KPMG is launching its new member firm in Libya from January 1, 2014. The firm has been operating in this market for the past seven years through a local representative firm but has long intended to upgrade its presence in Libya to a full-service member firm.

A number of factors prompted KPMG International to make this commitment. Firstly, the firm is looking at the North African and Middle Eastern region as an emerging market, and Libya itself is being looked at as a pre-emerging jurisdiction. Secondly, a significant number of the firm’s multinational clients are present and operating in or from Libya, and the firm has a deep-rooted commitment to expand its global reach to wherever it needs to provide professional services to its premium global clients.

In addition, the firm is increasingly conscious of the growing momentum of regional and local business that is contributing to the vibrant rate of economic activity in North Africa. While the political environment is still uncertain, the region presents a significant economic opportunity as regional and local inves­tors eye the potential inherent in countries with young, better educated workforces.

This is even more relevant in Libya today. Clearly the country is experiencing political and social instability, as the country gains its initial experiences of democracy after four decades of dictatorship. Libya successfully organised and held its first recent free elections in 2012, with a democratic process returning a spectrum of parties and individuals to represent the Libyan people in Congress, and a functioning parliamentary democ­racy, albeit occasionally imperfect and disjointed.

In the background to the political and security hiatus, economic activity has been stimulated, largely driven by infrastructural investment

In the background to the political and security hiatus that, at times, arose and dominated media attention, economic activity has been stimulated. This was largely driven by infrastructural investment, as diverse sectors including energy, telecommunications, and transport, exhibit significant investment needs and the Libyan government is granting large contracts to international operators to address many of these requirements.

It is a long and occasionally difficult process, and inevitably it will not proceed without disruptions, but as infrastructure contracts are fulfilled, business opportunities will disseminate in the related industry clusters and the economic multiplier effect will generate new activity and new opportunities.

At a social level, the man in the street looks at the future with hope. Most Libyans seek an improvement in their material standard of living, and are realistic in hoping for economic development as a stimulant to create more and better jobs.

Libya today has a high level of unemployment, particularly among youths, and significant underemployment across many categories of labour. This is a pool of opportunity. Libyan labour under the direction of expatriate management has proven to be adaptable and enthusiastic, and reacts positively to training and empowerment.

In the context of these opportunities, KPMG in Libya will be offering the full range of professional services taken to clients by the firm worldwide. The firm in Libya starts with a relatively small manpower complement, but with the tangible backing and support of the global firm that allows it to leverage the full breadth of expertise and experience in KPMG’s European and Middle Eastern regions.

KPMG will offer a full range of audit, tax and advisory services, including straightforward and pragmatic advice on setting up business in Libya, a full suite of tax audit and compliance services, tax advisory support and comprehensive management consulting, financing, and transactions and restructuring services.

The information contained herein is of a general nature and is not intended to address the circumstances of any particular individual or entity. Although we endeavour to provide accurate and timely information, there can be no guarantee that such information is accurate as of the date it is received or that it will continue to be accurate in the future. No one should act upon such information without appropriate professional advice after a thorough examination of the particular situation.

Mark Bamber is the chief executive officer of the KPMG member firm in Libya. He is an economist by profession, and brings extensive experience of providing advisory services in Malta.

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