectors, as well as the construction and infrastructure sectors.

Many Egyptian real estate companies have already entered the Libyan market to assist in the country's reconstruction process, especially in areas devastated after the civil war, he said.

"The first stage will witness investments in agricultural land reclamation (about 33,000 acres), in addition to establishing free trade and industrial zones on the border," Shalaby said.

Some Libyan businessmen also expressed interest in resuming a project to build new housing developments in Egypt similar to the ones in Masr al-Gedida, 6th of October City and Sheikh Zayed, in co-operation and partnership with both governments, he said.

Investments continue in all sectors

Nihal Saeed, of Egypt's Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics, told Al-Shorfa Egyptian government figures from 2012 reveal a total of almost $13 billion in Libyan investments in Egypt.

This amount includes $2 billion from 500 Libyan companies in Egypt, in the agriculture, tourism, finance and oil sectors, she said.

Saeed said her office expects an increase of $7 billion in Libyan investments in Egypt as more investors and businessmen come in and the work of the Egyptian-Libyan Supreme Joint Committee gets under way.

Meanwhile, the agency estimates Egyptian investments in Libya at almost $500 million in the construction and education sectors, Saeed said.

Nearly 1 million Egyptians live in Libya today, according to agency statistics.

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    سلطان برجس

    2013-5-6

    Yes, there are Egyptian positive steps for supporting the relations between Egypt and Libya. We see that the events Egyptians live therein shall create supporting steps not only in Libya but also in the other Arab states as long as there is available chance. Meanwhile, Egyptian people need help and there are no new events but life is the same along this period that we see. Now, Egypt lives in the hardest situation. Is it possible that these steps are the main and immediate solution for economic problems in Egypt or we follow a fantasy and there are no new events? We shall wait till we see new signs from this support.

  • كرم جابر

    2013-5-4

    Is it really possible that Libyan-Egyptian relations will continue this way? It is indeed difficult that the events will continue the way they are. For two years or more, we were never able to imagine that a revolution could take place in Libya and will end in the death of Muammar Gaddafi. At the same time, we were never able to imagine that there will be a revolution in Egypt which will end in arresting Mubarak and placing him behind bars. Therefore, the current events underscore that we are not running on a single track and that objections or sanctions could take place between the two countries. Hence, the Egyptian people should capitalize on the current relationship between Egypt and Libya since things could change one day.

  • منصور حسن

    2013-5-1

    We see that the officials in Libya try to save the Egyptian people berceuse many terrorist crises take place without any cause. We know that Egypt passed through many problems and this caused many troubles there. However, we will never forget that the Arab states are united and help each other. The Egyptian people want to get rid of their problems but they will not succeed without the help of the brothers in Libya. We see that the Libyans offer their help to save Egypt’s economy, which is about to collapse. We appreciate the efforts of the Libyan officials. Indeed, these are blessed steps between Egypt and Libya.

  • عبد الله علوش

    2013-5-1

    I am very proud of all the steps that are being taken by the officials in Egypt and giving a chance to strongmen the relationship between Egypt and Libya, because it is certain that the Egyptians need all these improvements and to improvise the services offered to them. We all wish that there would be more need to work for the sake of the Egyptian people to avoid any concerns in the coming period.

  • سلطان وسيم

    2013-4-29

    If coherent relations between Egypt and Libya will really provide safety for the Egyptians, then we wish all the success for the Egyptian and Libyan people. But, I believe that the Egyptians are in need of any help, that’s why they didn’t hesitate to accept when Libya offered its help. There are many needs of the Egyptian people and they have to work hard in order to meet them, this is not fair. I’m having pity on the Egyptians so many times. They’re bearing their lives like that, so when we find the Egyptians willing to go to Libya to get work opportunities, this will definitely contribute to provide work opportunities to all the Egyptians, and thus the crisis would be solved quickly. However, the Egyptians have to stick to this chance, and we’d like to thank the Libyans because they opened this way, and that will make us all comfortable as long as there’s cooperation between the two countries.

