Algeria steps up trade with Tunisia   Leave a comment

13/06/2011 : Algeria and Tunisia are boosting economic co-operation, to the benefit of both countries’ economies.

A large number of Tunisian businesses took part in the six-day 44th International Fair of Algiers (FIA), which wrapped up on Monday (June 6th).

The annual expo draws hundreds of Arab, African and European manufacturers in textile, printing, construction, steel and other industries.

Tunisian businessman El Khoumri El Hadi stressed in a statement to APS that his involvement in the FIA had enabled him to improve his business relations with his Algerian counterparts and to exhibit the agribusiness products from his factory.

“It was when I first attended in 2005 that I met my first Algerian customers, who have since become real partners and friends,” El Hadi said.

The Algerian National Agency for the Promotion of Foreign Trade (ALGEX) and CEPEX (the Tunisian Centre for the Promotion of Exports) signed a co-operation agreement on June 5th.

The decision to amend the agreements was the result of discussions between the Algerian Trade Minister Mustapha Benbada and his Tunisian counterpart Mehdi Houas on May 26th. Benbada promised that the revisions to the agreements in question would “breathe new life” into trade between the two countries. Negotiations on the details began May 29th, when Houas came to Algiers to negotiate revisions to the preferential partnership agreement between the two countries.

Houas announced on May 30th that the changes were complete, and that they were “more favourable” than those between Tunisia and the European Union (EU).

It is hoped that trade between the two countries will reach the $1 billion mark. Currently, trade is at $700 million, up from 200 million in 2001. At the end of Interim Tunisian Prime Minister Béji Caid Essebsi’s visit to Algeria, it was announced that Algeria would donate $100 million to Tunisia “to help it through the transitional phase”.

In addition to that financial assistance, Algeria also made available an interest-free loan of $50 million, and another $40 million loan at 1% interest, repayable over 15 years, with a five-year grace period. The show of solidarity has, according to the Tunisian official, helped “to establish even closer ties with Algeria”.

Tunisia’s economy has struggled recently. Forecasts for growth in the current year were reduced from 5.5% to 1.5%. Houas said that due to persistent instability Tunisia’s economy has lost $4 billion in recent months. Meanwhile, tourism has decreased by 40%, compounding Tunisia’s unemployment problem.

The two ministers also talked about smuggling, which has increased in light of the region’s poor growth and security. In this regard, Benbada said on May 26th that it “intended to step up border checks”.

Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia referred to smuggling in a press conference on May 30th, stating that “the Algerian government has received requests from Libyan operators to buy food and medicines”; the response was “positive”, but Algeria has requested UN help to ensure that only basic commodities leave the country and that they are sold to legitimate buyers.

Abed Salim, an economist and professor at the University of Algiers, said in a statement to Magharebia that “the opportunities for a partnership between Tunisia and Algeria are huge. These opportunities are bolstered by the political will which has been reiterated by the authorities in both countries.” This could take the form of simplified procedures for successful Maghreb economic integration.

Source : magharebia.com

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Posted June 13, 2011 by newworldconsulting in Uncategorized

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