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-Country overview –


Contingent to Europe, Africa, and Arab nations, Algeria is the largest of the five Maghreb countries (Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Libya), the second largest country on the African continent after Sudan and tenth largest in the world. This strategic geographic location offers many advantages likely to boost investment potential, in particular foreign investment in export-oriented activities. The hydrocarbons sector is the backbone of the economy.At the beginning of the 90s, the Algerian government started a process of transition from a centralised to a market-oriented economy by implementing stabilisation and structural adjustment programmes with the technical assistance and financial support of the IMF, the World Bank, and the European Union.

Algeria’s economic growth has continued to be underpinned by ongoing growth in oil and gas exports, (revenues from hydrocarbons represent 97 percent of export earnings from goods and non factor services), leading to a large increase in the trade surplus (US$ 50 billion). Thus, GDP grew from around 3 percent in 2000-02 to nearly 6 percent in 2003-04 and 5.1 percent in 2005. Thanks to taxes on oil, which represent more than 60 percent of public revenue, this comfortable financial situation led authorities to pursue an expansionist budgetary policy and launch the Complementary Plan for Support to Growth (Programme complémentaire de soutien à la croissance – PCSC), which earmarks public expenditure for the period 2005-09, and the National Programme for Agricultural Development (PNDA).

Per capita GDP rose from US$ 1,783 in 2002 to US$ 3,100 in 2005, with purchasing power parity estimated at US$ 7,189 in 2005, fuelling an improvement in living standards throughout Algeria.

Multi-year projections in the 2005 finance law show an average growth rate of 5.3 percent a year over the period 2005-2009. Prudent management of oil income has enabled Algeria to reduce debt while maintaining reserves. Thanks to the Central Bank of Algeria’s restrictive monetary policy, inflation was kept down to 3.6 percent in 2004 and 1.5 percent in 2005. With public debt rolled back to 24.7 percent, foreign-exchange reserves equivalent to nearly 24 months of imports and a surplus in the overall budget, Algeria has finally succeeded in attaining economic stability. The unemployment rate fell from 23.7 percent in 2003 to 17 percent in 2004 and 13 percent in 2005.


Renewed growth is being led mainly by oil resources, a particularly vulnerable development model in the long run. With 48 percent added value, the hydrocarbons sector is the main source of revenue for the economy (95 percent of export earnings). This makes Algeria’s external position particularly vulnerable, with Algerian exports among the least diversified of all middle-income countries.

Agricultural development faces multiple constraints, in particular a shortage of agricultural land, insufficient output, and heavy dependency on weather conditions.

Strong points

Algeria’s major assets and comparative advantages are as follows :
– Proximity and easy access to potential markets. Contingent to Europe, Africa and Arab countries, Algeria’s strategic location greatly boosts its investment potential, particularly attractive for export-oriented foreign investment;
– Large domestic market (33 million consumers);
– Important natural resources (oil, gas, etc.). Other mineral resources remain greatly under exploited, particularly phosphates and iron;
– Abundant human resources and flexible labour market, the many universities, national;
– University level colleges specialised in professional training (grandes écoles) and vocational training centres ensuring the availability of skilled personnel.

Capital Algiers
Surface area 2 381 741              2 381 741      km²
Population 35.3 million inhabitants (2009)
Languages Arabic, French, Berber (Tamazight)
GNP (dollars) 128 billion (2009)
GNP/per capita (dollars) 3 640 US$ (2009)
Currency Algerian Dinar (DZ)
1 Euro = 99,4 DZ – 1 USD = 69,9 D
Religion Sunni Muslims (99 %)
National holiday 5th July (independence in 1962)
Association Agreement with EU Signed in 2002, implemented on 1st September 2005.
EU web site:
WTO membership Observer since 1985. Membership being negotiated.

Sources : Banque Mondiale, FMI, CIA World Fact Book, World Development Indicators


A Mediterranean country that also borders the Atlantic, the Kingdom of Morocco is the most western country in North Africa, with a western coastline along the Atlantic Ocean that turns at the Straits of Gibraltar and continues along the Mediterranean Sea. Its eastern border is with Algeria and a relatively narrow body of water separates it from Spain to the north.

Over the past decade, Morocco has embarked on an ambitious programme of structural reforms in several fields (cf. good performances attested by the report Doing Business), aiming to further liberalise its markets and enhance the competitiveness of its economy. 

This policy aims to help the Moroccan economy reach more sustainable growth, improve living conditions, and reduce social and regional disparities. Morocco has achieved significant progress as regards democratisation of public life, education and health, and strengthening of basic infrastructure. All these advances have contributed to greater social and political stability. However, growth in Morocco’s economy remains volatile, heavily dependent on agriculture, which in turn is at the mercy of weather conditions.

Morocco enjoyed higher economic growth of 4.5 percent between 2001 and 2004, but this is far from the level needed to fight poverty. The growth rate slipped to 1.7 percent in 2005 (compared to 3 percent in budget projections), affected by severe drought conditions (reflecting the economy’s great vulnerability to weather conditions), the slow transition of using national savings for productive investments (including those generated by transfer of funds from abroad) and Moroccan companies’ relatively weak competitiveness in the world economy despite the small/medium business modernisation programme. However, recovery is expected in 2006 (the latest estimates say around 7%), partly explained by exceptionally high agricultural output.

Morocco’s largest industry is phosphate mining, the second largest source of income is remittances from nationals living abroad, and the third is revenue from tourism.

Morocco’s largest employer is the primary sector, with 45 percent of the labour force and 60 percent of the female labour force. Agriculture represents between 12 and 17 percent of GDP, with variations from year to year, particularly vulnerable when rainfall is low. The secondary sector accounts for 30 percent of GDP, dominated by extraction and transformation of phosphates, which represent more than 17 percent of world production. The services sector is the largest sector in terms of contribution to real GDP (around 38 percent). Manufacturing is dominated by chemical and related industries, food, textiles, clothing, and leather goods, with an 18 percent share of GDP.

Long-term trends for Moroccan trade indicate increasingly open foreign trade, up from 41 percent in 1977 to 52 percent in 2002. In 2004, imports reached US$ 17.822 billion and exports US$ 9.925 billion. Exports from Morocco are dominated by three groups of products, representing nearly 79 percent of total sales: consumer goods (more than 80 percent being textile products), semi-finished products (phosphoric acid, natural and chemical manure, beverages) and foodstuffs. Sale of gross products (11.6 percent of total exports) involves primarily phosphates. Nearly 85 percent of the country’s imports involve semi-finished products, consumer goods, equipment, and energy-generating products. The EU is Morocco’s primary trading partner, providing 65 percent of Morocco’s imports (EUR 9.6 billion) and receiving 70 percent of Morocco’s exports (EUR 6 billion). France is by far the Kingdom’s number one trading partner (23.5 percent of overall trade), followed by Spain (12.9 percent), Italy (5.7 percent), Germany (4.1 percent), the United Kingdom (3.7 percent) and the United States (4.1 percent).

The Moroccan economy remains heavily dependent on agriculture (20 percent of GDP, 40 percent of employment), and thus highly sensitive to weather conditions. Unemployment is high, and the labour force is growing considerably (3 percent), with increasingly broad participation by women in the labour force. Large segments of the population are still socially and economically marginalised, with some 15 percent of the population considered poor. In spite of the progress recorded over the past few years, current economic dynamics are insufficient to maintain employment and meet these challenges. A National Initiative for the Human Development (NIHD) was launched in May 2005, aiming at reducing the social and geographical disparities, developing employment and income, and helping vulnerable populations by means of a participative and transparent process. The total cost of the Initiative over the period 2006-2010 is estimated at 10 billion dirhams (2 percent of the GDP). The rate of unemployment dropped significantly in 2006 to 9.7 percent at national level, vs. 11.1 percent in 2005, according to the High Planning Commission (HCP). This rate declined to 15.5 percent in urban area (18.4 percent in 2005) and 3.7 percent in rural area (3.6 percent in 2005).
Strong points
Among Morocco’s assets, the low cost and the high quality of labour, the country practises a policy of structural reforms which attract the interest of the investors. 

Its political, economic, geographical and financial proximity of the European Union contributes to the dynamism of the economy. Its political stability and its democratic evolution ensure to him the support of the international community.

An offshore financial market was instituted by the Dahir N 1-91-131 carrying promulgation of law N 58-90. This market is opened to banks and holding companies authorised to settle in the country.

The country has some attractive sectors: agrifood, fishing, phosphate, electronics, automotive and aeronautical sub-contracting, textile, clothing and leathers building and public works, tourism, telecommunications, trade, transport. Morocco made great progress in the aeronautical sub-contracting and near-shoring (close relocation), becoming the first offshore destination for the French-speaking market.

The country developed welcoming infrastructure for FDI such as industrial parks, technoparks and free zones for exports and logistics, economic activities zones and company headquarters.