  • نور حمدى

    2013-4-29

    I see that because of the crisis Egyptians face, the officials should play a role in protecting the Egyptian economy from collapsing. We must protect the status of the Egyptians before anything. However, through these blessed steps, which would work on consolidating the joint relations between Egypt and Libya, we should be optimistic because this is very important and we need real help from the Libyans as we are in a real crisis. We want to survive because the current developments confirm that the relations between the two states are the best solution to both of them. We have to stick to these relations and protect them not to lose them in Egypt. In the light of the new conditions between Egypt and Libya, there are many forms of necessary cooperation, which will help the world to prove that through the Libyan aids, it would stand on its feet again to improve the economy in these critical moments, which are needed by the Egyptians.

  • نازلى مندور

    2013-4-28

    I think that it is very good that Libya opened the door to economic negotiations with Egypt under the current conditions, which means that this is an effective cooperation that came in time, whether it was relative to military, economic or oil cooperation. The issue of the oil is a real crisis in Egypt, because since Mursi assumed power, we have been accusing the remnants of the former regime, and spies. However, we eventually discovered that it was mismanagement. Today, we have to amend the economic plan and I hope that this will achieve economic cooperation between Egypt and Libya through the businessmen. I think that the economic exchange through the businessmen will be better than official cooperation, as it would be removed from the routine practices and the politics. Hence, cooperation will be limited to business away from the limitations on the politicians. This is very important in this period.

  • احمد سويدان

    2013-4-27

    I don’t think there will be any change in Egypt whatsoever, even if there are relationships between Egypt and Libya. When I look at the situation in both countries, I see that things are not always in the hands of the Egyptian people because Egyptians are now living in perpetual poverty and permanent paucity. They don’t see that the positive steps being mutually taken nowadays by Egypt and Libya are in the interest of their country, which necessitates finding a solution to the economic problems prevailing in Egypt. Egypt has become a very bottomless crucible of economic woes and there is no initiative whatsoever at the part of Egyptians to carry out reforms. Instead, the only thing in which Egyptians are engaged is chaos and turmoil. Despite the similarity between the events that took place in Egypt and Libya, what happened in Libya never hampered the Libyan people’s quest for success and development. On the contrary, it was momentous impetus for bringing about a positive change in Libya’s future.

  • حامد فوزي

    2013-4-26

    What a great step; I hope these steps will continue, regardless of any internal conflicts in the two countries. As we know, large numbers of Egyptians came back from Libya in the aftermath of the Libyan revolution. These Egyptians had been employed in Libya, and there return was the source of the Egyptian crisis since Egyptians do not have access to proper jobs and wages are not good. Therefore, we would like to know whether the enhancement of the Egyptian-Libyan relationship will be across-the-board; will it be short-lived? Currently, the Egyptian people want to cling to any ray of hope, so we want to be reassured that there will be some kind of stability in Libya.

  • كرم جابر

    2013-4-26

    The best thing about the government’s action to strengthen the relationships is that the economic aspect has been addressed and it has certainly addressed the issue of Egyptian labor force in Libya. Libya is a huge market for Egyptian labor, and it was therefore obligatory for the Egyptian government to enhance the relationship between the two sides. Frankly speaking, Libya has done great favors for Egyptian laborers, and when the Libyan revolution broke out, we have all seen the large numbers of workers that flocked from Libya to Egypt. As a matter of fact, the Egyptian government ought to improve the relationship economically and otherwise, in addition to improving Egypt’s relationship with neighboring countries in order to secure employment opportunities for the Egyptians. The Egyptians really need such opportunities, particularly in these current times, in light of the growing unemployment in Egypt.

  • سليمان الراسى

    2013-4-26

    There is no optimism regarding the regarding the Egyptian-Libyan relationships because we never know the intentions of Libya and we cannot depend on this state to be the sole savior of the Egyptian people. indeed, the oil is very important to Egypt, and through the cooperation between Libya and Egypt we will have a big share of the Libyan oil. Nevertheless, I see that we have to be careful because the Libyans do not know anything about dialogue and they settle anything through bloodshed. This is what we saw when they killed the US ambassador and the former president Muammar Gaddafi. Hence, I wish that this would be the end of the relations between Egypt and Libya and I see that it is better to keep them within the proper limits. The Egyptian people need these aids, but we have to be careful.

