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French Version

Libya receives blueprint for economic integration

Libya received Thursday a blueprint for its integration into the world economy from a U.S. free-market economist, a former adviser to late president Ronald Reagan, a newspaper reported.

Harvard Business School economist Michael Porter, who served under Reagan at a time of high tension and conflict between the two nations, presented a 200-page document in Tripoli later Thursday, the Financial Times said.

The document, which is to help devise a reform strategy for Libya, may be submitted in the presence of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, it added.

The daily said it obtained a summary of the document which envisages a Libya that by 2019, the 50th anniversary of Gadhafi's seizure of power in a military coup, has "one of the fastest rates of business formation in the world."

It also foresees a Libya which is a regional leader contributing to the "wealth and stability of surrounding nations."

But the newspaper said it is uncertain how seriously Libya will pursue economic reforms.

Despite its moves to bring back major foreign oil companies and begin financial reform, the country is still burdened by bureaucracy.

"The problem is they are trying to construct a Davos-style agenda for the new Libya while at the same time trying to make it fit key elements of the existing Libyan system," said Jon Marks, a north Africa expert and publisher of African Energy quoted in the article.

The daily said that the Harvard project is part of the efforts of Gadhafi's son Saif al-Islam to restore Libya's international legitimacy, after Tripoli renounced weapons of mass destruction and agreed to pay compensation to the victims of the 1988 Lockerbie aircraft bombing.

Last year at the Davos World Economic Forum meeting in Switzerland, Islam asked Porter to set up a team of local and foreign experts and devise a strategy for diversifying Libya's oil-dominated economy.

The report said Libya could increase oil production from 1.8 million barrels a day to above 3 million barrels a day by pursuing energy sector reforms, according to the daily.

It also urged the Libyan government to prioritize the tourism, agriculture and construction sectors in a bid to diversify the economy and increase productivity.

However, it makes more cautious recommendations on government reform.

The opening paragraph establishes the projects aim to "upgrade the global competitiveness of the Libyan economy while retaining the unique character of the Libyan" republic.

Tripoli,02 12 2006
The Daily Star
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