Politics & Economics

Trade Has Stalled Between Tunisia And Libya After Border Closure

North Africa

The border between Libya and Tunisia at the coastal town of Ras Ajdir has been closing intermittently, causing adverse effects to the local economy on both sides.

Instability in Libya has been detrimental to the development of relations with neighbouring countries. The border crossing between Libya and Tunisia at the town of Ras Ajdir in the north-west country of Libya has opened and closed a number of times due to this instability, negatively impacting trade across the border between the two countries.

There are several businesses on both sides of the border that depend on demand coming from the other country. The closure of the border has meant that trade has slowed down significantly over the past few years and businesses in the local region are feeling the effects. Several traders working in the markets near the border have been forced to shut down over the years.

“We do not have any other source of livelihood if the crossing closes. I graduated in 2007 and that is what I do, as you can see [selling his goods on the street]. I go to Libya once and once to Algeria”, noted Malik al-Ghoul, a clothes trader.

The border has been closed for a range of reasons. Security has been a primary concern, especially for Tunisia, as it seeks to prevent a spillover of the Libyan conflict into its sovereign territory. A number of security incidents have been reported near the borders with Libya. One recent incident was the emergency plane landing of a plan belonging to the Libyan National Army (LNA) in Tunisian territory.

Nevertheless, economic reasons have also been cited for the closure, as the Tunisian authorities have mentioned that they are keen on minimising the amount of Libyan exports to Tunisia, which they deemed to be harmful to the Tunisian economy. The illegal smuggling of fuel across the Tunisian-Libyan border has also been cited as a concern.

The Libyan side has also expressed grievances, stating that Libyan citizens are mistreated when crossing the border.