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India-Libya Bilateral Relations

Embassy of India
Tunis

India-Libya bilateral relations

Background
Though separated by geography, India and Libya have enjoyed strong bilateral ties. India established its Diplomatic Mission in Tripoli in 1969. The high-water mark of Indo-Libya relations was the visit of Late Prime Minister Mrs. Indira Gandhi to Libya in 1984. India has regularly supported Libya in international fora and welcomed the UNSCR 1506 adopted on 12 September, 2003, lifting sanctions imposed on Libya.
Following 2011 Libyan Revolution, India recognized the National Transition Council (NTC) on 16.11.2022 and regularly engaged with it and affirmed support to it at various fora. India provided humanitarian assistance of US$ 1 million through the United Nation’s Office of Commissioner of Humanitarian Aid. This was followed by another humanitarian assistance in the form of life saving drugs and medical equipment worth US$ 1 million delivered to NTC in January 2012. A Libyan delegation visited India in December, 2011 to explore the possibility of treatment of injured Libyans in India. GoI also sent a team of prosthetic experts to Libya for fitting ‘Jaipur Foot’.
In view of the fragile political and security situation prevailing in Libya in 2014, about 3800 Indian nationals were evacuated, which included 6 Indians kidnapped by ISIS. The Mission, which was temporarily relocated in D’Jerba (Tunisia), was later moved to Malta. The Mission in Tripoli resumed its operations in 2012, but was closed down in April, 2019 due to worsening security situation. In August, 2021, E/I, Tunis was concurrently accredited to Libya. A skeletal staff of a consular clerk and a gardener is being maintained at the Embassy Residence in Tripoli.
Ambassador of India to Tunisia and Libya, Shri N.J. Gangte, presented credentials to the President of the Presidential Council on 20 December, 2021. During the visit, Ambassador was received by DG (Asia & Australasia) in Ministry of Foreign Affairs, urging India to reopen its diplomatic Mission in Tripoli and revive the momentum of bilateral relationship.

Bilateral visits
Visits from India to Libya


November, 2004

Shri EVKS, Elangovan, MoS for Commerce & Industry to attend the 9th session of India-Libya Joint Commission.

November, 2004

Shir Gulam Nabi Azad, Minister for Parliamentary Affairs & Urban Development

May, 2005

Shri E. Ahmed, MoS for External Affairs

July, 2005

Shri Rao Inderjit Singh, MoS for External Affairs

January, 2007

Shri Murli Deora, Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas

May, 2007

Shri Pranab Mukherjee, EAM

April, 2013

Shri E. Ahmed, MoS for External Affairs

Dec, 2013

A high level security delegation to discuss capacity building in security.

May, 2018

Shri Kiren Rijiju, MoS for Home to hold talks on security cooperation, intelligence sharing and training of Libyan security personnel. He also interacted with Indian community to understand their problems.

Visits from India to Libya:


March, 2007

Mr. Burrani, Minister for Asian Affairs.

April, 2008

Dr. AbdussalamTreki, Minister for African Affairs to participate in the India-Africa Forum Summit.

March, 2009

Captain Ramadan, Secretary, Administration Committee of Hourbours.

 July, 2011

Mr. Abdelati Al-Obeidi, Foreign Minister of Libya.

September, 2012

Ambassador Ramadan Rahim, DG (Asia), Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

November, 2012

Four member delegation led by Dy. Chairman of the High National Election Commission. An MoU was signed between the two Election Commissions.

February, 2013

A defence delegation visited for the Air Defence Show

April, 2013

An 11-member Parliamentary delegation made a study visit to India in April, 2013.

April, 2013

Dy. Minister of Health to attend the International Summit on Health & Wellness Tourism in New Delhi.

February, 2014

DG (Asia & Australasia) visited for FOC between the two Foreign Ministries.

March, 2014

Chairman of the Libyan Privatisation and Investment Board to attend the CII-EXIM Bank conclave held in New Delhi.

June, 2014

A police delegation led by Col. Reda Abdullhadi Al Jalah, Asstt Director of Training, Ministry of Interior.

Bilateral Cooperation
The number of ITEC slots being offered to Libya have come down from 30 in 2013-14 to 10 now because of continuing internal political situation, because of which utilization has been low.  The number of slots offered and utilized in the last few years are as follows:.

