A few kilometers from the Italian southern coast we find one of Italy’s main partners: Tunisia.
The two countries share a long history of cultural and economic exchanges, made possible by geographical proximity. This has brought to a gradual development of the Italian presence in the country. Today, more than 900 italian companies are present in Tunisia. These companies employ 70,000 workers in the textile, electrical, electronic, mechanical, agri-food and footwear industries, as Abdelbasset Ghanmi, Director General of FIPA, the Tunisian Agency for the Promotion of Foreign Investment, told Italian online magazine Africa e Affari.
In addition to a considerable Italian presence, Mr. Ghanmi underlined how the country “today also represents a hub towards other European markets, towards the Middle East and towards African markets”. According to Mr. Ghanmi, much of the merit goes to Comesa, the Common Market of East and Southern Africa, and to the implementation of the Continental Free Trade Area, which makes Tunisia “a privileged place for Italian companies seeking to expand operations to the rest of the African continent”.
FIPA and the Embassy of Tunisia in Rome, in collaboration with Promos Italia, the National Agency of the Italian Chambers of Commerce network, and CTICI, the Italian-Tunisian Chamber of Commerce recently organized an event entitled “Tunisia: a gateway to Africa”. The event was held on December 9 in Milan.
Attended by institutions and investors, the event aimed to promote the north african country as an attractive destination for foreign investment, highlighting the many opportunities for collaboration between the two countries.
“Since October 11 we have a new technocratic government with a woman as prime minister, who is working to heal the economic situation after ten years and fighting against corruption. Now it is the right time to go to Tunisia, to deepen relations and take advantage of the strategic position of the country” explained Ambassador Moez Sinaoui.
The advantages that make Tunisia an attractive destination for investment are its democratic transition after the Arab Spring in 2011, a liberal economy, highly skilled workers and openness to foreign investors, who enjoy the same rights as local investors.
Italy is in fact one of the largest investors in Tunisia, second only to France. As Alan Christian Rizzi, Undersecretary for External Relation of Italy’s Lombardy Region, pointed out: “support for Italian entrepreneurs who want to invest in Tunisia is also guaranteed by Italian institutions, including Lombardy”.
According to Africa e Affari, “bilateral trade reached €1.2 billion in 2019, a number that has suffered a physiological decline in 2020 due to the covid pandemic. During the first half of 2021, trade reached a total value of €500 million, marking a recovery”.
Building a win-win partnership and offering the necessary support to businesses must therefore be the main objectives of Italy and Tunisia in order to strengthen their bilateral relations, which play a fundamental role for the development of both Europe and Africa.