• Tunisia : An assessment of Emmanuel Macron’s recent visit

Tunisia : An assessment of Emmanuel Macron’s recent visit

French President Emmanuel Macron – visited Tunisia as part of a state visit under the banner of economic development.

Mohamed Abdellaoui in Tunis

Emmanuel Macron’s recent state visit to Tunisia last week led to the signing of eight cooperation agreements. These include the agreements on the fight against terrorism as well as a joint initiative to support young Tunisian entrepreneurs. These agreements also provide for the creation of a Franco-Tunisian university for Africa and the Mediterranean (IFTAM). Another topic was discussed: the Tunisian debt. Tunis obtained a readjustment of the terms. Its amount is estimated at 30 million euros, according to the Tunisian authorities. Finally, Paris and Tunis announced the signing of a convention to finance the reform of governance of Tunisian public institutions.

Beautiful promises

Speaking at the closing of the 1st edition of the Tunisia-France Economic Forum on the theme:”Success together today and tomorrow, ” Emmanuel Macron affirmed, «we can put in place , from this year onwards, a €50 million emergency plan to speed up entrepreneurial projects, ” before adding that «this will enable young people to gain access to the French market and benefit from financial support.”

According to Emmanuel Macron, co-location is an axis of the new configuration of the bilateral partnership. «What is at stake here is essential not only for Tunisia but also for the entire region », told the French President, insisting on the development of the Francophonie and entrepreneurship.

In the same vein, the French President called on Tunisians themselves to develop project ideas that France would later support. These initiatives should increase economic relations between these two countries.

The total value of trade between the two countries reached 18 billion dinars in 2017, almost 6 billion euros according to the Tunisian Ministry of Commerce. Tunisian exports to France increased by 12.9%. While Tunisian imports from France increased by 16.4% at the end of the same year compared to 2016, according to the Tunisian Ministry of Commerce.

The country of Charles de Gaulle is also the leading investor, excluding the energy sector, in terms of both the number of companies created and the amount of investments made. Moreover, in 2017,1403 French companies operating in Tunisia enabled the creation of more than 135,000 jobs, according to the local authorities. These companies operate in sectors such as textiles, mechanical engineering, food processing, plastics and tourism.

An economic partnership below expectations

However, the nature of French investments in Tunisia does not in any way help the Tunisian economy to escape the slump. In addition, several voices were raised during the French head of state’s visit to the country, calling for qualitative investments from the former metropolis to help the country of the Jasmine Revolution to recover economically. For these dissatisfied Tunisians, the rules governing the economic partnership between Tunisia and France highlight above all the inequity and prevalence of French interests. As a result, policy and legislative frameworks relegate Tunisia’s interests to the second degree, in the best of cases. Some Tunisian economists believe that these business executives do not take enough account of the specific needs of the population. They also denounce France’s economic dominance in the most prolific productive sectors.

Mohamed Abdellaoui à Tunis
Crédit photo : macron avec beji caid essebsi

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