Although circumstances in Libya are still difficult more than a year after the overthrow of Moammar Gadhafi, the assessment of the head of the U.S.-Libya Business Association is that the country presents attractive opportunities for American firms.
The association's executive director, Charles W. Dittrich, visited Tripoli and Benghazi for a week in April along with 37 U.S. business leaders. Speaking Tuesday in Pittsburgh as a guest of the American Middle East Institute, Mr. Dittrich said he sees a potential match between southwestern Pennsylvania's assets in medical care, education, energy and environmental expertise and the needs of a Libya pursuing reconstruction after 42 years of rule by Mr. Gadhafi and the ensuing civil war.
Unlike comparably damaged countries, Libya has oil wealth to pay for its rebuilding. Oil production is gauged to meet its prewar export level within a few months and to exceed it by the end of 2012. Libya has substantial oil reserves and is believed, once new technology is brought to bear, capable of increasing its exports fairly quickly. This, obviously, would ease world prices and the price of gasoline at the pump in the United States, a matter of concern to Americans as the economy tries to find traction toward recovery.
No forward-looking assessment should, however, underestimate the troubling aspects of post-Gadhafi Libya. On June 19 the country will elect delegates to the Public National Conference, a body that will name a new government and write a new constitution, with elections of a parliament and a president to follow.
Difficult questions remain. The first is whether Libyans will accept the legitimacy of the PNC and consequent institutions and actions. The second is whether traditional divisions, starting with that between the main provinces, Cyrenaica and Tripolitania, will be healed. The third -- and perhaps most serious, given the link between security and development -- is whether the violent disarray produced by unbridled tribal militias can be brought under control.
Post-revolutionary Libya presents a lot of opportunities, including for Americans. It also still faces a lot of difficult challenges.opinion_editorials
First Published May 31, 2012 12:00 AM