European funds target Tunisia’s economic recovery
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will soon begin financing major investment projects in Tunisia.
“By the beginning of September, we expect to begin investments in Tunisia in a number of projects,” bank head Thomas Mirow said last week in Tunis after meeting with government officials.
The bank will offer financial resources, as well as expertise in the fields of democratisation and market economies, to stimulate the country’s economic growth after the January 14th revolution, the ERBD chief said at the conclusion of his two-day visit on Friday (May 4th).
The European bank is expected to loan 100 million euros to Arab Spring countries Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and Jordan in 2012 and 5.2 billion euros throughout their remaining democratic transition periods, beginning in 2013.
“The bank is currently focusing its efforts on exploring promising projects in the Tunisian economy, particularly in sectors related to renewable energies,” Mirow said.
Interim Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali welcomed the ERBD assistance. Its experience in supporting small and medium enterprises and private sector development will enable the promotion of employment and contribute to Tunisia’s development objectives, he said.
Jebali said that taking advantage of technical and material aid provided by the bank would pave the way for future projects of common interest.
A Tunisia branch of the EBRD will also open soon. Tunisia became eligible for a branch when it became one of the organisation’s 63 members last December.
Minister of Investment and International Co-operation Riadh Bettaieb stressed at the time that Tunisia’s accession to the global financial institution was an important milestone. The EBRD would accompany Tunisia in its new democratic experience and help it achieve necessary economic and political reforms, Bettaieb said in January.
Through its Tunisia branch, the EBRD will be able to complete investment projects in infrastructure, the banking sector, SMEs, alternative energy and transport: all of which will help create new jobs.
Since the ERBD funds will be distributed to Arab Spring countries based on the anticipated success of the projects, Tunisia is currently looking at projects that would most likely maximise economic growth. Those chosen will receive immediate bank assistance.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development was created in 1991. Management of the bank is overseen by its member countries, the European Union and the European Investment Bank.
Qatar plans to revive US$2bn Tunisia refinery
Qatar’s government said it has revived a plan to build Tunisia’s second refinery and may need a partner for the US$2bn project.
“The costs of the project are very high, and it may require another partner,” Khalid Al-Attiyah, Qatar’s minister for international cooperation, told reporters in the Tunisian capital yesterday. He did not elaborate.
In 2007, Qatar Petroleum won a bid to build the refinery at Skhira as part of a joint venture with London-based Petrofac, a project that was later shelved.
After last year’s uprising that ousted Tunisia’s longtime president, the new government agreed to revive the refinery, which would have an initial capacity of 120,000 bpd, eventually rising to 250,000 barrels.
Qatari Diar planning two tourism projects in Tunisia
Qatari Diar, the property arm of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, is planning two tourism projects in Tunisia, the North African country’s tourism minister said in an interview published on Tuesday.
In an interview in Tunis with the Qatar News Agency (QNA), Tunisian Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Riadh Bettaieb said an agreement had been signed with Qatari Diar for two touristic projects.
The first projects is a desert tourism resort in Tawzar, which is known for its palm oases, and the second is a luxury project planned for Ben Ghayada in Al-Mahdiya, a coastal city about 135 miles south of Tunis.
The projects are pending the completion of studies and are considered to be promising, Bettaieb told QNA.
Tunisia ranks 2nd in Change Readiness Index
Tunisia has been ranked 2nd, just behind Chile, out of 60 emerging countries in the Change Readiness Index.
The Index is set by one of the largest professional services networks in the world and one of the Big Four auditors (KPMG).
Tunisia has been identified as having the ability to grasp the opportunities of a rapidly changing global economy.
Rather than focusing on a country’s performance to date (like most indexes), the Change Readiness Index looks to long-term potentials.
It deals with factors that determine a country’s ability to manage change. This ability is seen by KPMG analysis as one of the main factors contributing to sustainable development and economic growth over the long term.
Tunisia was ranked ahead of Taiwan (3rd), Jordan (4th), Kazakhstan (5th) and Morocco (6th).
According to analysts, smaller countries were best geared to change, seen as the critical factor in determining the capacity for sustained, long-term growth.
Tunisia came 29 places ahead of Brazil and 24th places ahead of South Africa which are part of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa), while China the second largest economy in the world was ranked 13th and India and Russia finished 23rd and 51st, respectively.
To compile this index, KPMG looked at economic diversification, corruption, entrepreneurship, the relationship between business and government, the health of civil society and the investment climate as some of the indicators.
The idea of a Change Readiness Index was floated at the World Economic Forum in Davos last year and over the past few months KPMG and the development institute have been using work by the Economist Intelligence Unit to compile their league table.
Turkey to Increase Trade With Tunisia
Following a visit to the Tunisian capital, Tunis, Turkish economy minister Zafer Caglayan, accompanied by Turkish Exporters’ Assembly (TIM) Chairman Mehmet Buyukeksi and a delegation consisting of 200 businessmen, said that Turkey is set to increase its trade volume with Tunis from $1.1 billion to $5 billion.
On his third trip to Tunis this year, and speaking at the Turkey-Tunis Trade Investment Forum, Caglayan said that historical friendship between the two countries should be turned into investments and cooperation.
Caglayan reiterated that Turkey’s total foreign trade volume amounted to $375 billion, whereas total foreign trade volume in Tunisia amounted to $45 billion, adding, “The sum total of foreign trade volume of the two countries surpasses $400 billion, but the trade volume between the two countries amount to $1.1 billion. This figure is quite far away from reflecting the friendship between the two countries.”
Caglayan also expressed his gratitude about the progress made in establishing an organised industrial zone that will also incorporate Turkish companies. “We are ready for extending all sorts of support on the issue,” Caglayan said.
Caglayan also met Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali. During their talks the Turkish minister emphasised the importance of cooperation between the two countries for the region.
Development of foreign trade in first eight months of 2011
The volume of Tunisian exports reached in the first eight months of 2011, 16,862.9 million Tunisian dinars (MTD) compared with 15,423.4 MTD in the same period last year, which stands at 9.3% rise.
The volume of imports reached 21,787.8 MTD, i.e. a rise of 4.0% compared with the same period in 2010 (20,957.0 MTD).
Therefore, the imports’ coverage rate by exports is estimated at 77.4%, that is a progress by 3.8 points compared with last year.
According to the trade department, this development is due to the increase in the exportation of farming produce and processed-food industries (35.7%), and to the rise in the exportations of electrical industries, (29.1%) textile-clothing and leather (9.0%).
As regards imports, the rise in their volume in the past eight months is due to the increase recorded in the importation of basic farming and food products,(38.9%) energy (21.8%) and semi-industrialised imports (7.9%).
The downward trend in exports regarded the phosphate and by-products (Under 33.1%), and in imports, it was recorded in equipment products (10.7%).
Tunisia Stock Exchange – Working its way back to strength
After a strong year in 2010, the Tunis Stock Exchange (Bourse des Valeurs Mobilières de Tunis, BVMT) is working its way back to strength despite the rough start to 2011. Some sector indexes are on the up, while a new listing and development strategy look set to bring benefits to the bourse, Global Arab Network reports according to Oxford Business Group.
The Tunindex gained 18.4% over the course of 2010, its eighth consecutive annual gain. All 11 of the sectoral sub-indexes tracked by the BVMT were up for the year. The financial services index was the strongest performer, rising by 37.7% for the year as a whole, followed by construction and construction materials (up 27.77%) and industrial shares (up 24.83%). Transaction volume grew by 49% on 2009 figures, while the capitalisation of the bourse as a share of GDP grew to 24.1%, as compared to 20.8% at the end of 2009.
Activity in 2010 was boosted by the reintroduction of tax incentives that allow companies that list more than 30% of their capital on the exchange before 2014 to benefit from a five-year reduction in corporate tax rates, from 30-35% (depending on the sector) to 20%.
The year saw five new share listings, the largest of which were those of Carthage Cement and Ennakl, an automobile distributor. The listing of Carthage Cement raised TD134.9m (€68m) and Ennakl TD128.4m (€64.7m). Carthage Cement has also been among the most heavily traded shares in recent weeks and months. The other companies to have introduced stakes on to the market were from the financial services sector, comprising two insurance companies – Assurances Salim and reinsurer Tunis Re – and Modern Leasing.
By contrast, the market has had a more difficult 2011 so far. Against a background of political unrest, it closed for a two-week period early in the year amid heavy losses. By mid-July the Tunindex stood at 14.9% below levels at the start of the year. Not all of this is attributable to the domestic unrest, however. Markets in nearby Morocco for example are down by some 10%, despite the country experiencing very little upheaval. The index has significantly underperformed the MSCI Emerging Markets benchmark index, which is down approximately 1% for the year. Transaction numbers in the first half of the year also saw a substantial decline to just over 570,000, down from 1.19m in first-half 2010, a drop of 51.67%.
Despite these reversals, over the long term the Tunisian bourse has remained a solid investment. The Tunindex index has posted gains of around 120% over the past five years even despite recent losses. This compares to an increase in value of around 55% for the MSCI Emerging Markets index, representing significant overall outperformance by Tunisia. The index had also posted something of a rally since the beginning of June, gaining 4.26% for the month as a whole and, by early August it was trading around the 4420 mark.
Some sectors have also seen gains since the beginning of the year even though the Tunindex as a whole has fallen. Of the sectoral sub-indexes, the best performing for the year so far as of July 15 was the construction and building materials index, up 9.17% since January. Another two other sectors were also in the black, namely industrial shares, which were up 4.76%, and producers of basic materials, whose shares had risen 3.14%. Consumer goods producers, on the other hand, were down 3.14%.
The worst performers by contrast were banks, some of which have exposure to loans from former regime figures that may not be repaid, helping explain a 19.3% decline for the year to date. Insurers also saw significant falls of 18.57%.
Despite the slow start to 2011 and the continuing difficulties of some sectors, growth on the bourse is resuming. In May the BVMT saw its first new listing of the year, with the addition of technology firm Telnet Holding. Its introduction has underlined continued appetite for new listings on the part of investors. The bourse is also working to attract further introductions, and the success of Telnet offers a useful role model for other potential firms.
In early July the president of the BVMT’s management committee, Fadhel Abdelkefi, announced a new five-point development strategy for the market between 2011 and 2013, based around developing the country’s financial market culture and awareness through media and education outreach campaigns and open days; deepening the market by making more companies eligible to list; further developing the bond market; improving the organisation’s IT platforms, including putting in place a new electronic trading and information platform in 2012; and developing the bourse’s human resources through additional training programmes.
With these plans for the future and the successes of the past, it seems likely that the first half of 2011 will be a blip in the market’s overall trajectory when seen from a longer-term vantage point.
UAE ready to invest more in Tunisia, says Bukhatir Group President
Bukhatir Group will pursue its mega project of the Sports City in the “Berges du Lac.” The announcement was made by the Group President, Mohamed Abdel Rahman Bukhatir, in an interview with African Manager, reiterating the UAE’s willingness to contribute to the realization of investment projects in Tunisia and to strengthen bilateral cooperation, especially in light of the climate of trust in relations between the two countries.
The Group President, speaking on the sidelines of the Tunisian-UAE Partnership and Investment meeting held on Wednesday in the House of the exporter said that “we are willing to invest more in Tunisia where the environment is good and supportive, and we have no obstacle to ensure the success of our projects and expand our partnership with the Tunisian businessmen. This is a good opportunity to strengthen the socio-economic relations. ”
He added that the Group will continue its investment and its presence in Tunisia after a cessation which he attributed to global economic conditions and especially after the meeting held in recent weeks between the prime ministers of both countries and following the studies conducted on the Group’s projects in Tunisia.
Works of the Sports City mega project started in recent months, with land development. The Group expressed, during the meeting, its confidence about the progress of these works, as well as the deadlines for their completion and marketing.
The Tunis Sports City project is one of the mega-projects to be carried out over the next years in Tunis, which should accelerate the momentum of the Tunisian economy through the creation of new jobs.
Total investment for this project is estimated at nearly $ 5 billion, which will be disbursed by the UAE Group to build one of the greatest sports cities in the region, in an area of nearly 257 hectares in the “Berges du Lac.”
The company said it had launched a few months ago a large campaign for recruitment of Tunisian executives and labor for the realization of its project whose plan provides, inter alia, for the creation of nine sports academies, three golf clubs, a shopping complex and nearly 10,000 residential units. The project should create about 40,000 new jobs.
