A temporary Visa system to enable Libyan businessmen to come to Malta for meetings with their Maltese counterparts is being proposed by the Chamber of Commerce.

The government agreed to the proposal with some changes, which were being discussed.

Chamber president Anton Borg told the Economic and Financial Accounts Committee today that that because visas were not currently being issued, business meetings were having to be held in Istanbul or Djerba or risk losing their business.

The proposal is for a 90-day Visa, which would be just for Malta and not covering Schengen countries, and which would only be operated until the situation in Libya improved.

The Chamber would be the point of contact and the Visa would be strictly limited to business travellers.

It would be granted on arrival at Malta International Airport.

Maltese companies would be held responsible for the Visa holders and in the event of a breach they would be blacklisted from the scheme.

The GRTU representative said that giving Libyans a non-Schengen Visa may give a negative message as other countries were still awarding Libyans Schengen Visas.

The Committee was discussing how Malta was affected by the situation in Libya.

A presentation was given by Malta Enterprise chairman Mario Vella.

Dr Vella said that ME was trying to assist with businesses in Libya to diversity and to facilitate that diversification in Africa. Initial results were surprisingly good and every Maltese company which tried to open in these markets had phenomenal success. Exports to the whole of Africa grew strongly and if some companies could do it there was no reason why others could not.

Initial attention was given was to Algeria, which ME was convinced offered major opportunities. ME financed the presence of a consulate in Algiers and as a result, Air Malta started operating a flight to the country. Results were already being felt, Dr Vella said.

The situation with Tunisia, he said, was somewhat more complicated because of the similarity in the products produced.

ME also placed a representative in Addis Ababa and it was ready to move to other countries as soon as these seemed worthwhile. Prospects, he said look good both in East and West Africa and ME was trying yet again to exploit the presence of its consulates in these countries in spite of not really achieving good results in the past.

He said that exports of visible merchandise to Libya, excluding fuels, were close to €58m in 2010, €35m in 2011, €136m in 2012, €138m in 2013 and €123m in 2014.

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