Kris Peeters leaves on trade mission to Libya
On Saturday the Minister-President of the government of Flanders Kris Peeters CD&V and a delegation of Flemish business leaders left for Libya. the Flemish economic mission to the country is significant for a number of reasons. “This is the first time Flanders visits a country recently removed from power before the federal government does. Both the Flemish parliament and Flemish businesses have insisted to take this initiative, however,” Peeters explained on Friday afternoon. “Various Flemish businesses that were active before the government was toppled, hope to pick up the pieces and make their contribution towards reconstruction eight months after civil war has ended.” Furthermore the mission was preceded by deliberations between the government of Flanders and the federal government. “There was no intention to beat the federal government,” Peeters stressedd. “We did invite Foreign Minister Didier Reynders MR of the federal government to accompany us, but things eventually fell through. We also deliberated with Defence Minister Pieter De Crem CD&V in view of efforts by the Belgian military during the conflict.” Belgium responded to NATO’s request for assistance by sending fighter aircraft and a minesweeper at a cost of about 30 million euros. French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron paid their first post-crisis visit to Tripoli in September, even before the death of Khaddafi. Peeters however preferred to give the country some time to settle down. He didn't want to offend the Libyan population by eagerly chasing lucrative contracts when the civil was was not yet finished. Peeters’ mission will include a visit to the capital, Tripoli, and the harbour city Misurata, where dredging giant Deme was involved in dredging works on the harbour channel. Meetings with Libyan businesses leaders and ministers of the new government have also been planned. Numerous Western businesses have been eyeing Libya for some time. According to diplomats it didn’t take foreign delegations long to line up after the National Transitional Council declared the country’s liberation. This comes as no surprise, as the country owns the biggest oil and gas fields in Africa, producing 1.3 million barrels of oil each day. With these resources the new rulers have a lot of money to invest in the reconstruction of their country. In 2010 Flemish exports to Libya totalled almost 160 million euros.