This new dynamic of partnership between Tunisia and UAE was highlighted by Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, Minister of Foreign Trade of the UAE who said that her country’s investments in Tunisia have indeed recorded a real progress during this year, recalling that UAE companies had won in 2006 the trophy of the first foreign investor in Tunisia.
“We are the largest investor in Tunisia, where our investments are approaching the 30% mark in terms of growth to reach a total volume of 3,020.9 million Tunisian dinars.”
As for investment in the tourism sector, she cited, for example, the company “Emirates Emaar Properties,” which was entrusted with the mega tourist resort of Hergla and which is one of the largest property developers in Gulf countries. It is initiated by the first property developer of the world and is estimated at 2.54 billion dinars.
In fact, “Marina Al Qoussour of Hergla” is a project stretching over 442 hectares with over 4,000 residential sites with villas, houses and apartments on the banks of the lake, beach, marina and dockside.
Regarding real estate, she indicated that the real estate company “Dubai Holding” will invest 18 billion dinars in the construction of a new city in the southern lake of Tunis. It stretches over an area of 830 hectares and is designed to reconcile the capital with its coastline, particularly through the creation of a marina, and make it an international platform for business, services and leisure.
Thanks to its importance and its economic and social impacts, this mega-size is a lever for the Tunisian economy.
The UAE minister said Investment of Sama Dubai will generate an average flow of 1.2 billion dinars per year over 15 years, i.e. more than the average of 940 million dinars per year between 2002 and 2005 in foreign investment.
According to her, “Sama Dubai” will complete the project according to the master plan and the schedules set by the State. The project is also funded with 90% in loans denominated in foreign currencies.
As to Mr. Mehdi Houas, Minister of Trade and Tourism, he praised the brotherly relations between the two countries and reviewed the efforts of Tunisia to meet the challenges, internally and externally, to ensure the success of the democratic process and achieve the goals of the Revolution.
On his part, Jalloul Ayed, the Finance Minister called on Emirati businessmen to seize the opportunities offered by Tunisia in various economic sectors, as a platform for regional business, providing access to European markets.
He announced at the partnership meeting, in the presence of more than 40 UAE businessmen, the launch of new investment mechanisms.
He also outlined the various benefits available to Tunisia and which are “likely to enable it to ensure its successful transition to democracy.”
For her part, Wided Bouchamoui, President of UTICA, said that the Revolution of January 14, by cleaning up the business environment, will, with no doubt, provide more flexibility to businesses in this process.
Finally, she noted that world economies cannot take off in the absence of an appropriate healthy and stable environment, indicating that companies are called today to face real challenges and play an important role but within a framework of shared responsibilities.
Kuwait, Qatar and UAE to support economic and social programmes in Tunisia
Global Arab Network – Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait asserted their readiness to back up the Tunisian economic and social revival programme presented in the G8 summit, said, Mr. Moez Sinaoui, in charge of communication at the Prime Ministry. “Qatar, the United Arab Emirates assured the trust placed by the Gulf investors in the Interim Government, the economy and competence of the Tunisians, who enjoy great esteem,” in those countries, reminded Mr. Sinaoui, during the regular meeting with the press in which he presented the balance sheet of Interim Prime Minister Béji Caïd Essebsi’s recent visit to the Gulf countries.
He also highlighted the political scope of this visit, denying allegations which described this tour as a “begging for charity or financial assistance.”
The reason behind the interim PM’s visit to those three countries expresses the will to “pay them homage for commending the Tunisian Revolution and respecting its foundations; as opposed to other countries,” he specified.
Diplomatic relations between Tunisian and Gulf countries experienced some “half-heartedness” during the last two decades, contrarily to those with the West, he explained. “We hope that the visit of Mr. Caïd Essebsi will help energise these relations and encourage the return of the Gulf investors to Tunisia,” he added.
The Interim PM’s talk with his Qatari, Emirian and Kuwaiti counterparts were marked by frankness and the determination to hoist bilateral relations to the highest levels, Mr. Sinaoui said. In this connection, he characterised relations with Qatar of “extremely harmonious,” pointing out that those with the UAE “found again the trust that had been lost,” and those with Kuwait “experience a new burst.”
In another connection, he explained that the National Defence Minister accompanied the Prime Minister in this tour because of Tunisia’s recent signing of a military co-operation agreement with the United Arab Emirates and the will to vitalise a similar accord with Kuwait.
Answering a question on Saudi Arabia, Mr. Sinaoui pointed out that “the Prime Minister did not include that country in his tour.” That country, he said, did not understand the reasons that had sparked off the Revolution of Liberty and Dignity, and the Tunisian people’s demands for change.
When Saudi Arabia expresses its support to the Tunisian Revolution and understands its motives, then, it will be a new stage of the Prime Minister’s trips abroad,” he explained, specifying, nonetheless, that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia “is still a brotherly country.”
Tunisia: Energy investment continues to flow
Global Arab Network – While Tunisia’s oil and gas sector has taken a few knocks over the course of 2011 as a result of the fallout from the Arab Spring, investment by energy companies both large and small continues to flow as firms keep a clear eye to the country’s long-term potential. Many players operating in the sector have been unaffected by the unrest, and some are even doubling down, identifying opportunities to increase their exposure to a promising market as a result of the political transition, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.
Upstream production in Tunisia is relatively modest, particularly when compared to the North African country’s massive hydrocarbons-producing neighbours. Libya has the eighth-largest oil reserves and Algeria has the 10th-largest gas reserves in the world, but Tunisia’s capacity is far more limited, with the world’s 50th-largest oil reserves and 58th-largest gas reserves according to BP’s 2011 “Statistical Review of World Energy”.
Demand in Tunisia outstrips supply, and the nation imports both gas and oil, but plans are afoot to transform the country into a gas exporter by 2014, with the intention of pumping 1.5bn cu metres of gas to Italy via the Transmed pipeline. To achieve this, several field projects on and offshore are in the works, with an estimated $3.2bn due to be spent on major upstream gas projects in the process, including: the South Tunisian Gas Projects, which will funnel gas from four southern concessions to Gabes; the development of the Hasdrubal offshore field, operated by UK-based BG Group; the Chergui field, handled by the UK’s Petrofac; and the Maamoura and Baraka offshore fields, which are supervised by Italian major ENI.
BG Group, one of the largest foreign investors in the country, itself announced in May that it intended to invest $300m its Miskar and Hasdrubal fields. The investment will also allow for the drilling of new wells in the Sfax region.
While the focus has largely been on Tunisia’s gas sector, the oil segment – which churns out around 80,000 bpd according to BP’s “Statistical Review of World Energy” – has been exhibiting signs of growth as well. In February, Austrian energy major OMV completed its $866m purchase, first announced in January , of the Tunisian assets of the US firm Pioneer Natural Resources. OMV said that both firms’ operations continued during the height of the protests at the beginning of the year. The deal will add 5800 tonnes of oil equivalent (toe) – 10% gas and the rest oil – to the Tunisian output of OMV, which produced 6500 toe from its two concessions in the south of the country.
The firm’s Tunisian production levels are also set to receive a boost from the Durra field, which Indonesian partner Medco said in early May would begin production of around 3000 bpd from June. OMV owns a 30% stake in the field alongside Medco, which holds a 20% stake, while ETAP has the remainder.
Smaller firms have also been demonstrating a strong interest as well as confidence in the Tunisian energy sector in recent months. In June, New Zealand Oil and Gas announced that it had won a two-year prospecting permit for in the southern Gulf of Gabes, having submitted an application in August 2010. The company’s chief executive, David Salisbury, said that Tunisia had stood out among the countries the firm was considering because of “its combination of good prospectivity, established exploration and production activity levels, reasonable fiscal terms and ease of doing business”.
Some companies have also identified new opportunities to increase their exposure to Tunisia arising from the political turmoil itself. Irish explorer Petroceltic in May, for example, announced plans to invest up to $100m to acquire interests in Tunisia and Egypt this year, most likely through farm-in deals with firms already operating in the region but having difficulties securing debt-based financing as a result of the unrest.
The unrest has had other limited consequences for Tunisian operators as well. An increase in protest activity over employment and pay in the wake of the political uprising has raised concerns about the possibility of disruptions in the short term. Demonstrators blockaded BG Group offices at Nakta, for example, in mid-May, in spite of a number of offerings by the British company to address protestor concerns, while local fisherman took part in an extended sit-in at Petrofac’s headquarters, calling for compensation for the company’s project’s impact on their livelihood.
However, in spite of this, operators have opted to push forward with their investment plans and ride out their short-term uncertainty in a bid to capitalise on the country’s longer-term appeal. With BG continuing to pour capital into the country, on top of the $3bn it has already invested, and smaller operators launching new prospecting operations, the upstream potential for this small North African country looks sizable. (OBG)
Source : english.globalarabnetwork.com
American businesses step up Tunisia support
A recent visit by the heads of several US corporations is raising hopes about Tunisia’s economic recovery.
A US business delegation has just wrapped up a trip to Tunisia where the heads of seven major companies explored the potential for investments in order to support the country’s transition to democracy.
“The democratic transition won’t be successful without an economic support and assistance that can revive development,” said William Burns, United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, in Tunis on Monday (June 27th).
Speaking at a press conference about the business delegation’s trip, Burns said his country was determined to increase assistance to Tunisia and establish a long-term partnership.
He noted that the US “increased the budget allocated for Tunisia assistance by 15 fold since the outbreak of the revolution, and that as a result, such assistance reached $30 million over the last six months”.
He also confirmed the US president’s personal commitment made during the recent G-8 summit to convince industrial countries of the need to help the Tunisian economy. Burns said that the United States was keen on encouraging US tourists to visit Tunisia, especially after the “Open Skies” project entered into force.
Burns’ press conference came just two days after representatives from seven US corporations – General Electric, Bechtel, Boeing, Coca-Cola, Dow Chemicals, Exxon Mobil and Marriott – finished a visit to Tunisia where they met with government officials and explored business opportunities.
The American executives expressed their determination to create projects in Tunisia in the future. Marriott will develop two tourist projects in the country, according to Edwin Fuller, the company’s managing director of international lodging.
Additionally, Coca Cola announced plans to double its investments in Tunisia. Curt Ferguson, the president of the company’s North Africa and Middle East division, said the soft drink mater was keen to expand its network in Tunisia.
Boeing representative Jeffrey Johnson also praised the developed level of Tunisia’s aircraft component manufacturers. He revealed his company’s intention to expand its investments in Tunisia.
“We have a real desire to expand our investments in Tunisia,” said Jeffrey Immelt, the Chief Executive Officer of General Electric. He said that the transitional period in Tunisia may be very fruitful for US multinational corporations, noting that US businessmen who visited Tunisia were optimistic about the country’s economy.
“We don’t have any specific projects, but the corporations that are here are aware that Tunisia needs projects which can be carried out in the short run and which can have an impact on the long run,” he said.
He added that talks would be held between US businessmen and their Tunisian counterparts to help identify the investment opportunities, noting that the focus would be on the infrastructure sector.
Nearly 80 American companies directly invest in Tunisia, providing about 14,000 jobs. The investments total more than $750 million. The activities cover a wide range of industries, ranging from telecommunications and manufacturing to pharmaceuticals.
In addition to the visit by the US business delegation, Tunisian Finance Minister Jalloul Ayed said at a recent conference in New York that American businesses should get to know opportunities in Tunisia. Ayed added Tunisia could serve as a gateway to European, Arab and African markets.
Source : magharebia.com
Tunisia could become strategic platform for U.S. companies
TUNIS (TAP) – Tunisia could become a strategic platform for American companies in their search of African and even European markets.
Leaders of seven American companies on a visit to Tunisia (June 24-25) said at a news conference held on Friday in Tunis that the main purpose of their visit is to identify opportunities offered by Tunisia to American companies in different sectors, particularly infrastructure, tourism, aeronautics.
“We are not carrying specific projects but the visiting companies are aware that Tunisia needs achievable projects in the short term, which could have a long term impact,” said Mr. Jeffrey R. Immelt, CEO of General Electric.
“We should mobilise capacities available in the country,” he said.
Officials of these multinational companies are very delighted to visit Tunisia in this transition period that could be very fruitful in terms of business.
He also underlined that the talks they will have with Tunisian businessmen will bring considerable contribution to identify investment opportunities in the country and more particularly in the infrastructure sector.