  • مجد المحمودى

    2013-4-26

    The relationship between Egypt and Libya must remain within a certain limit. We all know that both states have witnessed many events over thirty years. In Egypt, Mubarak was a tyrant and he took democracy as a cover. In Libya, Muammar Gaddafi was an unforgivable tyrant who suppressed his people. Therefore, both states after getting rid of the current events should have entered into partnership to make many achievements that contribute to the protection of the states. The Libyan and Egyptian peoples need each other and they need to cooperate within a limited course. We wish that this would be very smooth.

  • جلال عبد الرحمن

    2013-4-25

    It is certain that Egypt is now in dire need to establish relations with Libya because we know quite well that there are many crises which take place in the country. Thus, they should have contributed to strengthen the relationship between Egypt and Libya. We find that Libyan officials are opening their doors to those Egyptians in order to preserve their economy which is on the verge of collapse. We hope that these will be blessed steps for all Egyptians.

  • زياد مشاري

    2013-4-24

    Nobody can deny that the Egyptian people are in desperate need for all this consolidation between Egypt and Libya. Although the Libyans were suffering from the same conditions as the Egyptians, they could overcome their problems till achieving the good, but there is a slight difference between them, because we believe that consolidation between both countries may mean rehiring many Egyptians to Libya, as we know that since the 25th of January revolution, a lot of Egyptians returned once again to Egypt, but those will certainly be back to work again in Libya.

  • امل عثمان

    2013-4-24

    There can't be any objection to there being always trade and economical and tourist exchanges between Egypt and Libya. There has been of benefit between the two countries for a long time but the strange thing is the military cooperation, whose details are not understood. But as long as those entering into this agreement are military people, there won't be any worry. But if this agreement was entered into by the Egyptian Prime Minister, million questions will be asked. Honestly, the Egyptian people, me also as one of them, are not confident about Morsi and his government. The Egyptian army will always remain the spirit of the nation and the pulse of the Egyptian people, no matter how the malicious tried to drive a wedge between us; loyalty to the army is more important than any member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

  • احمد برغش

    2013-4-23

    Egypt is seeking anyone to sign agreements with them, and this is not surprising in Morsi’s era. Libya could have an economy after their revolution; we hope so and we’re not objecting on any commercial or military exchange between us. However, any agreement should include the cease of smuggling of weapons across the Egyptian Libyan borders. The truth is that since the breakout of the revolution and until now, Egypt has been filled with weapons. So, we cannot sign a military exchange agreement after the country has been filled with weapons from Libya. They smuggled weapons through the Salloom site, and now they’re arming the army. Thanks to them, Libyan weapons have been with the army and the people alike.

  • حامد الشبراوى

    2013-4-23

    I am very proud of the progress in the relations between Egypt and Libya. Indeed, the Egyptian people are in dire need for such measures. On the other hand, the Egyptian people are on the verge of a severe economic crisis because the recent events in the country. The Libyans now welcome all the Egyptians who want to work in their country. Many Egyptians are seeking job opportunities. In fact, there are a great number of Egyptian citizens who found security and safety in Libya, as well as suitable job opportunities. I hope that the established relationships between both countries will improve even more. Of course, such relations would lead to important investment projects for both countries.

  • مسعد سليمان

    2013-4-23

    In order to improve the Egyptian economy, we need top conclude large deals with many states because this cooperation will improve the conditions of Egypt in the economy and in many fields that need the investments urgently. If the state depended on divesting the sources of income, it will achieve economic stability in a real way. The agreement with Libya is excellent, may God bless it, and it will be fruitful. I wish that the government of Egypt would strengthen the cooperation agreements with many states not only Libya. The people must help in this respect because if we continued speaking in this way we will achieve nothing. We have to be optimistic and we should work because if we did not work we will die out of hunger

