The President at the Tunisia Investment Forum

Despite the curfew in place, the President attended the “Tunisia Investment Forum” in Tunis on 14 and 15 June.  You will find the program here :

Here are the profiles of the speakers :

As you will notice from the picture here below, the auditorium was brimming with interested potential investors, instutional and private stakeholders, with the presentations given in English, French and one in Arabic.

Going back through my tweets @ecwas, here are the main points :

In the first roundtable, moderated by Mohamed MALOUCHE, President of the Young Tunisian American Professionals (YTAP), one of the key issues of this discussion and of great interest to potential and future investors is  corruption, which will get worse before it gets better in this post-conflict/revolution country. Mr Samir ANNABI, who is President of the National Agency against corruption said “we have the firm intention of getting involved in every level of corruption…and conduct a clean business from the entry to exit”. 

Mathilde MESNARD,Adivsor to the Secretary General and Coordinator of “CleanGovBiz”, the OCDE’s anti-corruption and integrity initiative, suggested doing an “integrity scan” to fight corruption in Tunisia.

Mr Houcine DIMASSI, Tunisian Finance Minister, gave a historical perspective of fiscal policy in Tunisia, with the law voted in1972 and the Investment code of 1993, which today placed Tunisia in 7th place in North Africa.  He also added that Tunisia is “trying to clean up the situation, but we can not import a new State apparatus”.  He also spoke of the 70% of education rate; but added that “education needed to be reformed to correspond to today’s needs.”

Thierry COURTAIGNE, Director General of MEDEF International said that “the Directors of companies and the investors are the main “assets of Tunisia.”   He also underlined that the MEDEF had 1300 projects in Tunisia, but the key to success in Tunisia was to get information out, have confidence, communicate “create a buzz, giving priority to financing,” It is important to “create clusters in Tunisia : why do jobs leave France for India when Tunisia is only 2h away?”

In the second roundtable, Taoufik MJAIED, Executive Producer of France24 Arabic, led the discussions, which are highlighted here below :

Adrianus Koestsenruijter, head of the EU Delegation in Tunis said that it was necessary to support the politics and work with the realities in place.

Michèle SABBAN, President of the Assembly of the Regions of Europe said “les femmes sont l’avenir de l’homme et ont un rôle à jouer”.  As Vice-President of the Ile-de-France region, it is important to train the trainers in key areas, such is in water management.  There is a lack of certification programs (programmes non diplomants).  She also said that Tunisians entrepreneurs should export their expertise.

Hichem JOUABER, Director of Supply Chain and production systmes at Valéo used a PowerPoint to demonstrate his point on the criteria for investors investing in Tunisia : proximity, confidence/trust, infrastructure, personnel, sourcing and incentives. He also spoke of the “Fosbury Flop” : how to do things differently; and cited the example of Korea and Morocco (Renault recently set up a $1B factory there). “Tunisia needs a locomotive, a laserbeam… a value-based strategy qui fixe la strategie au territorie national”.  Tunisia needs to create economic regions that give each one access to the sea.

Barbara NJAU of the Financial Times said that Tunisia needs FDI Intelligence and robust FDI investment, although ranking only 6th in Africa, with Johannesburg ranking 1st.  Tunisia has very promising, attractive coastal regions, but has difficulty attracting (investment) to the regions”.

There were over 300 participants at this conference that the FIPA (Foreign Investment Promotion Agency : organized with several big sponsors (, such as BG Tunisia, which, for example employs a workforce composed of 90% Tunisians.

I can only encourage you to go to Tunisia, where a new constitution is being written, where the Tunisians are engaging in a political dialogue, learning about politics, political parties and political expression. Following the incident at the 10th Art Exhibition at La Marsa, a curfew was in place during my visit and the police were out in force, which was rather reassuring to my Tunisian friends. This means that the government is ensuring the security of its inhabitants and that the security apparatus is functioning.

Thus, Tunisians and foreigners, be they visitors, businessmen or tourists, should be assured of their safety and should not be dissuaded to visit Tunisia this Summer for business or pleasure.

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