UK businesses prepare to cash in

Trade

The Defence Secretary, Philip Hammond, has urged British businesses to begin "packing their suitcases" and head for Tripoli to share in the reconstruction bonanza.

A day after the death of Muammar Gaddafi, Mr Hammond said UK companies had no time to lose.

"Of course I would expect British companies to be, even today, British sales directors, practically packing their suitcases and looking to get out to Libya and take part in the reconstruction of that country as soon as they can," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

Last month Lord Green, minister for Trade and Investment, led a UK delegation, including representatives of BP and Shell, for talks in Tripoli with the National Transitional Council.

It is estimated that the rebuilding of Libya could earn foreign firms up to £130bn.

Before February's uprising, British business interests in Libya were put at £1.5bn, despite complications arising from the release of the Lockerbie bomber Abdelbasat al-Megrahi.

In 2004 Tony Blair lobbied Gaddafi on behalf of Royal Dutch Shell to secure a £325m gas deal in Libya.

British companies earned hundreds of millions from taking part in the reconstruction in Iraq. In 2006, three years after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, The Independent revealed that 61 UK firms were benefiting from at least £1.1bn in contracts and investment.

Mr Hammond, who took over from Liam Fox as Defence Secretary last week after Mr Fox was forced to resign over his relationship with Adam Werritty, said that Nato chiefs would meet to consider whether the mission was complete before drawing up a timetable for disengagement. The Ministry of Defence confirmed the scale of the UK's support for the Libyan rebels. British aircraft flew 3,010 combat and combat support sorties since the start of operations in March.

Mr Hammond said Britain had particular reason to mark the death of the despot. "In the UK we have got the legacy of the Lockerbie bombing, the family of WPC Yvonne Fletcher, we have got thousands of people who have been affected by IRA activity over the decades fuelled on Gaddafi's Semtex," he told the BBC.

Meanwhile Downing Street said David Cameron discussed Libya in a conference call with the US President, Barack Obama, the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, and the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, on Thursday night.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said future reconstruction contracts would be awarded under a United Nations tendering process.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £45,000

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a solutions / s...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £45,000

£18000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Test Development Engineer

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you inspired to bring new a...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Motor Engineer

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific