UK CONTRACTORS could lose out to US firms in the massive building boom planned for Libya.
That was the warning this week from Oliver Miles who was the last British ambassador before the countries severed diplomatic ties following the killing of policewoman Yvonne Fletcher outside the Libyan embassy in central London in April 1984.
Mr Miles, who now runs a specialist Middle East business consultancy MEC International, told Construction News: 'The US has maintained sanctions until recently but they are starting to lift them.There is the assumption there will be a big rush of US firms into the market. British firms had better get their skates on.'
He added that UK contractors could easily double the current £241 million worth of business they did with Libya last year.
Mr Miles said: 'Libya is not a closed market like Iraq. It is an important oil producing country and has been a tranquil, secure place.'
Prime minister Tony Blair visited Libya's leader Colonel Gaddafi in Tripoli in March and trade and investment minister Mike O'Brien led a British delegation to Tripoli two weeks ago after the North African country agreed to give up weapons of mass destruction last year.
A spokesman for UK Trade & Investment said:
'British business can play a large part in Libya's future.We feel that we're moving along at the right pace.'
A second, sold-out trip is due to fly out to Tripoli this Saturday and has been organised by the British Consultants and Construction Bureau, attracting companies such as WS Atkins and Hyder.
BCCB deputy chief executive Nigel Peters said:
'Looking around that region, Libya is very interesting.
'The infrastructure is rundown but that is the attraction for firms.Tourism over there is very underdeveloped and is ripe for development.'