  • احمد عز

    2013-4-22

    Libya and Egypt are capable of forming an excellent taskforce that is spread across two important geographic locations. But who can turn this dream into a reality? The two nations have Europe to their north and Africa to their south, which means that they have access to both European and African markets, in addition to their own local markets. How about strongly bonding the two nations economically or even creating a strong economic union between them like the one that exists between the Gulf States? Surely, such economic bonds, particularly in the fields of oil, tourism and agriculture, would bring great benefits to the two countries. But is there anyone who is working on this matter? As a matter of fact, it takes two hands to clap and I hope the two new governments that were brought about by the Arab Spring will grasp this fact, which is something that could really set them off and get them going. Libya is not a poor nation, but it is possible that its wealth was being embezzled under Gaddafi’s rule, and I believe that it is in the interest of Egypt to join hands with Libya. This will allow the two countries to give free rein to their potential at this juncture.

  • تيسير المنفلوطى

    2013-4-22

    More often than not, we hear about contracts concluded among Arab countries and we always read nice statements made by different Arab parties. The same thing applies to what is going on now between Egypt and Libya and the huge discussions on the issue of economy and many other issues. However, we haven’t seen anything on the ground because what is happening now is no different than what used to happen during the time of Mubarak and Gaddafi in power. We will never lose hope nor will we get tired, but we only want credibility and being specific about what kind of economic agreement has been reached. This will help the Egyptian and Libyan people have a sense of direction as to what has been agreed upon. We don’t want to close our eyes and let the dreams take us away while nothing is being done on the ground.

  • تامر بدر

    2013-4-22

    Nobody can deny that efforts exerted by Egyptian officials in Egypt must be for the good of Egyptians because we have seen how much Egyptians suffered from the current conditions in Egypt. We also know the enhancements between Egypt and Libya that will certainly benefit Egypt because Egypt has not yet stood on its feet as its economy is unsafe in all respects. Conditions of both Egyptians and Libyans are similar, yet Libyans can endure all conditions in order to protect future of their country; they didn't revolt to cause chaos but they shared in creating a better future for Libyans. But in Egypt, we live contrary to this, because Egypt is now in chaos because of the conditions and incidents that took place; but we ask Egyptians to be optimistic with the Egyptian Libyan reinforcements because they will cause welfare to both countries.

  • إياد باسم

    2013-4-22

    I thank Almighty God for these Egyptian Libyan steps because in Egypt we are at a crossroads since President Mohamed Morsi took the lead, and there is nothing new at all in Egypt! It is our duty to share all our expertise in these enhancements that will take place between Egypt and Libya because they will certainly benefit both countries. We witnessed what has happened in Libya since the revolution started and we witnessed what happened in Egypt after the Egyptian revolution; with conditions that cool down and after overthrowing the President and after electing President Mohamed Morsi, conditions continued as they have been for many years. We wish all welfare to both Egyptians and Libyans through these enhancements.

  • غاده عبد الرازق

    2013-4-22

    The consolidation of the diplomatic relations with Libya could be viewed as a compensation to this neighboring country. Indeed, the Egyptian citizens, namely the Christians in Libya, were exposed to many violations in the past few days. It seems that the Egyptians want to satisfy the Libyans in order to restore the past relations. In this respect, the Libyan authorities granted Egypt two billion dollars although the latter did not ask for money explicitly. The two countries also reinforced the military and economic cooperation, which is really a positive decision. However, we could not see why they took such measures right now and not earlier. This confirms the theory of the compensation for the violations against the Egyptians in Libya in the past few days. Regardless of the motives, we appreciate the cooperation between the two neighboring countries.

  • عمار المنفلوطى

    2013-4-22

    The development of the Libyan and the Egyptian economy depends on a well planned road map for joint work. In fact, both countries would benefit from such joint work in all areas of the economy. I am really interested in the economic cooperation between both countries. I hope that Egyptian authorities will urbanize the country through more and more construction projects. The Libyan investors could make some projects in Egypt and vice versa. The private hands are actually able to help the Government in this respect. Thus, the latter should seize the opportunity and engage in investment projects with the Libyan businessmen. The current authorities should change the policies of the former regime which led to severe housing crises.

