The U.S.-Libya Business Association (USLBA) on Wednesday welcomed the “Cairo Declaration” announced by the foreign ministers of Libya, Tunisia and Egypt.
The declaration strives for the three countries to create a free-travel zone, allowing citizens and tourists to move freely between the three countries.
“If implemented, visa-free travel among citizens and tourists of the three nations would be a tangible and early example of what is possible to move toward greater regional trade, investment and economic integration in North Africa as a result of the Arab Spring,” said USLBA Executive Director Chuck Dittrich, who also serves as National Foreign Trade Council vice president for regional trade initiatives and coordinator of the U.S.-Middle East Free Trade Coalition. “Visa-free movement could lead to greater cooperation among business people and entrepreneurs and Libya, in the center of the three nations, is poised to benefit tremendously by this action.
“This could be a powerful first step in an effort to address regulatory barriers among the three North African nations, which could spur the creation of regional supply chains and unleash economic rewards of regional cooperation,” he added.
“Each country possesses unique comparative advantages in terms of size of market, rich natural resources, dedicated focus on export orientation and creation of new economic sectors,” Dittrich said. “However, to realize such gains it will be important for all three nations to continue to work together in terms of customs and other trade facilitation issues at the border, increased regulatory coherence among domestic and foreign businesses and investors in each nation, as well as in upgrading transportation infrastructure and continuing to build on joint education and training initiatives.”
Three-way goods trade between Libya, Tunisia and Egypt accounted for about $2.8 billion (including transshipments) in 2010, prior to the advent of the Arab Spring.