Reviewing the reasons behind this renewed interest shown by the American private sector for Tunisia, these business officials reminded that the presence of American companies in Tunisia and in North Africa is not new.
This region has experienced a remarkable economic development, said Mr. Curtis A. Ferguson, Coca Cola official in charge of the North Africa and the Middle East announcing that this company plans to double its investments in Tunisia.
M. Edwin D. Ed Fuller, President and Managing Director of International Lodging for Marriott International said this company will carry out two projects in Tunisia. He did not provide details on the amount of investment allocated.
Tunisian investors in Qatar set up business council
TUNIS (TAP) – A group of Tunisian businessmen based in Qatar created, early June, a business council meant to be, according to a communiqué, a space of exchange on means to back-up Tunisia’s economy.
The Council will strive, according to the same communiqué, to boost Qatari direct investments in Tunisia, promote trade exchange between the two countries and encourage Tunisian young skills’ employment, mainly university graduates among them.
Recently set up, the Council is to contribute to stepping up implementation pace of agreements signed in December 2010, between Tunisia and Qatar as part of Tunisian-Qatari High Joint Commission.
According to Council chairman Noureddine Zekri, this initiative had a favourable feedback from Qatari business circles.
In a telephone interview with TAP news agency, Mr. Zekri voiced the Qatari businessmen’s will to create joint ventures in Tunisia, reminding that the Council will endeavour, in association with Tunisian Trade, Industry and Handicrafts Union and Qatari official institutions, to achieve the hoped-for objectives, he added.
AfDB commits 137 million Euros for Tunisia-Libya motorway
TUNIS (TAP) – The African Development Bank (AfDB) approved, during a meeting of its Board of Directors held on June 21, a loan of 137.34 million Euros for Tunisia to finance a motorway project linking Gabes to Ras Jedir.
The loan was granted to the “société Tunisie Autoroutes” (Tunisia Highways Company).
The overall project involves the construction of 195 km road 2×2 between Gabes and Ras Jedir (Tunisian-Libyan border), said a statement of AfDB.
The project is also financed by the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) with a loan amounting to 136.47 million Euros and the “Tunisie Autoroutes” to 180.97 million Euros.
The aim of the project is to reduce regional disparities and ensure better accessibility between the North, South and East of the country.
It will also allow to construct on the Tunisian territory an essential link of the Trans-Maghreb motorway, thus contributing to the regional economic integration of Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) countries.
Regarding employment, the construction of this motorway would help create nearly 2,160 direct jobs (2,000 in the phase of construction and 160 during the operation), in addition to indirect jobs.
The construction of the motorway link will allow in the short term to create 30,000 jobs only in the tourist sector, the statement added.
FIPA sees good prospects for FDI in Tunisia
TUNIS (TAP) – The 33 new foreign companies that started production after the Revolution of January 14 and the expansion of 65 companies already in place are strong evidences that companies have not lost confidence in Tunisia,” Director-General of the Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA) Noureddine Zekri told TAP news agency.
After the fall of Ben Ali’s regime, 60 delegations of foreign investors from several countries (USA, Great Britain….) and 15 international companies operating in outsourcing had visited Tunisia to get to know about the business climate, he added.
“The new Tunisia will offer a healthy atmosphere to foreign investors and put an end to all obstacles they faced in the past,” Mr. Zekri said, adding that all indicators augur of good prospects for foreign direct investments (FDI) in Tunisia.
Two days before the opening of the ” 2011 Tunisia Investment Forum” to be held on June 16-17 in Gammarth (Tunis Northern Suburb), the official said that ” this event will help enhance the post-revolutionary image of Tunisia and stress the importance of new opportunities for attracting FDIs.”
“Investment in a ‘democratic and pluralistic’ environment will give more credibility to Tunisia and its business climate.”
“The 2011 Tunisia Investment Forum” seeks to rectify the image conveyed by some foreign media on the security situation in the country (lack of security, strikes, sit-ins….) during that period, said Mr. Zekri.
“These media did not mention in parallel the resumption of activities of foreign companies in the country only two weeks following their interruption after January 14.”
According to the FIPA official, 1 000 participants including 320 foreign investors from 26 countries will take part in this forum. “This reflects the confidence of foreign investors in Tunisia,” he highlighted.
Asked about the impact of the wave of claims for wage increase on foreign companies, the FIPA Director-General said that they responded positively by improving the social situation of their employees without waiting for the next negotiations.
He called, to this end, to take into consideration the efforts made by these companies during the negotiations on wage increase to ensure their financial stability.
He stressed the need to put an end to strikes and sit-ins, which would push foreign companies to leave Tunisia to other investment sites.
After January 14, 2011, the wave of strikes and sit-ins led to the cessation of activities of 45 foreign companies or joint ventures out of 3 200 companies set up in Tunisia. These companies employed 3 000 workers. Yet, large companies did not left the country.
Source : tap.info.tn
Tunisia: Increase in Exports, Signs of improvement
Global Arab Network – Following GDP growth of around 3% in 2010, the consensus view on Tunisia is that 2011 is likely to see a slight decline, to just over 1%, as a result of domestic and regional political upheaval. However, recent developments provide grounds for optimism, including credit outlook rating improvements and the strong performance of exports in the first four months of the year, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.
GDP growth in the last quarter of 2010 stood at 3.1%, according to the National Institute of Statistics (NIS), bringing the total for the year as a whole to 3%. By sector, manufacturing grew by 8.5% in 2010, driven partly by a 6% rise in textiles, its largest segment, while services increased by 5.4%, including 4.3% growth in tourism (hotels and restaurants), an expansion of 5% in the financial services, and 13.5% growth in postal and telecoms. Agriculture and fisheries fared less well, contracting by 8.7%, according to NIS data.
However, 2011 is shaping up in far different fashion. In addition to problems caused by the political unrest earlier in the year, such as a downturn in tourist arrivals, Tunisia’s economy has also been hit by the conflict in neighbouring Libya, which is a trading partner and major tourism source market. In March the African Development Bank (ADB) published a briefing on the situation in Tunisia that provided three scenarios for economic growth in the year ahead.
According to its middle scenario GDP will grow 1.1% – roughly in line with government’s own forecasts of 1% and the IMF’s forecast of 1.25%. The prediction is based on a 20% year-on-year (y-o-y) fall in tourism receipts as a result of January’s upheaval. Under this scenario the current account deficit will expand to 7.6% of GDP, from an estimated 4.7% in 2010, as a result of factors such as lower tourism receipts. Recent spikes in international wheat prices are also likely to put pressure on the trade and current account deficits, given Tunisia’s high per capita wheat consumption, as well as on the fiscal deficit (the government subsidises bread production), which the ADB’s middle scenario forecasts to reach 5.2%, from an estimated 2.6% in 2010.
However, the economy may perform better than the consensus outlook. The most optimistic of the three scenarios sees growth in 2011 reaching 3.6%, followed by 4.2% in 2012. This is is dependent on a sustained return to normality, the rapid recovery of the tourism sector (to 95% of tourism receipts taken in 2010), strong foreign direct investment (FDI) and a targeted stimulus package.
In the worst scenario, however, the ADB forecasts a contraction of 2.5% in 2011, in the event of prolonged political and social instability. In the bank’s view, this situation could result in sharp declines in both public and private investment and a substantial hike in public sector hiring, leading to a growing fiscal deficit, an increasing current account imbalance and a rise in inflationary pressure.
While noting serious challenges including political and security issues, pressure on the economy and the underlying problem of widespread youth unemployment, the ADB briefing points out that the return of general calm to most of the country and popular support for the interim government’s actions during the first two months of its political transition are grounds for “cautious optimism”. It also notes that improvements in transparency and the business environment, as well as a potentially more liberal economic regime, could support a significant improvement in growth in the longer term.
Other observers appear to share such optimism. For example, following several credit rating downgrades at the height of the political unrest in January, in mid-March Standard & Poor’s removed Tunisia from its negative credit watch list, upgrading its outlook to stable.
In addition, some recently released data support increasing positivity about Tunisia’s prospects. Exports rose by 11.1% y-o-y in the first four months of 2011 to TD8.12bn (€4.09bn). Consumer goods exports increased by 14%. Exports outpaced import growth of 5.1% – to TD10.51bn (€5.29bn) – thus reducing the trade deficit by 11.3%. FDI fell by 24.5% y-o-y from TD594m (€299m) in the first four months of 2010 to TD449m (€226m), according to the Foreign Investment Promotion Agency. However, some sectors have bucked the trend. For example, FDI in the services sector shot up 15% y-o-y in the first quarter of 2011, to TD62.1m (€31.3m), thanks in part to significant investment in telecoms.
To assure the stability of the economy going forward, the current transitional government is seeking $25bn of investment, loans and aid over the coming five years. Under the so-called Jasmine Plan, the government will also establish a state-run fund to invest in major infrastructure projects, as well as another aimed at supporting local businesses.
There appears to be strong international willingness to provide aid to ensure the country’s democratic transition proceeds smoothly, with a group of influential international economists calling on the G8 to provide similar sums to those requested by the government and US President Barack Obama in late May, and asking the IMF and the World Bank to present a plan to stabilise Tunisia’s economy. (OBG)
Source : globalarabnetwork.com
African Development Bank Extends USD500 million to Tunisia
Budget support loan to help post revolution transition
The African Development Bank (AfDB) Board of Executive Directors today approved a USD500 million loan to support the Tunisian government in its post-revolution transition. Its goal is to help restore socio-economic stability in Tunisia and engender inclusive economic growth that benefits all Tunisians.
This fast-disbursing emergency support programme, disbursed in a single installment, is a new approach that allows the African Development Bank to better respond to the emergency needs of African countries.
This AfDB financing is part of an overall USD1.4 billion programme financed by the World Bank (USD 500 million), the European Union (EUR 90 million), and the French Development Agency (EUR 185 million).
Tunisian Prime Minister Beji Caïd Essebsi has commended the African Development Bank as the first international financial institution to reach out to the country in the immediate aftermath of the 14 January revolution. “Tunisia very much appreciates all the support received from African Development Bank,” Prime Minister Essebsi told AfDB President Donald Kaberuka, when Mr. Kaberuka paid a courtesy call on him in April. “The Bank has staunchly supported Tunisia over the years, and in particular in the difficult times we have just gone through,” he said.
African Development Bank Group President Donald Kaberuka said: “The African Development Bank stands by the people of Tunisia and North Africa during these challenging times and could provide USD5 to 7 billion in support of the region’s economic transition towards stronger and more inclusive growth during the coming years.”
The loan programme will immediately address the demands of Tunisians, heard so audibly during the revolution. It consists of three key pillars: reduce regional disparities by improving access to social services in underserved regions; create and preserve jobs; and strengthen citizen voice and accountability.
One of its priorities will be to help the government reduce youth unemployment, especially among recent graduates. Another is to reduce the gap between the rich and the poor, particularly between wealthier coastal regions, and more impoverished regions in the interior of the country. Jacob Kolster, AfDB Regional Director for Tunisia, Libya and Egypt, said: “Investing in voice and accountability mechanisms and restoring the investment climate are critical for economic growth that is equitable, thereby creating a renewed sense of hope for the Tunisians, for the future.” The country’s challenges have been amplified by the impact of the revolution, particularly as a result of lower tourism revenues, the suspension of investments, and rising unemployment.
The African Development Bank will work closely with the Tunisian government at the national, regional and local levels as well as with civil society and other stakeholders to ensure that the loan objectives are met, with clear and tangible results on the ground, especially in the poorest areas.
Source : afdb.org
Tunisia seeks foreign investment
A new Tunisian programme hopes to attract foreign investment and boost economic opportunities.
New Tunisia, New Opportunities” is a just-launched programme designed to encourage foreign investment and kick-start Tunisia’s economic recovery.
“This plan is aimed at Tunisia’s foreign partners, to reassure them and promote the image of Tunisia as a country recovering calmly and confidently; a country capable of keeping its economy rolling,” said Mokhtar Chouari, information attaché at the Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA).
The promotion scheme runs from mid-April through mid-July 2011. The plan was created by FIPA, the Agency for the Promotion of Industry and Innovation, the Export Promotion Centre (CEPEX), and the Ministry of Industry and Technology.
“The promotion plan is aimed at raising the awareness of collectors and investors from France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, Spain and Britain, on priority sectors such as mechanical and electrical industries, outsourcing, textile and Tunisian exports,” Chouari added.
