Libya flag Libya: Economic and Political Overview

Foreign trade figures of Libya

Foreign Trade in Figures

Trade has been an important element of the Libyan economy since early 2000s, peaking at 139% of GDP in 2014, before the country mired into another civil war. Nevertheless, its share recovered slightly in the last few years and, according to the latest available data, it reached 114.1% in 2020 (World Bank). Main exports included crude oil, refined petroleum products and natural gas (94% of total exports, UNCTAD), as well as gold, iron, and copper. Significant items of import include refined petroleum, automobiles, transmission apparatus for radio-telephony, rolled tobacco, and medicaments.

Libya is an active member of the AMU (Arab Maghreb Union), and the country's main suppliers are China (16.2%), Turkey (13.7%), Italy (9.1%), the United Arab Emirates (8.9%), and Egypt (5.48%). As for Libya's top export partners, they include Italy (18.1%), China (16%), Germany (15%), Spain (14.6%), and the United Arab Emirates (5.7%).

Libya's economic growth was suspended in 2011 due to the eruption of the civil war. The conflict halted commercial activities, especially exports of oil. In addition, economic and trade sanctions imposed by Western countries before the fall of Colonel Gaddafi significantly hampered trade. According to the last available data from WTO, Libya's imports of good and services decreased by 27.8% in 2020, while exports recorded a decrease of 62.6%, mainly due to the negative impacts of the pandemic. In 2021, imports of goods stood at USD 18.9 billion and imports reached USD 28.9 billion, bringing the trade balance to a deficit of USD 10 billion.

Foreign Trade Values 20182019202020212022
Imports of Goods (million USD) 13,78622,69412,91217,43229,634
Exports of Goods (million USD) 29,83029,0589,31233,41737,686
Imports of Services (million USD) 5,0637,6425,18600
Exports of Services (million USD) 13426822600

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Indicators 20162017201820192020
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 41.147.563.878.2n/a
Trade Balance (million USD) -1,9038,30816,04411,332164
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -4,7003,85711,1153,958-4,797
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -41.627.423.81.42.9
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) -27.0128.622.0-13.0-52.6
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 26.520.424.235.4n/a
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 14.627.239.642.8n/a

Source: World Bank ; Latest available data

Foreign Trade Forecasts 20232024 (e)2025 (e)2026 (e)2027 (e)
Volume of exports of goods and services (Annual % change) -
Volume of imports of goods and services (Annual % change) -2.91.1-2.2-0.5-0.1

Source: IMF, World Economic Outlook ; Latest available data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

International Economic Cooperation
Libya is a member of the Arab Monetary Fund, the Council of Arab Economic Unity, the Islamic Development Bank, OPEC and the AMU. Since 2004, Libya has been an observer at the WTO prior to becoming a member. The country is also part of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA), a pact of the Arab League entered into force in January 2005 which aims to form an Arabic free trade area.

To go further, check out our service Import Export Flows.


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Source: United Nations Statistics Division, 2023. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.

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Latest Update: December 2023

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