2013-14

2014-15

2015-16

2016-17

 2017-18

2018-19

2019-20

2020-21

Slots allotted

30

20

15

15

 10

10

10

10

Slots utilized

23

11

4

3

 5

0

0

0

Under the IAFS-II Scheme 5 Libyans attended various training courses in 2012-13. In 2013 one official from the Libyan Foreign Ministry attended the 56th PCFD conducted by FSI. In 2017 another official from the MFA was sent to attend the 63rd PCFD course. ICCR also allocate 8 slots for Libya for higher studies under its Africa Scholarship Scheme. Some Libyans were selected for higher studies under the above Scheme but could not join their courses for various reasons.
Following the launching of the Pan-African e-governance initiative a Centre in Libya pertaining to tele-medicine, tele-education, e-governance, etc. was set up. Under this initiative all nations in Africa Continent were being connected to India through satellite network. After revolution re-activation of this center was under process and will be taken up under e-VBAB project upon improvement of security situation.
Important Bilateral Treaties and Agreements
The following Agreements/Memorandum of Understandings have been signed between India and Libya :

  • Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion (1981);
  • Agreement for Cooperation in the field of Health and Medical Sciences (1983);
  • Agreement on Economic Cooperation (1985);
  • Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) (2007);
  • Cultural Exchange Agreement (2007);
  • MoU between the two Election Commissions in 26-30 Nov 2012.

Economic and Commercial Relations
India and Libya have enjoyed close economic ties. In 1978, the two countries signed a framework agreement on “Protocol on Industrial, Economic and Scientific Cooperation”. This was the beginning of consultations on economic cooperation between the two countries under Indo-Libyan Joint Commission (ILJC). Till now, a total of 10sessions of ILJC have been held.
The economic cooperation between the two countries spans the entire spectrum of commercial activities. Indian companies have been active in Libya for over 30 years. A number of projects have been executed in Libya by major Indian PSUs like BHEL, NBCC, OVL, IOC, Oil India, and private companies PunjLlyod, Unitech, KEC, SSB, Dastur Engineering, Shapoorji Pallonji, SECON, Global Steel (Ispat Group Company), NIIT, Sun Pharma, Simplex Projects, and DS Construction. These projects included building of hospitals, housing, schools, roads, power plants, airports, dams, transmission lines etc.
Indian companies, especially in oil & gas, power generation, infotech and construction sectors, have several projects in Libya. Indian Oil, Oil India and ONGC Videsh are involved in the Libyan hydrocarbon sector. In April 2014, Punj Lloyd won a contract of US$ 665 million to set up infrastructure facilities at Zliten city. Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) has successfully completed execution of prestigious Western Mountain Gas Turbine Power Project. Many Indian IT companies like JMR, DSS Software, I-flex Solutions and others have continued to provide software solutions to various Libyan companies especially in banking sector. Several Indian companies are seeking to resume stalled projects in Libya once the security situation improves.

Economic and Commercial Visits from India
A 14-member Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) delegation visited Libya from 30 October-1 November, 2012. The delegation made several interactive meetings with the Libyan Business Council and Chamber of Commerce and individual meetings with government authorities, like the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Health, etc. Delegation’s meeting with Prime Minister of Libya was also arranged during which the Prime Minister was accompanied by his three Ministers and senior officials.
A 2-member OVL delegation participated in the CWC “Libya Forum on Oil and Gas” held in Tripoli on 17-18 September 2013. A 2 member technical delegation from BHEL headed by the CMD Mr. B.P.Rao visited Libya to finalize completion of their power plant and also attended board meeting of ECCO. Three Indian companies participated in the Pharma Expo which was held from 10-12 September, 2013. Some Indian companies participated in the 11th Tripoli International Book Fair from October 1-10, 2013 that was held for the first time post-revolution of 2011. Dr. Tamanna Chaturvedi, from the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade (IIFT) visited Libya on 24-25 March 2014 to discuss Executive Development Programme under the aegis of IAFS with the Libyan Ministry of Economy. An ‘India Pavilion’ with around 80 participating firms from a range of consumer product sectors (the highest Indian participation in recent times and the largest foreign country participation out of the eight countries participating in the TIF 2014) led by ITPO that marked the return of India to one of Africa’s oldest fair after three years post February 2011 revolution was organized successfully. Also an ‘India Day’ event fully funded by ITPO was organized on 6 April 2014 for B-2-B interaction and BSM. A 16 member CII led CEOs delegation visited Tripoli to scout for business opportunities in ‘New Libya’ from 5-7 April 2014 and also called on the first Deputy President of the GNC Ezzidine Mohammed Al-Awami among others. Mr. J.K. Pandey, Group General Manager, TCIL, the nodal agency visited Libya from 11-14 May, 2014 as part of the efforts to help revive the Pan-African E-Network Initiative launched in Libya in 2008-09 which was stalled following the February 2011 revolution.