According to FIPA, the promotion programme was launched at a time when the spirit of the revolution dominates the image of Tunisia, shaking investors’ confidence.
The aim of the promotion plan, according to the agency, is to arrange for media interviews abroad and foreign media visits to Tunisia, air commercial spots, as well as organise the Tunisian Investment Forum on June 17th.
Marking the occasion, a workshop on “Democratic Transition: the Challenges and Prospects of Improving the Business Climate” will be held, along with two other workshops on “Tunisian Areas: Most Competitive Sites for Foreign Investment”. The events will showcase success stories about foreign enterprises, as well as the outsourcing sector as a tool to create jobs, along with testimonies from workers in the sector.
The Tunisian economy was hit hard by recent unrest, with more than 40 firms suspending operations. That downturn in foreign direct investment led to a loss of 2,839 jobs. While the service sector has seen growth recently, foreign investment in the Tunisia’s overall economy was down 28.8% in the first quarter. Manufacturing saw a downturn of 23.3% and the energy sector marked a 30.8% falloff in foreign investment.
Despite those results, the first trimester of 2011 saw the launch of 76 projects, with the creation of 1,547 job opportunities. Additionally, 3,135 foreign enterprises resumed their businesses in Tunisia.
FIPA stressed that Tunisia will attract greater investments in the medium term, possibly including global companies such as Fidelity, Atos, Origin and Logic.
“The revolution is an appropriate opportunity to open up to new and competitive enterprises at the international level,” Chouari said.
“Tunisia could benefit more from historic, competitive advantages that will enable the country to attract a new generation of foreign investments with high-tech content,” he said, adding that an atmosphere of freedom and democracy would be an important factor in attracting foreign investments.
Source : magharebia.com
Tunisia: Mega projects to be carried through
Developers of large-scale projects, such as the “Tunis Financial Harbour,” “Sports City,” “Sama Dubai” and the Swiss bio-mass fuel project, in Tataouine, voiced in a correspondence to the Planning and International Co-operation Ministry readiness to carry through their planned investments in Tunisia, after suspension due to the January 14, 2011 Revolution.
Planning and International Co-operation Minister Abdelhamid Triki said, during a news conference held on Wednesday in Tunis, that the Ministry set up a commission made up of the different concerned Ministries State Property, Transport and Equipment, Finance, Justice, etc. to study again these files.
The commission is also to be tasked with identifying means that would ensure the completion of these projects.
The Tunisian Government had concluded with foreign investors deals providing for the achievement of such mega projects as the Tunis Financial Harbour, whose cost is estimated at 5 billion dinars, and the Tunis Sports City project, by the “Boukhater Emirates” group, in the Tunis northern lake shore, and the Swiss bio-mass fuel project in Tataouine (acacia planting, financing and exporting wood), worth 900 million euros.
Mr. Triki pointed out that some projects have been suspended due to volatility of the business environment and lack of visibility for some investors.
Tunisia-Turkey: new co-operation opportunities
Examination of the state of economic relations binding Tunisia and Turkey and identification of new co-operation opportunities, notably through the establishment of tripartite partnership, were the focal points of the meeting held Tuesday in Tunis between Tunisian Trade and Handicrafts Union (UTICA) Chairman Mohamed Ben Sedrine and Turkish Deputy Undersecretary of State in charge of Foreign Trade Bulent Ugur Ecevit.
Mr. Ben Sedrine stressed the importance of Tunisian-Turkish partnership during the next stage, given the development potential offered by Tunisia to Turkish investors.
In turn, Mr. Bulent Ugur Ecevit commended the Tunisian Revolution which brought about a new burst of freedom and democracy in Tunisia, reminding of Turkey’s commitment to help it at this crucial stage.
He added that the objective of his visit is to discuss with the Tunisian side possibilities to further develop the economic relations between the two countries.
Besides, the Turkish official underlined that the disturbance suffered by some Tunisian and foreign enterprises operating in Tunisia could cause harm to the image of the country, which has long been known for its being a privileged investment destination in the Mediterranean region.
The Turkish delegation proposed to create a Tunisian-Turkish trade centre in Tunis, with a view to developing exchanges between the two countries.
The total amount of Turkish investments in Tunisia stands at about 670 million dollars, under the shape of large-scale projects in different regions of the country.
Source : tap.info.tn
GTF finances two governance projects in Tunisia
TUNIS, April 5, 2011 (TAP) – The Governance Trust Fund (GTF), financed by Norway and Switzerland and managed by the African Development Bank (ADB) Partnerships and Cooperation Unit, will finance in 2011 two projects to improve transparency and good governance in Tunisia by means of a global amount worth 584 000 US dollars (about 812 000 Tunisian Dinars).
According to the ADB, the first project provides for the setting up of an African network of procurement markets by means of an investment worth about 244 000 US dollars (about 338 000 TD).
The point is to finance the activities of this network whose aim is to back up public parties and ease the exchange of experiences and good practices at the African level.
The second project, worth about 340.000 US Dollars (about 472 000 MTD), aims to improve the performance of social services and the use of public funds. It is also intended to increase citizens’ role in matters of governance at local and national levels and reach a higher level of transparency in the management of public resources.
ADB will support the implementation of these projects in collaboration with the concerned Tunisian authorities, such as the Ministry of Finance.
GTF Oversight Committee met last March 30 in Tunis to discuss the 2011 action plan, during which it will finance 8 programmes for a total amount of 2,5 Million Dollars in seven ADB member countries, including Tunisia.
American power project in El Borma under study
An American energy project worth 500 million dollars (1 dollar equals about 1.38 dinar) is presently under study, announced, on Monday in Tunis, US assistant Secretary for Trade Promotion and Director General of the US and Foreign Commercial Service Suresh Kumar.
This project, to be achieved by an American enterprise in El Borma (Tataouine) in the Tunisian south, is to produce conventional and clean energies, the American official specified.
In a news conference held on the fringes of his visit to Tunisia at the head of a delegation of American businessmen, Mr. Kumar said that the American delegation’s visit, on March 28 and 29 March, aimed to highlight U.S. commitment to support Tunisia at this stage and look for opportunities of projects and job creations in the energy fields, ICTs and security.
He also pointed out that the visit aims to explore possibilities to encourage Tunisian exports to the American market and explore means to make the most of the Tunisian legislation in matters of free trade, in such a manner as to develop the bilateral trade exchanges.
The American official voiced “optimism” about Tunisia’s economic situation, further elaborating that the country, with its young and dynamic workforce and its geographic closeness to Europe and Africa, could become a platform for goods and services exportation to the United States.
The American delegation, made up of ten active American operators in the solar energy sector, ICTs and security equipments, is to hold talks during this visit with Tunisian officials, as well as individual meetings with Tunisian heads of enterprise.
Since the January 14 Revolution, several American officials have visited Tunisia, notably U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Jeffrey Feltman.
WB to contribute to financing two new projects in Tunisia
UNIS, March 17, 2011 (TAP) – The World Bank (WB) is to contribute to the financing of two new agricultural projects in Tunisia, announced on Thursday representatives of the international institution who met, in Tunis, Agriculture and Environment Minister Mokhtar Jellali.
With an investment of 87.9 million dinars, the first project concerns achievement, during the 2011-2015 period, of the second part of the natural resources management in three governorates—Jendouba, Kasserine and Medenine. This will help improve income of about 733,000 inhabitants from 72 delegations.
The second development project, worth about 80 million dinars, is to be carried out in the Tunisian north-eastern forest and mountainous areas.
The aim is to improve the socio-economic conditions of inhabitants of the Jendouba, El Kef and Bizerte regions.
On this occasion, Mr. Jellali called on WB to further contribute to financing integrated agricultural development schemes in Tunisia, highlighting the importance the World Bank’s participatory approach as part of achieving agricultural projects and local and regional development programmes.
Tunisia: A profitable year for banking sector
Provided it is able to move past the political uncertainty of early 2011, following a strong year in 2010, the banking sector looks set to profit from the improving global economic outlook and renewed efforts to tackle the issue of non-performing loans (NPLs) in 2011, although some questions remain about the government’s plans in the longer term, particularly in regard to efforts to make the North African state a regional centre for finance, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.
While final figures are not yet available, 2010 seems to have been a good year for the sector. Maxula Bourse, a leading local brokerage firm, estimated that net banking profits for the year rose by more than 20% on 2009 figures, to reach TD504m (€257.08m). While not all banks have yet announced their end-2010 numbers, the early signs are positive, with the country’s second-largest bank, the publicly owned Société Tunisienne de Banque (STB), reporting that deposits grew by 8.46% to TD5.1bn (€2.6bn) in 2010, while its loans portfolio increased 12.46% year-on-year to TD5.4bn (€2.75bn). This translated into profit growth of 5% over the previous year, to TD42m (€21.42m).
The authorities are working to further improve the prospects for the sector, and the central bank is also taking action to ensure the smooth functioning of the financial system in the wake of the country’s ongoing political transformation. While it is not yet clear whether the effort will continue following the change of government, the previous administration had been taking steps to transform Tunisia into a regional financial services centre as part of a long-term development plan for the sector. In June 2010 the government had outlined a number of measures to help realise this goal, including reducing the country’s NPL ratio to less than 7% of loans, promoting the establishment of 400 new bank branches and raising the sector’s contribution to GDP from 3% to 5%.
Other steps outlined under the long-term plan for the sector included the creation of two new banking organisations, with the first, Tunisia Holding, developing strategy for the sector and monitoring publicly owned banks, and the second, Al Moubadara, specialising in providing short-term loans for small and medium-sized enterprises. Encouraging consolidation was another goal, with this designed to be achieved in part by increasing capitalisation requirements to TD100m (€51m) by 2014.
Efforts to further reduce NPLs can build on the success of recent years, which has seen the NPL ratio fall from 24.2% in 2003 to 15.5% in 2008 and 13.2% in 2009, with the latter breaking down to 14.1% for publicly owned banks and 12.5% for private banks, according to the IMF. The provisions ratio for NPLs increased from 44.1% in 2003 to 58.3% in 2009 – 57.1% for state-owned banks and 59.2% for private banks. The ratios for both vary widely from bank to bank, however, with some institutions performing better than others.
While 2010 figures for the sector as a whole are not yet available, STB, for example, reported an NPL rate of 18.8% and a provisions ratio of 46.8% at the end of 2010. Attijari Bank reported a higher-than-average NPL provisions ratio of 68.1%, up from 64.2% in 2009. Arab Tunisian Bank’s provisions ratio was higher still at 75.2%, up from 73.2% in 2009, with an NPL rate of 7.1% in 2010, down from 8.7% in 2009. Banque Internationale Arabe de Tunisie (BIAT) reported that NPLs fell to 8.2% with a provisions ratio of 71.3% at the end of 2010, down from 9.4% with 70.3% provisioning in 2009.
While the NPLs have been falling and provision rates increasing, the value of retail lending in the banking system has also been expanding. According to figures from the central bank, retail lending stood at TD10.7bn (€5.46bn) in December 2010, up approximately 21% on December 2009 figures. Housing loans/mortgages accounted for 78% of the total, and grew by 26% between December 2009 and December 2010, to TD8.35bn (€4.26bn). Since 2005, mortgage lending has grown more than threefold. Vehicle loans, though accounting for a small proportion of overall consumer finance, have also seen rapid growth in the last five years, rising from TD150m (€76.51m) in December 2005 to TD335m (€170.88m) at the end of last year, an increase of over 120%.
To ensure the continued smooth functioning of the banking system in the light of recent political developments, in January the Tunisian central bank took control of two institutions which have been impacted by the upheaval, Banque de Tunisie and Zitouna Bank, the country’s only Islamic bank. Similarly, in a move to reassure creditors, the central bank told the international press that it held sufficient foreign currency reverses to meet the country’s financial obligations.
While the recent political changes may cause a short-term blip in the downward trend of NPLs, the longer-term picture should see progress on this front accelerate. Despite some uncertainty over the new government’s longer-term plans for the sector, with the central bank front and centre in ensuring the stability of the system and addressing the concerns of international creditors and investors, it looks like 2011 will be a year of business as usual for the country’s banks.
