By Houda Trabelsi
“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.