Economic and Commercial Visits from Libya
A 6-member Libyan delegation led by Mr. Saeed Ibrahim Al-Khattali, Assistant Under Secretary of Technical Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs visited India to attend 9th CII-EXIM Bank Conclave on India Africa Project Partnership from 17-19 March 2013 in New Delhi. A 5-member delegation from the Libyan Ministry of Health led by Dy. Minister, Ali SaadSaeidSaad visited India to attend “Health and Wellness Tourism Meet” from 26-29 April, 2013 in Delhi. A 27-member business delegation headed by the, Chairman of Tripoli Chamber of Commerce and Vice Chairman, Libya Business Council (LBC) participated in ‘I for Afrika’ event organized by the Indo-African Chamber of Commerce in Mumbai from 3-6 October, 2013 in Mumbai. Two businessmen dealing in agriculture products attended the 33rd India International Trade Fair held on 14-27 November, 2013 at Pragati Maidan, New Delhi. Dr. Abdulbari A. Arousi, Minister of Oil & Gas led a 6-member delegation to India from 12-14 January 2014 to attend the biennial international Oil & Gas Conference & Exhibition, PETROTECH. A 10-member business delegation from Libya visited India to participate in the Marble stone & granite (STONA) expo held in Bangalore during 12-15 February, 2014. Chairman of the Libyan Privatization and Investment Board (PIB) visited India to attend the CII-EXIM Bank conclave held in New Delhi from 9-11 March, 2014. In April 2015 Mr. Ahmed Nuredin Ali Salem, Minister of Electricity in the rump GNC Tripoli salvation government visited India on the invitation of BHEL.
There were no exchange of visits during the Covid-19 pandemic but now there has been an uptick in the number of business visas being issued to Libyans reflecting resurgence of interest among Libyan importers for Indian goods, particularly in the pharmaceutical sector. A four member-delegation from Ministry of Health of Libya visited India on the invitation of a pharmaceutical company in India for inspection of their manufacturing facilities. This is expected to generate a business of approximately US $ 2 million.

Bilateral Trade
Exports by India to Libya during the period FY 2021-22 stood at US $ 237.4 mn. The growth in exports was broad based. Primary items of India’s exports included engineering goods, drugs & Pharmaceuticals, mica, coal and other ores, minerals, coffee, ceramic products and glassware.The main item of India’s imports from Libya is petroleum (crude and products) and Aluminum ores. An export target of US $ 261.8 mn has been fixed for next year.

India-Libya Cultural Relations
India and Libya signed a Cultural Exchange Agreement in 2007 during EAM’s visit to Libya following which some Indian cultural troupes sponsored by Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR),  visited Libya and staged cultural performances in major cities. An 8-member Cultural Group of Kathakali, led by ShriKalamandalam Raman Kutty, visited Libya in August 2008 and gave two performances in Tripoli and in Sirte. An 8-member Libyan cultural troupe sponsored by the ICCR had visited India to perform during the first India-Africa Forum Summit in February 2008. A 12-member “Anart” Kathak group visited Libya from 16 November to 22 November, 2009, and performed in three cities of Tripoli, Sirte& Benghazi. Coinciding with Indian Republic Day Reception, an exhibition on Mahatma Gandhi was held in Tripoli on January 26, 2013 that was attended by a number of high dignitaries, foreign diplomats, and prominent Indians.
Mission celebrated International Days of Yoga on June 21, 2015, 2016,2017 and 2018 in Tripoli. The event was however kept restricted to the Mission staff due to the civil strife and fragile security situation.

Indian community
Prior to the uprising in Libya the number of Indians engaged in Libya was estimated to be around 18,000. The Indian professionals were mainly engaged in hospitals and other teaching institutions whereas major part of manpower was engaged in the construction projects. During the revolution most of them were evacuated to India at GoI cost in February/March 2011. A few hundred Indians however continued to stay in Libya. The help and assistance rendered by Indian doctors and paramedics in Libya during the revolution was deeply appreciated. Gradually more Indians returned to Libya, and in early 2014 there were about 6000 Indians. However, in July 2014, due to deterioration in security situation following the destruction of Tripoli International Airport GOIcarried out a second evacuation exercise, bringing back 3793 Indians, out of which, 1330 were evacuated at GOI cost. GOI has imposed a ban on travel of Indian nationals to Libya since April, 2016 in view of security considerations. However, still a few Indian workers manage to reach Libya through third countries in search of jobs. About 2500 Indian nationals are currently in Libya, which predominantly includes blue collar workers and a few professionals as well as those who have married Libyans and have been living there for several years.  

Air links with India
Presently there is no direct flight from India to Libya. Following the destruction of Tripoli International airport in July 2014, Mitiga airbase is being used for a limited number of domestic and international flights. 

31 May, 2022