EIB allocates 1.87 billion Euros to finance priority projects in Tunisia
During a news conference held at the end of his two-day visit in Tunisia, Mr. De Fontaine Vive, the European Investment Bank’s Deputy Chairman announced that a fund of 1.87 billion Euros (more than 3.6 billion dinars), has been put at Tunisia’s disposal after assessment of the country’s priorities,
Mr. Philippe de Fontaine Vive, voiced will to accompany the democratic transition in Tunisia, specifying that the priorities fixed centre, in particular, round speeding up disbursement of a 1-billion-Euro fund (about 2 billion dinars), already allocated in 2009 and 2010, on public projects in the sectors of sanitation, energy and road infrastructures.
Besides, the creation and development of the small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), by means of mobilizing EIB credit lines to Tunisian banks and leasing companies, totaling an amount of 260 million Euros (500 million dinars).
EIB also plans to support, with an amount worth 140 million Euros (270 million dinars), the setting up of the new Mdhila manufacture of the Tunisian Chemical Group (GCT) to strengthen this group’s position to export.
It will also mobilize an amount worth 160 million Euros (310 million dinars), for the implementation of a large program of road modernization, granting priority to the road infrastructure in the inland regions.
Besides, the European bank has plans to finance by 310 million Euros (more than 600 million dinars), several significant projects, notably in the underprivileged zones: local communities’ equipments, SMEs, and energy in the gas sector.
Mr. De Fontaine Vive stressed that the priorities, fixed in consultation with the Tunisian authorities, target the job-creating projects and improvement of the Tunisians’ daily life.
He said that clear signals to the Tunisian and foreign investors have been sent meaning that new Tunisia is likely to reach, late this year and surely starting from next year, higher growth rate.
He said that, through the mobilization of these funds, EIB intends to contribute to a better distribution of the fruits of development in Tunisia, noting that other projects could be financed depending on the needs expressed by the government or civil society, in the sectors of health, education or vocational training.
EIB Deputy Chairman pointed out that the different European structures—specialised and bilateral agencies—all agree that the time has come to re-launch co-operation with Tunisia.
Answering a question on the possibility of a Marshal Plan for the Mediterranean, he said that a plan of global revival of investment is likely to open up new prospects in matters of job creation and fair distribution of riches.
On the Union for the Mediterranean (UPM), the European official estimated that Union needs to be re-conceived of in such a fashion as to help it better accompany the change taking place in the region.
He hailed to the “extremely positive attitude of the Tunisian people, particularly executives of the public establishments who carry on working, in spite of the conditions prevailing in the country”.
UK Tourists Leading the Way to Tunisian Tourism Recovery
800 British Tourists arrived in Monastir and 1500 to arrive next Sunday
Tunis – Tunisian British Chamber of Commerce, March 3rd 2010 — Tunisian Arabic newspaper “Achourouk” reported today that the Bourguiba International Airport in Skanes Monastir, witnessed much welcomed increased activity on March 2nd 2011. At least four planes carrying the first groups of tourists after the revolution landed there coming from different British Airports carrying a total of 800 British tourists. Tourists boarded from airports in Manchester, London Gatwick, and Belfast.
This is the first time since the dramatic events of the Jasmin revolution that British tourists come to Tunisia, perhaps offering a sign that the Tunisian hopes of recovery for the tourism sector will to be achieved. Recovery has started in the regions of Monastir, Sousse and Mahdia. These trips were organized by the Thomas Cook Travel Agency whose staff worked to enable its customers to visit historic sights in Monastir, Sousse and Hammamet from 2 to 4 March. There have been two more planes that landed in Ennfidha Airport coming from Stuttgart and Frankfurt, carrying about 200 German tourists as well.
The same source asserted that there are 9 trips programmed for next Sunday coming from British airports, and 1500 tourists are expected. The starting of the recovery is due to concerted efforts and in part due to the reassuring travel advisory notice posted by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which encouraged tourists to travel.
AfDB President Commits to Support Tunisia’s Transition
The African Development Bank (AfDB) has expressed its willingness to support Tunisia’s interim government in key economic areas to enable a smooth transition and long-term stability of the country.
Addressing the media on Monday, 14 February 2011 in Tunis, AfDB President, Donald Kaberuka, said that Tunisia would require every support it can get from its partners including the Bank in the course of its transition. These include immediate fiscal and social challenges, as well as structural issues at the heart of some of the country’s problems such as youth unemployment, and regional inequalities.
“Tunisia remains a key partner, the second client of the Bank. We have various commitments to the country at this time totaling 1.4 billion dollars of which about 80% is already disbursed, including a total of nearly 250 million dollars to the private sector,” Mr. Kaberuka said.
The AfDB President addressed the media after a meeting with Tunisia’s interim Prime Minister, Mohamed Ghannouchi, earlier in the day, where they discussed Bank support in key areas such as unemployment, equipping disfavored regions, investment in infrastructure, supporting good governance, and supporting the government with recovery of illicit wealth.
He expressed the Bank’s gratitude to the Tunisian authorities and people for their hospitality in the last eight years as well as for the support provided the Bank received during the revolution.
IMF: Tunisia offers more economic certainties than Egypt
WASHINGTON, Feb. 16, 2011 (TAP) – The economic outlook is more certain for Tunisia than Egypt, said, Wednesday in Washington, Masood Ahmed, Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia.
For the IMF official, whose remarks were reported by AFP, the Tunisian economy will revive more swiftly that the Egyptian one, even though the two economies would be affected by the drop of tourism and reluctance of investors facing the political uncertainty arising from the change of the political regime.
“The Tunisian authorities themselves said they expect a growth of 2% to 3% in their economy this year. In our point of view, this seems a very reasonable forecast,”, he said.
“Events are still underway in Egypt, more than Tunisia. It is difficult for anyone, said Mr. Ahmed, to make accurate projections on the extent of the economic impact, noting that in the second half of 2010, the Egyptian economy had grown at an annual rate of about 5.5%.”
After Ben Ali – Tunisia looks toward 5% economic growth
The new year brought radical change to Tunisia, as the country’s long-time president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, was forced to step down in mid-January following a wave of increasingly violent street protests. While this transition has cast an air of uncertainty around Tunisia’s future, the country’s economic performance over the past year was nonetheless impressive.
According to the Tunisian National Institute of Statistics, GDP grew by 3.8% year-on-year (y-o-y) in the third quarter of 2010, following a rise of 3.1% over the course of 2009. The IMF, meanwhile, reported that Tunisia’s growth could increase gradually and reach an average of about 5% over 2010-14.
Real GDP growth has accelerated since mid-2009, reaching 4.5% y-o-y in the first quarter of 2010, driven by 6.6% growth in the non-manufacturing sector, 5.7% in manufacturing, 5.2% in services and 4% in non-merchant services, supported by public administration. However, this was offset by a slowdown in agriculture and fishing, with production declining by 8.6%, as compared to an increase of 6% in 2009, mainly a result of insufficient rainfall.
With a view to improving the performance of the agricultural sector, one of the country’s main aims has been to increase its share of high-quality exports to the global market. To cope with an expected drop in olive oil production, from 160,000 tonnes in 2009/10 to a projected 110,000 tonnes in 2010/11, the government announced the projected launch of a Tunisian quality label for olive oil and unveiled plans to raise the production of packaged and processed olive oil to 10% of total production, Global Arab Network reports according to OBG.
As part of its efforts to tap into the lucrative international market for organic food products, over the past decade Tunisia has been steadily increasing the amount of cultivated land farmed using approved natural methods. As a result, it has become a major player in the organic farming industry, ranked second in Africa and 24th globally in terms of organic production, with the sector aiming to move further up the rankings. Under a programme running from 2009-14, Tunisia plans to increase the total land set aside for organic produce to 500,000 ha by the end of 2014.
Tunisia’s budget deficit is expected to remain at 3% of GDP, the same level as in 2009. Public debt, meanwhile, has continued falling, from 43% of GDP in 2009 to 39% in 2010. In parallel, imports increased by 20% in 2010, while exports grew by 17%. At the end of November 2010 the account deficit stood at 4.6% of GDP, against 2.8% in 2009. However, official estimates originally projected it to fall again, to 3.7% in 2011.
In 2010 the exchange rate of the Tunisian dinar to the euro was stable, a departure from 2009, when its depreciation made it more attractive for EU investors. The EU remains Tunisia’s main trading partner, accounting for 72.5% of the country’s imports and 75% of its exports in 2009.
According to IMF figures, foreign direct investment (FDI) was up by 5% y-o-y in the first four months of the year. The World Economic Forum’s “Arab World Competitiveness Review 2010” said that Tunisia became an “outsourcing hub” in the MENA region, succeeding in attracting FDI both in traditional sectors such as textiles production, car assembly and food processing, as well as in high-value sector such as IT, aeronautics, and customer service. This shift has begun to bear fruit. According to figures from the Ministry of Industry and Technology, around 25% of Tunisia’s 2009 exports were high-tech products. The ministry expects this number to increase to 50% by 2014.
The Tunis Stock Exchange (TSE) ended 2010 at 5111 points, an increase of 19.1%, compared to a rise of 48.4% at the end of 2009. The stock market remains relatively small with around 50 listed companies and relatively low liquidity. The TSE’s rise owed much to the performance of Tunis Re (+110.9%), STIP (+107.1%), El Wifack Leasing (+94.6%), Attijari Leasing (+92.2%), Insurance Salim (+70.9%), Siam (+59.6%) and Amen Bank (+51.6%). Meanwhile, ADWYA (-22.6%), Tunisair (-18.9%), SIPHAT (-14.1%), SOPAT (-12.9%) and SOTUVER (-18.6%) closed with poor results.
According to local media reports, the tourism sector, the country’s largest foreign currency earner, saw overnight stays increase from 27.3m in 2009 to 28m in 2010. However, receipts from tourism fell over the first eight months of the year, from €1.3bn in 2009 to €1.1bn in 2010. Quality has been a particular focus of late, with efforts under way to upgrade infrastructure and improve vocational training centres. Cultural, environmental, wellness and sports tourism are also being developed to balance what is currently a largely seasonal industry. The tourism ministry aimed to welcome 10m tourists per year by 2015, against 7m arrivals in 2009. An influx of Algerian and Libyan visitors – which served to substitute a drop in European tourists during the global recession in 2008-09 – has also been crucial to fiscal stability.
The country’s key challenge is to boost job-generating growth and employment levels, according to IMF economists. As a result of the economic slowdown, unemployment remains high, at 13.3% in 2009, particularly among young graduates (21.7% in 2009). Similarly, inflation – which increased from 3.5 % in 2009 to 4.6% at the end of September 2010 – is an issue that causes hardship among the less well off. These two concerns, allied to a perception of wholly unacceptable levels of corruption, were the main causes of the riots that overthrew the president.
Despite a relatively strong performance in 2010 and gradually improving indicators in some of its main markets in Europe, the ongoing political instability and the public dissatisfaction evident on the nation’s streets make it difficult to predict anything about Tunisia’s fate, let alone its economy.
Source : globalarabnetwork.com
Identifying new partnership opportunities with Great Britain
TUNIS, Feb. 8, 2011 (TAP) – British Foreign Secretary William Hague expressed his country’s readiness to co-operate with Tunisia and back it up in this transitory period, at the bilateral level and as part of the European Union (EU).
He also stressed the will of the authorities to encourage the British private sector to identify new partnership and investment opportunities in Tunisia.
The British official was speaking as he met on Tuesday with Minister of Planning and International Co-operation Mohamed Nouri Jouini, as part of his working visit to Tunisia.
The two sides reviewed the priorities of the caretaker government in the coming period, particularly preparations for the upcoming elections in a democratic, multi-party and transparent climate.
At the social level, emphasis was placed on measures to be taken to improve the social situation and living conditions, mainly in inland areas.
Regarding the economic aspect, Messrs. Jouini and Hague noted the efforts to be made to preserve jobs and create internal and external investment opportunities, particularly with major partners of Tunisia like Great Britain.
Source : tap.info.tn
Tunisia: Investments to improve after ouster of Bin Ali
“The family’s departure will encourage investors a great deal,” Bin Sa’ad said in a reference to Bin Ali’s relatives.
Tunis: The ousting of former president Zine Al Abidine Bin Ali will improve the investment climate in Tunisia and offset losses caused by the revolt against him, Banque de Tunisie’s CEO Mohammad Habib Bin Sa’ad said.
