30 JANUARY 2002

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BoV opens Libyan representative office

- Bonnici encourages further trade, exports with southern neighbour

Speaking last week at the launch of the Bank of Valletta Representative Office in Al-Fateh Tower, Tripoli Libya, Economic Services Minister Josef Bonnici cited the rapidly expanding Libyan market as a prime destination for Maltese investment and exports. Prof Bonnici also praised Bank of Valletta’s new branch, explaining that it would undoubtedly help in the consolidation of business opportunities between Malta and the people Libya.

The opening of the Libya Office is the Bank’s most recent effort in its bid to invest in new markets as well as to promote relations between Malta and the Southern Mediterranean region. The office is now BOV’s ninth overseas office together with the two in Canada, four in Australia, the office in Milan and the one in Tunis.

Prof Bonnici explained that over recent years trade and investment exchanges between Malta and Libya have been strengthened as both countries have made big efforts to promote the development of their respective economies. He cited tangible signs to this positive development, such as that of METCO last March opened an office here in Tripoli within this same complex with the aim of increasing the two-way trade between the two countries.

He elaborates, "Such developments are mutually beneficial. By strengthening these types of economic linkages, Malta can play an important role in helping Libyan companies expand their operations towards Europe, especially to the countries in the EU. At the same time, Libya could have a fundamental role to play in helping Maltese companies to do business in other African states. While Malta can help Libya in Europe, it is also true that Libya can help Malta in Africa.

"The Government of Malta is determined to continue building upon the existing political and economic relations between the two countries. Indeed the opening of this Bank of Valletta representative office here in Tripoli is not only indicative of the importance attached to Libya by the Maltese business community but also a visible expression of the desire to consolidate our economic and political relations with the Libya."

Addressing the inauguration, BoV Group Chairman Joseph FX Zahra added, "Malta and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya enjoy an enviable strategic geographical position and rely extensively on the skills of their people. A strong base is in place for the continuous enhancement of current relations on all fronts. New auspicious opportunities are emerging. Malta is slowly but surely gaining a stronger foothold in the Libyan market, consequently striking a more equitable trade balance between the two countries."

Mr Zahra emphasised, "A number of important factors have led Bank of Valletta to open a representative office in Libya. First of all, the Bank has, during the past years, been servicing a number of foreign companies operating in Libya. This office will place us closer to our clients from where we will be able to give a more effective and personalised service. Moreover, following the launch of the New Law Number Five which facilitates foreign direct investment, a number of Maltese entrepreneurs are currently studying the possibility of expanding their operations in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya particularly in the support of the petrochemical, manufacturing, tourism and agricultural sectors. All this led Bank of Valletta to start evaluating the possibility of opening this representative office, an opportunity that today has materialised."

Referring to the collaboration between the two countries, Mr Zahra explained, "Over the years the Maltese and Libyan authorities have set up a number of joint ventures that have invested in the manufacturing, tourism, aviation and the services sector in both countries. A number of these joint ventures have been a great success and have expanded their operations beyond our shores."

The Tripoli representative office will be operating on a number of fronts namely assisting Bank of Valletta’s customers in further understanding business opportunities available in Libya, promoting investment and commercial ties between Malta and Libya, improving the relationship between the Maltese and Libyan banking sectors as well as fostering inward trade and investment to Malta by linking up with the Bank’s Business Development Department.

Concluding his address, Mr Zahra thanked the Libyan Central Bank authorities for giving BoV the opportunity to make the new Tripoli Office a reality, while also thanking the Hon. Josef Bonnici, Minister for Economic Services, the Hon. Finance Minister John Dalli and Foreign Affairs Minister Joe Borg, for their support towards the Bank’s efforts.

Amongst the distinguished guests present for the official inauguration were ministers and authorities from both Malta and Libya, as well as top executives of the Bank of Valletta Group.

Bank of Valletta's Libya Representative Office is located at Floor No. 11, Office No. 7, Al Fateh Towers, Tripoli, Libya and BOV’s resident manager at the Office, Mr. John Pollacco, may be contacted on Telephone numbers 00218 21 335 1661/2/3, Fax number 00218 21 335 1665 and e-mail on john.pollacco@bov.com. Contacts with the BoV Libya Representative Office can also be made through BoV's Business Development Department which can be contacted on telephone numbers 21313119, 21342581, Fax number 21346160 and e-mail on business.dev@bov.com.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt