Libya Economy Facts

Economical overview

Libya’s economy is completely dominated by the oil and gas sector, which before the civil war in 2011 accounted for almost all the state’s revenue and basically all exports. Oil production has been hit hard by the war and the chaotic situation that has prevailed since then, and it in turn impacts important social functions.

During the 2011 conflict, oil production fell and exports stopped, but both recovered quickly when Gaddafi had fallen and in 2012 they were almost at the same levels as before the war. The new management invested heavily in recovery, and both government salaries and subsidies increased substantially. The government’s budget more than doubled every year for three years.

  • Major imports by Libya, covering a full list of top products imported by the country and trade value for each product category.

But towards the end of 2012, protests and disagreements began to affect production, and from the summer of 2013, oil and gas plants were increasingly affected by severe disruptions. Such disturbances did not exist during the Gaddafi era. Security vacuum arose and armed local groups could try to take control of the infrastructure. Initially, it was mainly about relatively concrete and often modest demands, for better service or extended rights, but recurring production cases have arisen when armed groups are fighting for political influence and economic benefits.

Five years after the outbreak of war, oil production was around one fifth of what it was before the war. In addition, the world market price of oil had plunged, which contributed to Libya’s economy being perhaps the fastest shrinking in the world. The 2015 budget deficit reached over 50 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), also a figure in the record class. In 2016, production began to increase again and in the spring of 2017 it was for the first time back at the same level as 2014, but up to the levels noted before 2011 it has not reached. The collapse in demand caused by the global corona crisis, the outlook for återh ä mtning also remain is bad.

  • Check this abbreviation website to find three letter ISO codes for all countries in the world, including LBY which represents the country of Libya. Check findjobdescriptions to learn more about Libya.

The Tripoli central bank, which received oil revenues from the state oil company, has continued to pay salaries to people employed by the state before 2014. But in practice, the state economy has become increasingly divided as the eastern Benghazi / Tobruk regime manned own ministries and armed forces. Libya already had more government employees in relation to the population than almost any other country, and now the two countrymen have dual administrations in several respects, and were their central bank.

In October 2019, the Tripoli government introduced a halt to wage increases for government employees. The salaries of more than 150,000 employees in the education system were completely withdrawn; those concerned were invited to prove their qualifications in order to continue their employment. The Treasury also undermined by the large subsidies on basic commodities like fuel and food subsidies that the UN-backed government in Tripoli have been attempts for downstairs.

A military offensive against the capital from the warlord Haftar’s forces in the east has worsened the situation since the spring of 2019, jeopardizing both food supply and energy production. The escalated war caused the development to go back again after a couple of years when not least oil production had increased again. Air traffic to and from the capital is just one of many important functions hindered by the fighting, and government revenues are eaten up by war costs.

From the east, it has been said that the staff employed there in recent years also receive pay through the parallel central bank, which has raised loans to finance the alternative state apparatus. UN expertise has reported to the UN Security Council that for several years Haftar has been using a Russian banknote printing machine, which delivered Libyan currency worth several billion dollars to the East Central Bank. On the Russian side, it has been argued that Haftar’s regime is legitimate and that its banknote issuance is legal, while the United States considers it to be counterfeit. Reports that “east currency” has been seized in Malta have been hailed in Washington.

Widespread corruption and smuggling of subsidized goods to neighboring countries are blocking the crisis.

At the beginning of 2020, the United Nations Food Program WFP provided approximately 1 00 000 internal refugees and 25 000 migrants with assistance in the form of food packages.

Attempts previously made to reduce the importance of oil, including ambitious plans to develop agriculture and industry, did not work out well.

Increased exchange with China

Oil, the wholly dominant export commodity, accounts for at least 95 percent of revenue. Natural gas has become an important export commodity, especially since a pipeline to Italy was completed in 2004. E uropean countries took at the end of the 00’s received more than four-fifths of exports, with Italy as the largest recipient. Just under a tenth went to China, whose share was on the rise already during Gaddafi’s era. No reliable figures are available for recent years.

Much of the imports, which include food, come from the same countries. China’s share of imports has also increased and Turkey is also an increasingly important trading partner.

The ports of Tripoli and Benghazi were expanded in the 21st century. The oil is transported through pipelines from the oil fields to terminals on the coast, from where it is shipped to customers abroad. Regular production stops occur as a result of contradictions between local authorities and the government (see Calendar).

Libya has a fairly well-developed road network, but maintenance is lagging and the roads are trafficked by cars in poor condition. Several railway lines began to be built towards the end of Gaddafi’s empire, but the war in 2011 led to the work being interrupted. The head of the Transport Ministry stated in 2019 – when money was budgeted for repairs for the first time – that some roads were not repaired in 60 years. He also pointed out that the risk of accidents is great: 2,500 deaths in 2018 meant that the traffic required more lives than the violence between armed groups. In the two million city of Tripoli, the number of privately owned cars increased from 600,000 to two million between 2010 and 2019. This has been done by importing cheap used cars – often without seat belts and airbags -. In February 2019, the government imposed an import ban on cars older than ten years. The gasoline is state-subsidized: one liter of gasoline costs less than one liter of mineral water, according to the AFP news agency.

In theory, there are good conditions for tourism: sunny beaches and grand historical remains from Greek and Roman times, including in Sabrata, Leptis Magna, Cyrene and Apollonia. Desert oases and prehistoric cave paintings should also be attractive targets. During the Gaddafieran, the government refused to invest in tourism for a long time. Moreover, the country’s bad reputation frightened Western visitors, and Libya’s isolation during the 1990s made it impossible to invest even after the government’s attitude began to soften. First, in the early 00s began Wasps me n u tvecklas. In the Civil War et which erupted in 2011, with continued instability and growing Islamist influence, is now believed to have pushed the tourism industry into sank for a long time to come.


GDP per person

US $ 7,235 (2018)

Total GDP

US $ 48 320 million (2018)

GDP growth

7.8 percent (2018)

Agriculture’s share of GDP

1.8 percent (2008)

Manufacturing industry’s share of GDP

4.5 percent (2008)


4.2 percent (2019)


Libyan dinar

Merchandise exports

US $ 6,764 million (2016)


US $ 8 667 million (2016)

Current account

– US $ 4 705 million (2016)

Commodity trade’s share of GDP

70 percent (2018)

Main export goods

crude oil, petroleum products, natural gas

Largest trading partner

Italy, Germany, France, Spain, China

Libya Economy Facts

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