“The family’s departure will encourage investors a great deal,” Bin Sa’ad said in a reference to Bin Ali’s relatives. “Some investors had been reluctant to develop businesses, as they dreaded that the family would take it in full or in part if it flourished,” he added in an interview in Tunis yesterday.
The central bank appointed Bin Sa’ad last week to manage the North African nation’s second-largest bank by market capitalisation, replacing Alia Abdullah, the wife of a former minister close to Bin Ali. The transitional government that took over from the toppled leader ordered a freeze on his assets and on those of his relatives.
Tunisia’s bourse regulator blocked trading in shares representing a 13 per cent stake in the bank held by Belhassen Trabelsi, the brother of Bin Ali’s wife Laila. “The remaining 87 per cent is free, sound and trading,” Bin Sa’ad, who expects the government to take possession of Trabelsi’s stake, said.
CLEAN DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS LIMITED SIGNS UP TO DESIGN A HALF MILLION HECTARE BIOENERGY PLANTATION IN TUNISIA
30 /11/ 2010
CLEAN DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS LIMITED HAS SIGNED AN AGREEMENT WITH A TUNISIAN CEMENT COMPANY TO DEVELOP A 500,000 HECTARE (1.2MILLION ACRES) BIOENERGY PLANTATION. THE OIL FROM THAT PLANTATION WILL BE USED TO POWER CEMENT PLANTS IN TUNISIA, REDUCING CARBON EMISSIONS BY MORE THAN 2,000,000* TONNES OF CO2 PER YEAR OVER THE NEXT 40 YEARS. FURTHER, THE 574,500,000 TREES WILL SEQUESTER MORE THAN 1M** TONNES OF CO2 EVERY YEAR FOR 40 YEARS.) is a London based company with the sole purpose of promoting and facilitating sustainability in energy. Primarily the Company works in the developing world in projects which are centred on bioenergy but supplemented with other forms, for example hybrid bio-wind-solar schemes. Further the Company is working in partnership with industry partners to develop schemes such as this where biological energy stores can be harvested and used in what was previously one of the dirtiest industries we have.
Clean Development Projects Limited (www.cleandevelopmentprojects.com
Working with the local partner, Clean Development Projects will initially make a detailed study of the land allocated by the Government in Tunisia. This study will examine the soil, topography, meteorology, demographics and much more to enable the Company specialists to devise a strategy and draw up a plan for the development of the plantations.
Clean Development Projects uses a proprietary eco-agri technology, similar to organic principles, which is designed to capitalise on the natural ecology of the plants to be used. This requires far less fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides that the usually used around the world. Further it helps restore degraded land and promotes biodiversity.
Beyond the green issues, Clean Development Projects is keen to support the local community. It creates employment opportunities for the local residents by adequately planning the usage of manpower required to maintain such a plantation (traditional methods require one man for 6 hectares, an area 300 x 200m). The target workforce comprises of people from the least privileged parts of society. Therefore the Company together with local partners works to provide education and health care where these are not easily obtained (or at least to supplement the local Government provided services). This includes health, disability and life insurances to ensure the people are well provided for. These efforts are largely funded by trading the carbon credits raised from the plantation.
Where Clean Development Projects work with independent farmers, the Company ensures fair trade pricing using International indices to price the crops purchased. The same principles will be used to ensure the workers are properly paid. For example, workers are encouraged to use the spaces between rows of bioenergy crop to cultivate food crops for their families and keep bees and hens for food and some extra income.
Qatari Diar to build a tourism complex in Tunisia
14 /10/ 2010
Qatari Diar, a property arm of Qatar’s sovereign wealth fund, will build a tourism complex in southern Tunisia at the cost of $80 million, its managing director Mohamed al Hadfa said on Wednesday.
The planned complex, which will include a hotel, shopping centre and other leisure facilities, will be completed within two years over 40 hectares in the city of Tozeur – Tunisia’s main tourism destination at the gate of its desert Sahara south, he added.
Tourism is Tunisia’s top foreign currency earner and its biggest employer after farming.
The government in the North African country is striving to diversify tourism away from its Mediterranean coast into southern areas in the hope of luring more high spending holidaymakers from Arab Gulf countries.
What makes a Tunisian?
Tunisian embassy in UK organises lecture on ‘genesis of Tunisian identity’ through history.
Questions of cultural identity and national character always stir heated and interesting debates, and Tunisians – despite belonging to a predominately homogenous society – are not an exception.
In Tunisia, what makes a person Tunisian generates a lively debate that touches on history, culture, race, language, and faith, and it often concludes on agreeing to disagree – most likely peacefully, which is itself a common Tunisian trait.
However, Professor Nejib Ben Lazreg, Archaeologist at the National Heritage Institute in Tunisia, took the debate to London on Thursday in a lecture held at the British Museum, organised by the Tunisian Embassy.
In the lecture, entitled “The Genesis of the Tunisian Identity, a Sequence of Exchanges and Enrichments”, Lazreg argued that the current characteristics of Tunisians are the product of a number of diverse civilisations that ruled or influenced the country throughout history.
Lazreg credited the development of agriculture – introduced under Phoenician rule – to bringing the first signs of stability in Tunisia, which led later to positive long-term effects.
There was a “melting pot”, Lazreg noted, which had been more Berber than Phoenician, adding that Carthage was a very cosmopolitan place that welcomed Greeks, Egyptians and Spaniards who co-existed peacefully together.
But this golden age was barbarically put to an end by the Roman invasion which sought to wipe out the rich heritage of Carthage. The Romans, Lazreg argued, built over the very cities they conquered, but Roman art in Tunisia had been coloured by distinct Berber influence.
Interestingly, according to Lazreg, even the Berbers themselves originally came into North Africa from outside the region.
During the beginning of the Arab Islamic era, Tunisians began forging strong relations with other Muslims of various races and backgrounds, adding a new flavour to their diversity that would last till this day.
But influence is not a one way street: Tunisians from early on brought their own personal contribution, from the locally-inspired square-shaped mosque minarets to Ibn Khaldoun, the “father of sociology”, noted Lazreg.
This era of giving was interrupted during a Spanish invasion of the country (with Italian help), where many Tunisians were severely persecuted, enslaved or forced to convert into Catholicism, until they were rescued by the Ottomans, whom they welcomed.
Lazreg stressed that characteristics like accepting the other or giving women a greater role have always been a part of Tunisian history and are not specific to this day and age, citing a number of influential women from Ellisa (Queen of Carthage) to Fatima al-Fihri and her sister Mariam (who built influential mosques and a university) to Aziza Othmana (who built a hospital).
Lazreg also stressed the Jews enjoyed a privileged place in Tunisia, especially when compared to Europe, despite many attempts by the then colonial power France to stir divisions and hatred between Muslims and non-Muslims in Tunisia, noting that the persecution the Jews had faced in France in certain eras could never even be imagined in Tunisia.
Tunisian Jews, Lazreg added, were very much influenced by the culture of the country, which had left clear marks on Jewish art, dress codes and marriage celebrations.
Lazreg argued that Tunisians today, who are all Arabic-speaking and 99% Sunni Muslims, look to their diverse origins with pride, with some even boasting that their family roots came originally from elsewhere (e.g. the surname Bouchnak is said to be from Bosnia).
And this sense of pride, added Lazreg, has been bolstered by the post-independence governments, reflecting the country’s diverse history in school textbooks, bank notes, and area names, etc.
Wherever you look in Tunisia you find traces of that diverse history: the flag which resembles that of Turkey, the Andalusian fez, the Roman ruins, the blue and white traditionally-coloured buildings which were common in Andalusia and Greece, the Berber fish or palm symbols that were meant to protect people from the “evil eye”, were among the examples cited by Lazreg.
But perhaps most important is a sense of welcoming others that is sometimes based on a (real or perceived) shared history. A history that had its share of – in Lazreg’s words – “difficult moments”, but nevertheless remains predominately leaning to peace.
At the end of the lecture, the new Tunisian Ambassador to the UK, Mr. Hatem Atallah, recalled to the audience an instance when he was as asked “what happened to the Phoenicians?”, to which Atallah’s swift reply was: “you’re looking at one!”
In Tunisia, the debate on identity continues. But while there may never be a clear-cut agreement of what actually constitutes a Tunisian national character, you would almost always know a Tunisian when you meet one. And more often than not, it would be a pleasant encounter.
Promoting UK interests in Tunisia
05 /10/ 2010
Head of the British Diplomatic Service Simon Fraser visits Tunisia
Simon Fraser, the Head of the British Diplomatic Service and Permanent Under-Secretary in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, visited Tunis on 4-5 October 2010.
Mr Fraser is the most senior foreign policy official in the UK Government. While in Tunis, Mr Fraser met senior members of the Tunisian government to develop further the UK-Tunisia bilateral relationship and to discuss commercial and investment opportunities in sectors such as energy, English language teaching, financial services and tourism.
Mr Fraser also met key contacts in the private sector, British investors, tour operators, the British community and journalists.
Promising opportunities to intensify Tunisian-American trade exchanges
TUNIS, Sept. 24, 2010 (TAP) – “Tunisia enjoys an excellent reputation in the United States of America, and it is considered
TUNIS, Sept. 24, 2010 (TAP) – “Tunisia enjoys an excellent reputation in the United States of America, and it is considered among the promising investment destinations in the region, thanks to its political and social stability, and its human resources, as the State has bet on education,” said Mr. David A. Hamod, chairman of the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC), who is on a working visit in Tunisia leading an important delegation of businessmen.
Mr. Hamod pointed out, during a news conference held on Friday, that thanks to the continuous liberalisation of its economy and modernisation of its trade and investment laws, Tunisia is now in a position to attract more American investments.
He announced the commitment of NUSACC, which works with a million small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the US, to boost co-operation with Tunisian SMEs and introduce Tunisia’s investment opportunities in the United States of America.
The American official recalled that, as part of a project with NUSACC, Tunisians who have completed their studies in American universities could be trained in American economic enterprises to acquire professional experience.
For his part, US ambassador Gordon Grey asserted that Tunisia could be a trading bridge linking the US to the Arab Maghreb and Africa.
He specified that several American firms, which have invested in Tunisia, benefit from tax exemptions offered by the State and a skilled manpower, and are making the most of trade relations binding Tunisia to the Arab Maghreb and the European Union.
He made clear that US and Tunisia, which are tied by long- standing and strong trade relations, are called upon to hoist this economic co-operation to higher levels for the benefit of the two friendly peoples’ interest.
He added, in this regard, that he would present during his forthcoming visits to Chicago, New York and Houston, the large investment opportunities provided by Tunisia.
He pointed up that several American companies would take part in the seminar on tax exemptions to be organised next December 2-3, in Tunis. Tunisian-American Chamber of Commerce chairman Nazeh Ben Ammar specified that the volume of trade exchanges between Tunisia and US is still “poor,” highlighting notably the exportation opportunities of Tunisian food-processed products to the American market, in particular the organic olive oil.
He announced that a fair is scheduled for next November 30- December 3 in Manhattan, to introduce products of 12 Tunisian handicrafts firms.
Tunisia to host international conference on solar energy
Tunisia will host from October 29 to 30, the “Solar Tunisia international conference”.
The event is organized by the Institute of Arab business leaders in collaboration with the Ministry of Industry and Technology and the National Advisory Council for Scientific Research and Technology.
The conference program will include presentations of the Tunisian solar plan (TSP), Desertec and the Mediterranean solar plan, as well as an overview of solar energy strategic studies by 2020.
Boston Consulting Group: Tunisia among eight African “Lions”
31 /08/ 2010
Tunisia ranks among the 8 African states, dubbed the “Lions of Africa” , in reference to the Asian tigers and the BRICK countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Korea ) according to a recent report of the “Boston Consulting Group” (BCG) .
Published on July 20, 2010, the report is entitled “The African Challengers: Global Competitors Emerge from the Overlooked Continent”.
In addition to Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Libya, Algeria, South Africa, the group also includes Botswana and Mauritius. The publication notes that in 2008 their GDP per capita of the Lions of Africa averaged 10,000 $, whereas that of the BRICK countries averaged 8,800$.
However, “the development model for both of them rests on similar pillars: political stability, rule of law, property rights, access to capital, public investment in education, health and social services” adds the report.
The eight Lions also represent 70% of the continent’s GDP. Two Tunisian companies also rank among Africa’s 40 biggest, they are Poulina Group and Elloumi Group.
Founded in 1963, the Boston Consulting Group is a global management consulting firm, with 69 offices in 40 countries.