  • غاده عبد الرازق

    2013-4-21

    Perhaps the former Libyan regime was not mentally fit to conclude important agreements with foreign countries. Indeed, Gaddafi was actually a crazy man. For this reason, the esteemed Libyan people revolted against him. The Egyptian Government, which is also new, is supposed to consider the strategic dimension by consolidating the relations between Egypt and Libya to increase investment between the two countries, especially in the field of oil. Libya features great reserves of crude oil. I think that Egypt could rely on this brotherly Arab nation, if need be. Libyan oil is easier to transport in view of the short distance. It is also easy to install pipelines between the two countries, if the authorities reach an agreement. Egypt and Libya should promote the commercial exchanges because they could complement each other in many areas, not just oil. We hope that this agreement will mark the beginning of the cooperation between the two parties, God willing.

  • منصور حسن

    2013-4-20

    No one can deny that the Egyptian steps are now on the way to be achieved because as soon as there is reinforcement between Egypt and Libya, it will be very possible to make several projects that contribute to the promotion of the Egyptian economy. This way, we see that the Egyptian people are trying to catch the last chance and the officials in Libya try to take advantage of the Egyptian steps to make projects and investments with the Egyptian people. Anyway, all of them should have made these great efforts because we found the idea was very clear among the Egyptian People. There should have been such reinforcements between them from the beginning, because in all these cases, Egyptian people should have encouraged doing so, especially in oil projects because the large deficit in Egypt now is so clear.

  • حسنى حسان

    2013-4-20

    The fact that Libya is offering generous help to Egypt shows the conviction of those people in the Arab brotherhood. I hope that the Libyan and the Egyptians will keep such friendliness forever. In this context, I expect the brotherly Libyans to grant Egypt a monthly amount of crude oil. The quantity should reach a million barrels. The payment should be through installments. In so doing, Egypt could overcome the current economic crisis easily. I would really appreciate such a decision by the Brotherly Libyan State. I also expect Libya to grant Egypt two billion Dollars to help Egypt overcome the financial crisis, too. As an Egyptian citizen, I feel embarrassed by the great generosity of the Libyan State towards my nation. On the other hand, I urge the diplomatic missions to reinforce the relations between Libya and Egypt. I am not keen on such relations out of pragmatism or greed, I swear by God. In fact, I wanted to say that the commercial and economic relations between the countries could be promoted even more. The mutual cooperation would certainly serve the interests of both countries and on an equal footing. In this respect, Egypt could benefit Libya by sending them great scientists in various fields to teach in Libyan universities and schools. In fact, this is the least thing we should do for a nation which does not hesitate to help Egypt. We must support the post-revolution Libya.

  • عبد الله راجح

    2013-4-20

    Without any agreements, Egyptians have a glorious background in Libya and they consider both of these two countries as one nation. In addition to that, a lot of Egyptians want to maintain a good relationship with Libya and hope to restore security and safety to the country so that Egyptians could immigrate and work in Libya. The era of the ousted president has relieved a lot of people. Thus, if the role of the Government consists in promoting the relationships, it will be nice and people do not want more than this. In fact, during the previous era, I used to feel that the relationship between Libya and Egypt is moving toward a standstill. Thus, we hope that the last visits will have a magic effect on the people who are there and the people who want to go to Libya but are afraid.

  • طلال ما هر

    2013-4-19

    Joint cooperation between Libya and Egypt is very useful for both of them because the two countries are neighbors in a region that plays a very important role in the World trade movement, particularly in the Mediterranean. The issue of Libya reinforcing Egypt in the Egyptian Oil Refineries can be very beneficial for both countries and can be a big leap. This by itself is a renaissance because refining oil is million times more useful than selling it as raw. These profits will bring revenues for both countries. Also the military cooperation will be very useful, particularly between two countries such as Egypt and Libya who have just finished their revolution. Making this military cooperation will be very meaningful and significant. This is what we dream of a long time ago. However, the former decayed regimes had their different opinion.

  • هشام نايف

    2013-4-16

    We wish more progress and flourishing throughout the Arab homeland. We hope that it would be a small village for all the Arab citizens to cooperate and achieve renaissance for the Arab nation.

  • السيد ابوعبداللة

    2013-4-14

    I liked these relations.