Tunisia and the European Union

Tunisia’s freedoms may be buckling down as the country clamps down to deal with an economy already teetering on the edge of insolvency with a growth slowing sharply in this year’s second quarter. The country’s economy, that slowed last June after the attacks got boosted by agro-industrial sectors successes such as Olive oil and Renewable energy achievements.

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All for Olive Oil export & Renewable Energy in Tunisia : EU .

Olive branch

Tunisia, the cradle of the so-called Arab Spring, was the only MENA’s ‘Arab Country in Transition’ (ACT) to emerge with a democracy marked by increased freedoms and regular elections.

Tunisia’s fledgling democracy has been cited as the hope for the MENA region in which the democratic promises of the Arab Spring have largely collapsed into chaos and / or in difficult situations.  Tunisia’s freedoms may however be buckling as the country clamps down to deal with terror attacks threatening an economy already teetering on the edge of insolvency with a growth slowing sharply in the second quarter to 0.7% year-on-year.

The economy having expanded 1.7% in the previous quarter compared to the same period a year earlier, Tunisia’s tourism industry, which makes up about 7% of the economy, slowed in June after a the attacks.

This year though, Tunisia experienced an exceptional olive oil season and the European Union, its main market, has granted its operators certain facilitations to “maximize their olive oil exports all exempt of customs duties to the EU, and thus enjoy a great season”, according to a document from the EU.

Olive oil export earnings exceed $9.24 bn for the entire season 2014/2015, according to a forecast of the Tunisian Olive Oil Council, reported by a release of the Ministry of Industry, Energy and Mines.

Meanwhile, Germany, which takes special interest in clean energy, “welcomes the strategy adopted by Tunisia to promote renewable energy and plans to develop its partnership with the country in that field,” said at a meeting with the press Tuesday at the Germany Embassy in Tunis a German parliamentary state secretary who also pointed out that a pilot project is being carried out as part of Tunisian-German co-operation in the energy field.

It consists of the installation of a photovoltaic plant with a capacity of 10 MW in the region of Tozeur (south of Tunisia).  It will be the largest in Tunisia and North Africa.

The German diplomat stated also that Germany’s willingness to encourage its companies to invest more in Tunisia in all sectors, including training and regional development.

“We believe that Tunisia has now an environment conducive to investment and well-trained youth. The country is for Germany and Europe in general a site with great potential, therefore we want our companies to come and invest in it and also create jobs for young people,” he added.

For the time being, more than 150 German companies or joint ventures are present in Tunisia employing nearly 55,000 people, in various sectors of clothing, footwear and electro-mechanical industries.   Financial and technical co-operation with Germany has grown steadily in volume and in areas of intervention with aid packages granted increasing from €44 million in 2009 to €145 million in 2014.Berber-village-in-Tunisia

The areas of intervention of this aid are essentially environment, water, renewable energy, decentralisation, employment, water desalination, education and regional development.

 

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