Source: tunisiaonlinenews.com / http://www.bcg.com/documents/file44610.pdf
Survey: Tunisia tops Africa and Arab world in terms of internet connection
According to a survey released on July 27, 2010 by Ookla , a US internet Tunisia tops Africa and the Arab world in terms of internet connection .
These rankings are based on thousands of tests carried out on www.pringtest.net website.
Following tests carried out by Tunisian internet surfers during the last month Tunisia was given the “R Factor 85, 74″ grade.
According to the international telecommunications union standards, this grade is a proof of good conditions for the use of instantaneous services such as audio and video communications.
Internationally, “Ookla” ranks Tunisia 10th out of 60 countries under study , ahead of Switzerland, France, Denmark and even the United States.
This result is also bolstered by the last world rankings regarding browsing speed by country.
This report also moved Tunisia up 5 ranks since last month, from 92th to 87th.
This performance enabled Tunisia to maintain its first rank in the Maghreb and move up to the 4th rank in the Arab world, behind Saudi Arabia , Qatar and Kuwait.
Tunisia, a successful model still little known
06 /08/ 2010
British business needs to know more about the North African country in order to take advantage of the trading and investor opportunities in the market.
H E Oussama Romdhani, Tunisia’s Minister of Communication, has outlined the successes of his country in creating a modern society and dynamic economy which offers a role model for developing nations worldwide.
The minister was in London to take part in a seminar at Chatham House, hosted by the leading think tank the Royal Institute of International Affairs and chaired by the Head of its Middle East and North Africa Programme, Dr Claire Spencer.
Mr Romdhani, who was appointed to his current post in January 2010, was formerly the general director of the Tunisian External Communication Agency, the government body responsible for media regulation.
Introducing the guest speaker to an audience of invited diplomats, journalists, international relations experts and business executives, Dr Spencer stated that the event marked the first time that Chatham House had held such a meeting on Tunisia.
Addressing the question, Is Tunisia Well Understood? Mr Romdhani was keen to stress the importance of understanding the background to the country’s progress since the adoption of the “Change” programme under the leadership of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.
Confronting the achievements and challenges facing the country as it continued its development, the minister stated that the path of modernisation that had been embarked on by Tunisia in the 1980s was still a “work in progress” and as such was still an unfinished journey.
He felt that its experiences provided a model for how other developing countries could achieve successful progress in development and modernisation.
The real progress that had been achieved in the intervening years had demonstrated that Tunisia had taken the right course of action by laying down solid foundations for a comprehensive economic and social development and the construction of a stable, balanced, pluralistic and democratic society.
A feature that has marked out the country’s progress, and which makes its achievements all the more remarkable, has been its limited natural resources, in particular its lack of enormous oil and gas wealth to draw upon.
Despite the inevitable challenges posed by this situation, Tunisia had nevertheless been able to achieve an average growth rate of 5% over the past two decades, the minister said, which was a testimony to its success in seeking to capitalise on its human resources, which he described as the nation’s true wealth.
This had been achieved by continuously investing in its educational system, the creation of jobs and the broadening of opportunities for women and youth to enable them to fully participate in business, commerce and public life.
Mr Romdhani reviewed Tunisia’s progress across a broad spectrum of areas, including the social, economic and political, citing a wealth of indicators as supporting evidence.
Tunisian society was now overwhelmingly “middle class” in terms of the living standards enjoyed by the people, the equitable share of amenities, resources and social attitudes. In fact, the country’s middle class had been successfully expanded over a short period and was today generally estimated to represent about 80% of the total population, the minister said.
Home ownership stood at 80%, while 97% of homes now took for granted the benefits of basic amenities such as electricity and drinking water.
Meanwhile, the drive to develop the educational system had achieved a school attendance rate for both male and females of more than 99%.
Explaining the rationale for making substantial public investments in human resources, the minister stated that the aim was to stimulate people’s ambitions to pursue careers and to develop their skills to help them to become productive members of society; although this then presented a challenge in the need to create sufficient job opportunities.
Education was regarded by Tunisia as a vital engine of social progress; public education was accessible to all irrespective of income as it was free at all levels. The number of students attending the country’s colleges of further education and universities was 360 thousand but by 2017 this number was expected to rise to 450 thousand.
Tunisian students were increasingly encouraged to study subjects such as science and engineering because these led to the acquisition of practical skills that were invaluable to securing economic growth and future prosperity.
As a relatively small country, Tunisia had a present population that stood at 10.4 million, but on current demographic trends this was predicted to rise to 11.6 mllion by 2019.
An ageing population is a sign of a country’s success in development and Tunisia was no exception in this regard.
But as the number of people living longer increased, it was faced with increasing pressures on its healthcare services and provision of pensions. The number over the age of 60 was today 10%, but this was expected to rise to 25% by 2039.
The economic and financial policies that Tunisia has pursued have shown their effectiveness in achieving stability over the years and have proven their worth in the recent period by effectively shielding the country from the fallout of the global economic and financial downturn which has led to a decline in foreign investment.
Part of Tunisia’s strength was derived from its strong sense of national identity as a modern and tolerant society which was a significant achievement of its recent policies, the minister indicated.
It practised a moderate form of Islam as the majority religion although all faiths were equally respected in the country; mosques as well as institutions of other religions received public funds and were well supported.
While the Tunisian variant of Arabic was the mother tongue of choice for the majority of the country’s young people and French remained the second language, there was an increasing attraction to English and English courses were in great demand.
One of Tunisia’s most notable successes had been the advances seen in the participation of women at all levels in its society and economy. Women were unencumbered by traditional obstacles to their career development and now aspired to the highest levels in all areas of public and professional life. Some 61% of graduates from higher education were women and the trend was upwards, the minister said.
Gender equality was now widely accepted across Tunisian society and, according to a survey of social attitudes, some 63% of women preferred to pursue their careers rather than marrying at an early age, the minister stated.
Looking towards the future, Mr Romdhani said Tunisia possessed stability and strong fundamentals and was building on its sound policies with a new objective of achieving growth of 5.5% through to 2014.
Its new economic model was giving focus to investing in and developing high value sectors based on advanced technologies to ensure greater prospects for employment and to boost the country’s exports.
In acting to facilitate trade, Tunisia was dismantling tariffs by entering into advanced status with the European Union and pursuing free trade agreements with countries in Africa, Asia and America.
At the same time, the country was showing a determination to pursue an environmentally friendly strategy designed to protect its natural assets, which were important in themselves but which were also vital assets to attract tourists.
One aspect of Tunisia that was not well known abroad, the minister stated, was that it possessed a dynamic civil society with the participation of more than 9,000 active associations of lawyers, journalists and other professional groups.
The country functioned as a multi-party democracy with a ruling party that was one of the oldest political parties in the world having been founded in 1919. This party currently had a membership in excess of two million with women comprising over 30%. Reflecting this reality, the party typically fielded a large number of women candidates in elections, in fact no less than 30%.
The rise in the number of women parliamentarians in Tunisia is also noteworthy; the number had risen significantly from a mere 4.3% in 1989 to upwards of 25% in 2009, the minister said.
Turning to the place of the media in Tunisian society, here the private sector had been growing over the past decade with the first private radio station launched in 2003, followed by the first private television channel in 2005 and the launch of digital TV in 2010.
Tunisia was confronting the challenges posed by the modern global communications system and had adopted ambitious plans to enable its people to enjoy wider access to sources of information.
Tunisia was a country that was actively engaging with the outside world; it was welcoming to individual visitors who enjoyed its rich heritage and civilisation, while it was closely cooperating with investors and business partners whose involvement in the economy was recognised as a vital guarantee for the country’s future progress and prosperity.
In conclusion, Tunisia was looking to the future with optimism, realism and confidence as it geared up to meet the emerging challenges together with its friends and partners, Oussama Romdhani, stated.
The minister hoped that the positive message that he delivered on behalf of his country would be warmly received and acted upon by the business community and decision makers in the UK.
Source : globalarabnetwork.com
First phase of Tunis Financial Harbour to start December 2010
4 /08/ 2010
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Tunis Financial Harbour Project and Board Chairman of the “Gulf Finance House” Issam Youssef El Janahi announced that the first phase of this project will commence in December 2010.
On the occasion of his visit to Tunisia as part of monitoring the implementation of that project, Mr. El Janahi pointed out, during a press conference held on Wednesday in Gammarth (northern suburb of Tunis), that the detailed development plan will be presented next September in order to obtain the State’s approval.
Tenders will, then, be prepared to choose the company which will ensure the achievement of the first phase of the project that stretches over 200 hectares and the name of this company will be announced next December.
Mr. El Janahi reminded that the Tunis Financial Harbour Project Company has signed an agreement worth 14 million dinars with the Tunisian Computer Engineering Company (STUDI), tasked with preparing infrastructure models of the entire project and another 10-million-dinar contract with multi-disciplinary consultant “SCET Tunisia” for the management of the project’s infrastructure.
He stressed his commitment to achieving the Tunis Financial Harbour, specifying that the Gulf Finance House (GFH) Group has created an investment fund to which contributes several investors, in addition to GFH, to achieve this project.
All components of the project, whose total cost is between 4 and 5 billion dollars, will be completed on several stages and priority will be given during their implementation to Tunisian companies and workforce, he underlined.
Mr. El Janahi said the Tunis Financial Harbour will help attract foreign investors to Tunisia and make the country a pole of financial services in North Africa.
He had, earlier, visited the project site which stretches over 523 hectares and is located at El Hasiane, delegation of Kalaat El Andalous (Governorate of Ariana).
The Tunis Financial Harbour will host a banking investment centre, a corporate centre, an insurance centre “Takaful” and an international school of business.
Tunisair launches new Djerba –London service
29/ 05 / 2010
A direct Djerba-London air-link opened on Friday with the first plane-landing at the Djerba airport, with 90 passengers onboard, including journalists, diplomats and tour operators’ representatives.
The new service , which is part of the promotion strategy jointly adopted by the Tourism Ministry and Tunisia’s flagship carrier “Tunisair”, will ensure two regular flights a week (on Monday and Thursday), so as to further attract British tourists to Tunisia and promote Tunisian tourism on the English market in general.
An agenda was worked out to ensure the British guests, a good stay in Djerba Island, so as to help them better know Tunisia’s tourist potentialities, especially the Southern region’s tourist specificities.
Tunisia attracts each year more than 300,000 British visitors. According to the tour operator ‘travelsupermarket’, Tunisia ranks as one among the best 10 destinations preferred by British tourists.
Following Tunisia’s signing in 2008 of the Open sky agreement, British low -cost airlines such as Ryanair and Thompson fly Easy Jet and Jet 2 are able to operate direct flights from London to Tunisian airports.
Source : tunisiaonlinenews.com
Tunisia, Vietnam committed to boost economic ties
13 /04/ 2010
Tunisia and Vietnam which set up diplomatic relations in 1972, share a strong trade potential especially in the sectors of oil exploration, tourism and agriculture. With a trade volume of nearly16 million dollars in 2009, (10 million dollars in 2000), Tunisia and Vietnam, are committed to boost economic ties and explore fresh avenues of economic cooperation.
During a Tunisian- Vietnamese Business Forum held on Monday at the headquarters of the Tunisian Industry, Commerce and Handicrafts Union(UTICA), delegations of both countries took stock of bilateral trade relations and looked at possibilities of further boosting cooperation especially in the energy and mining sector .
A Vietnamese delegation led by President Nguyen Minh Triet, currently on an official visit to Tunisia from April 12 to 13, 2010, as well as 50 businessmen operating in the sectors of agribusiness, building and public works, energy, ICT, financial services and banking, furniture, textiles and clothing, transportation, leather and footwear, chemicals, fertilizers, chemicals, automotive, pharmaceutical, and tourism, are taking part in the forum.
On this occasion, the Vietnamese President stressed that his country endeavors to reach a growth rate of 7 to 8% by 2016.
Tunisia was among the first countries to establish diplomatic relations with Vietnam he noted, stressing the similarities between the two countries’ social models especially in the fight against poverty. Vietnam, he added, “wants to present itself as a reliable partner to all countries around the world”.
Mr. Triet said that the two countries are “peace loving” and are committed to boost growth and to cooperate for their development, while stressing the commitment of Tunisia and Vietnam to raise their relations to higher levels.
