Tripoli, the leading port and transportation center, is the focus of trading activities. In 1978, Qadhafi announced that individuals should cease engaging in trade or marketing, and in 1979 the private import-export trade was banned. In 1981, all shops were closed and replaced by huge supermarkets with stocks purchased by the state. About a dozen basic commodities are price-subsidized, and a rationing system was established in 1984. Because of an acute shortage of consumer goods, including food staples, some private stores were allowed to reopen by 1987. The nation depends heavily on imports for basic food products, since, the agricultural sector only provides for about 25% of the nation's food supply (2002 est.). The sale of alcohol is prohibited.
An annual international trade fair is held in Tripoli each March. Normal business hours are 7 AM to 2 or 2:30 PM , Saturday through Thursday. Banks are open Saturday through Thursday from 8:30 AM to 12:30 PM in winter and from 8 AM to 12 PM in summer. Summer banking hours also include 4–5 PM , Saturday through Wednesday.