Mr. Hedi Jilani, President of UTICA said that “the meeting was an opportunity to give new impetus to economic relations between Tunisia and Vietnam, adding that current economic exchanges between the two countries in relation to potential existing, are still “very modest”.
On his part, Mr. Vu Tien Loc, the Chairman of the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry said that Tunisia “is a bridge to the European Union, the Arab Maghreb and Africa” adding that “Vietnam, as an emerging country is a gateway to Asia”.
Phosphate is the main Tunisian product exported to the Vietnamese market, but it remains dependent on the international situation.
Between 2000 and 2008, Tunisia also exported chemicals, meat and edible offal, importingcoffee, spices and footwear .
Insofar as investment is concerned, they are mostly confined to the energy sector. In this sense, the Vietnamese company “Petrovietnam” and the Tunisian company of oil activities (ETAP) signed on February 19, 2008, an oil exploration contract in the regions of Guellala (Djerba) and Tanit.
Major Vietnamese companies such as “VINACOMIN” (mining sector), “SATRA” (international trade), and “VINACOMEX” (building and import and export) took part in the meeting.
Tunisia to host 2nd Maghribi Businessmen Forum
6 /04/ 2010
Tunisia will host, from May 10 to 11, 2010, the 2nd Maghribi Businessmen Forum. The event will bring together 1000 heads of enterprises, officials as well as Maghreb officials.
Under the patronage of President Ben Ali, the forum will be organized by the Maghreb Union of Employers (UME) in collaboration with the Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts Union (UTICA) and the Lebanese Al Iktissad Wal Aamal Group.
Under the motto, “for a Maghribi company” , the forum will be an opportunity to showcase the “common challenges of Maghribi companies” in a context of globalization and the role of banking sector in the performance of the company.
During a news conference, UTICA’s President, Mr. Hedi Jilani said that the forum aims at strengthening a Maghribi complementarity and achieving a Maghribi economic Union, since it offers an opportunity to discuss the concerns of Maghribi businessmen and the requirements of economic enterprise as well as the promotion of its environment so as to cope with foreign competition.
Participants will also discuss the obstacles and prospects of “federal projects” and Maghrebi success stories.
Participants will also focus on the need to boost partnerships and reinforce inter-Maghribi trade relations.
Other events, B2B meetings, workshops and an exposition dedicated to sponsors, will also be held.
“Africa Cards 2010″, to bolster banking cards market in Africa
The 5th Forum of Banking Card Technologies in Africa (Africa Cards 2010), opened on Thursday in Tunis. The event focused on the late achievements and opportunities for expanding means of demonetized payment, particularly mobile payment.
Tunisian, Maghreb and African experts are taking part in the event.
Commercial and strategic stakes resulting from the considerable development of e-banking activities were discussed during the event.
Mr. Taoufik Baccar, Governor of the Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT) said that promotion of e-banking is a challenge for the African economies, which are expected to develop, modernize and guarantee the safety of their electronic payment systems to enhance the confidence of different stakeholders in these means of payment.
Mr. Baccar also stressed the importance of the Tunisian approach on improving the legislative environment governing electronic transactions, ensuring their safety as well as generalizing the use of e-banking.
In Tunisia, the number of banking cards rose from 900,000 by late 2004 to over 2 millions in 2009. The number of operations carried out by these cards reached over 36 millions in 2009, while the volume of transactions carried out, reached 3.6 billion dinars, compared with 1.3 billion dinars in 2004.
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Tunisian-Italian business days in textile and clothing sector
Due to its high added value namely in exports,the textile and clothing sector represents 37% of the Tunisian industry and contributes to 36% of exports and manufacturing industries.
Organized jointly by the Tunisian Export Promotion Center “CEPEX”, the Milan Chamber of Commerce of and Florence Confindustria ,two Tunisian-Italian business contact days in the textiles and clothing sector, were held on March 30, 2010 at the Milan Chamber of Commerce.
Some 20 Tunisian companies representing namely the stitch, ready-to-wear, jeans and sportswear, lingerie and swimwear segments took part in the event.
More than 70 Italian operators in the sector have enabled some 450 business contacts, which was a good opportunity for the strengthening of Tunisian exports of textiles and clothing, on the Italian market.
Major Italian retail chains also took part in the event including, “Miroglio Pompeo”, “Conte of Florence”, “Gruppo Intimo”, and “Camicia Reale”. This event was also an opportunity to promote the TEXMED TUNISIA exhibition to be held in Tunis from June 16 to 18, 2010
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Tunisia hosts 4th regional meeting of “MENA-OECD” working group
Organized by the Ministry of Development and International Cooperation and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD),Tunisia hosted from March 29 to 30, the 4th regional meeting of the “MENA-OECD” Program’s working group on Tuesday on “small and medium enterprises (SMEs) policy, entrepreneurship and human capital development”.
Tunisian and foreign experts and officials took part in this meeting.
The working group aims at establishing a joint framework for political dialogue and discussion of means to improve business environment and share good practices, reinforce capacities for entrepreneurship, SMEs’ development and growth.
Activities proposed aim at encouraging high-growth enterprises, improving SMEs’ access to financing, favor women’s entrepreneurship and making up for the skills deficit by developing human capital.
The Minister of Development and International Cooperation, Mr. Mohamed Nouri Jouini stressed the need to invest in human capital and technologies, emphasizing the importance of boosting exchanges in all sectors (industry, trade, services and expertise)
He added that the MENA region is not sufficiently integrated, and thus requires stronger political commitment and will to carry on the opening-up process on foreign countries.
The MENA-OECD initiative on governance and investment to support development was launched in 2004 at the initiative of MENA region countries , including Tunisia, Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, the Sultanate of Oman, the Palestinian Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
The Initiative strengthens MENA countries’ capacity to design and implement policy reforms as well as facilitating policy dialogue and sharing of experience on public governance and investment policies among policy makers from MENA countries and their OECD counterparts.
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Tunisia and EU sign MOU
During a work visit to Tunisia, Mr. Stefan Fule, the Commissioner in charge of Enlargement and European Neighborhood Policy met with Mr. Nouri Jouini on Tuesday during which a National Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Tunisia and the European Union was signed.
The program which involves a budget of 240 million Euros (450 million dinars) for the technical and financial cooperation between Tunisia and the European Union covers a number of strategic sectors, including employment, higher education graduates, as well as economic integration and competitiveness.
Following the signing of the MOU, Mr. Jouini reiterated Tunisia’s commitment to expand its cooperation with the EU, as well as the necessity to take advantage of existing opportunities particularly in scientific research, technological innovation, culture, youth , trade and investment.
On his part, Mr. Stefan Fule reiterated the EU’s support for Tunisia.
He also said his visit is an opportunity to learn about future programs developed by Tunisia.
Mr. Stefan Fule expressed his appreciation of the Tunisian developmental experience which is “an example of success in economic and social progress”, said Mr. Fule.
He also expressed his willingness to further continue development programs and projects implemented by Tunisia.
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Tunisia will host “MondialEXPO 2010”
From April 29 to 30, 2010, Tunisia will play host to the 2010 edition of the business networks Forum “MondialEXPO 2010” which is held on the theme: “Business meetings between European, Maghrebi and Mediterranean countries” (“Rencontres d’affaires entre les principaux acteurs de l’espace Européen Maghrébin Méditerranée” ).
Organized under the aegis of the Ministry of Communication Technologies, and the Ministry of Commerce and Handicrafts and with the partnership of the Ministry of Higher Education’s , the Forum will highlight Algeria as the guest of honor of its 2010 edition.
“Mondialexpo2010” will also host the first online business network in Europe and the Maghreb, “Viadeo”.
The leader in online professional community communication in Europe and in the Maghreb “Viadeo” will give an exclusive conference on business networks.
Other conferences on industry, infrastructure, energy, logistics, ICT, environment, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, electronics, aerospace, chemicals, food processing, textiles, and real estate services are on the menu.
This forum is an opportunity to promote economic partnership between European, North African and Mediterranean countries.
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Portugal is Tunisia’s 4th FDI provider
Portuguese investments in Tunisia have evolved to reach 809.4 million dinars in 2009, boosting Portugal’s position as the 4th provider of foreign direct investments (FDI) in Tunisia. This is one of the main conclusions to be drawn by the High level Tunisian –Portuguese meeting which was held on Tuesday in Tunis.
The second Tunisian-Portuguese high-level meeting which was respectively chaired by the two Prime Ministers Mr. Mohamed Ghannouchi and Portugal’s Prime Minister, Mr. Jose Socrates, engendered a series of agreements signed between both countries.
This meeting is part of the implementation of the Treaty of friendship, good neighborliness and cooperation, signed June 17, 2003 and which “sealed the excellent relations linking Tunisia and Portugal”, said Mr. Ghannouchi.
The work led to twinning agreement between the Goulette-Radès Port, the Merchant Navy and Ports Board and the Lisbon Port Service, as well as several other programs including an executive cooperation program in cultural, scientific and technical sectors, a cooperation agreement in the field of archives, a MOU between Tunisia’s Central Bank and Banco de Portugal, endorsement to the financing agreement which provides for granting a 100 million euro-credit line, cooperation agreement in tourism sector, an economic cooperation agreement and a protocol on cooperation in higher education and scientific research.
Ways to further consolidate the Tunisian-Portuguese cooperation, in the sector of tourism led to the signing a new agreement on tourism cooperation, which supersedes that of May 11, 1992, promoting essentially the exchange of expertise in the hotel sector, improving service quality, standardization, certification and labeling schemes, besides the exchange of trainers and experts according to a schedule set in 2010.
This agreement will give new impetus to the Portuguese-Tunisian partnership and contribute to achieving the desired objectives in this sector, said the Tunisian Minister of Tourism, Mr. Slim Tlatli at the closing of the Tunisian and Portuguese Joint Committee.
Regarding the financial sector, Mr. Moncef Bouden, the Secretary of State in charge of Taxation and Mr. Emanuel Dos Santos, deputy secretary of state in the Portuguese Minister for Finance, Budget, stressed the importance of taking benefit of cooperation agreements and the potential offered by Tunisia with its strategic position, which is likely to be a gateway between the Mediterranean and Africa, he added in a statement to the official Tunisian Press Agency, TAP.
The Tunisian Prime Minister stressed that these agreements are able to promote partnership in innovative sectors. He also stresses that the Tunisian-Portuguese relations have steadily developed, since President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s visit in Portugal in February 1993 and May 2000 and those carried out in Tunisia by the Portuguese Presidents Mr. Mario Soares and Mr.Jorge Sampaio, respectively in March 1995 and in February 2002.
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Promotional campaign to showcase Tunisian industrial strategy in the Netherlands
A seminar destined to make better known Tunisia’s industrial strategy followed by an exhibition of various Tunisian products marked a multi-sector economic event recently organized in “Almere” city, in the in Netherlands
The event is jointly organized by the Tunisian Embassy in The Hague, the Tunisian economic representatives in the Netherlands (FIPA Brussels, CEPEX Rotterdam, ONTT Brussels, Amsterdam and Tunisair) and the World Trade Center in Almere.
The event coincides with an awareness campaign of economic institutions managers and foreign business concerning opportunities offered by Tunisia, including its industrial strategy for 2016.
The potential and advantages offered by Tunisia to foreign investors, particularly in the context of the national industrial strategy by 2016, were also reviewed during the seminar.
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Tunisia ,Gafsa: 40 million Euro French credit line earmarked for small and medium companies
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of the Southwest and the Tunisian-French Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized on Thursday in the governorate Gafsa an inter-regional Information Day. The event focused on a 40 million Euro French credit line for 2010 which is destined to support Tunisian small and medium enterprises and boost their competitiveness as well as their exporting capacity.
Businessmen, companies’ directors manager as well as junior promoters from the regions of Tozeur, Kasserine, Sidi Bouzid and Gafsa took part in the event.
Mr. Bertrand Furno, Head of the Regional Economic Department at the French Embassy in Tunis said that: “Tunisia is among the 25 major economic partners of France in the world”, he added that that 30% of Tunisian exports land on the French market and that 1200 French companies are settled in Tunisia.
The role of the French Agency for International Development of Enterprises (UBIFRANCE) in strengthening both countries cooperation, Tunisian and French investors as well as ways to help Tunisian companies to identify service-providers in France under focus during the event which also looked at ways to boost the contribution of the Competitiveness Centre in Gafsa to attract local and foreign investors.
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