Capital Rabat
Surface area 710,000 km2 (incl. Western Sahara)
Population 2009 31 879 000               31 879 000       inhabitants (IMF)
Languages Arabic, Berber, French, Spanish
GDP 2009 (dollars) US$ 84.6 (IMF)
GDP per capita (dollars) US$ 2,655 in 2009 (IMF)
Currency Moroccan Dirham (MAD)
1 Euro = 11.23 MAD – 1US$ = 8.4 MAD
Religion Islam (98.7 % Muslims); Christian (1.1%) and Jewish (0.2%) minorities
National holiday 30th July (Fête du Trône), 18th November (Independence Day)
Association Agreement with EU Signed on 26/02/1996; implemented since 1st March 2000
EU web site:
WTO membership Member since 1/1/1995


With its temperate climate, proximity to Europe, and a fairly skilled labour force, Tunisia enjoys significant comparative advantages. Having opted early on for a market economy and progressive integration in the world economy, the country’s economic policy has succeeded in boosting private sector involvement…

With its temperate climate, proximity to Europe, socio-political stability, and a fairly skilled labour force, Tunisia enjoys significant comparative advantages. Having opted early on for a market economy and progressive integration in the world economy, the country’s economic policy has succeeded in boosting private sector involvement, diversifying its industrial base, and containing the social cost of structural adjustment, a pre-condition for political and social stability. 

Tunisia was the first country (in 1995) to sign the free trade agreement with the European Union in the framework of the Euromed initiative. Between 1992 and 2004, Tunisia’s GDP rose by an average 4.1 percent, reaching a record 5.8 percent in 2004. The 2005 performance was for the most part positive (4.2 percent of GDP), despite tougher international competition and rising oil prices, sustained by favourable growth in service activities such as tourism (6.4 million tourists, TND2.563 million, some 12.5 percent of current revenues), air transport, telecommunications, and new technologies. For 2006, the latest estimates forecast GDP growth of 4.6 percent.

The manufacturing sector, in particular textile/clothing industries, has been the spearhead of Tunisia’s economic development since 1972, stimulated by a policy of foreign investment promotion and exports. 42 percent of overall manufacturing output is exported, thanks in particular to subcontracting activities. Manufacturing industries account for 20 percent of GDP and employ 20.5 percent of the labour force, whereas agriculture and fishing contribute for 14.3 percent of GDP and provide 22 percent of jobs and tourism generates 15.6 percent of GDP. The country counts more than 10,000 industrial companies.

A structural adjustment or “upgrading” programme has been introduced to improve the competitiveness of the manufacturing sector and related service companies in order to prepare companies for implementation of the free trade zone with the EU. In parallel, a strategy of export promotion was launched to strengthen export capacity at the company level. One component of this strategy is the institution of a documentation called the “single bundle” (liasse unique) for imports and exports. As early as 1989 the Government also set up a legislative framework for privatisation. There have been several reforms of the financial system, targeting sounder finances at banks and insurance companies and diversifying the range of financial products available to economic operators.

Thanks to a prudent monetary policy at the Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT), the inflation rate has fallen from 6.3 percent in 1995 to about 2 percent today. The Tunisian Dinar (TD) is convertible for current operations and a foreign exchange market was created recently, the objective being to reach total convertibility of the Dinar over the long term. Tunisia’s total national debt is projected at approximately US$ 16.3 billion for 2005 (57.6 percent of GDP) and its foreign debt is estimated at US$ 15.7 billion (54.9 percent).

As a result of its trade liberalisation policy, Tunisia has enjoyed dynamic exports, a narrowing of the trade deficit, and diversification of its export base. In 2005, the volume of trade reached TD 31 billion (EUR19 billion), despite difficult international economic conditions: an end to the multifibre agreement, soaring oil prices, and an economic downturn in Europe. The coverage rate of imports by exports increased from 69.6 percent in 2001 to 79.6 percent in 2005.

Exogenous factors such as the European demand and the climatic risks strongly determine the trend of the growth. 

An increased effort of investment and modernisation of the companies is essential to improve competitiveness of the Tunisian products, in particular in the textile sector.

The situation of the banking system remains fragile and reduces the access to credit for the companies.

Tunisia does not have many natural resources and is dependent on imports for its energy needs and thus on the world levels on oil.

Unemployment reaches 14.2% of the working population. It is accentuated by the arrival of many young graduates on the market. The principal challenge is to increase the current annual economic growth from at least 1-1.5% before 2010 in order to reduce the unemployment that the graduates are more and more facing.

Strong points
The implementation of economic reforms attracts foreign investors. This policy is facilitated by the support of the European Union and of the international community. 

The solvency of the country favours its access to the international capital markets.

The increasing diversification of the economy reinforces its resistance to the global economic situation.

Tunisia enjoys a strategic position in the Mediterranean. Tunis is at 2 hours flight in average from the main European capital cities.

A developed social system and an ambitious education policy aim at attenuating the social cost of the adjustment and at reinforcing the modernisation of the country.

Tunisia has a qualified, productive work force and competitive wages. Thanks to the reforms of the education, the new graduated arriving on the labour market represent more than half of the additional needs planned for the period 2002-2006.

In addition, the Finance law 2007 as well as measures in favour of technological innovation and economic competitiveness should create a very favourable environment for SMEs.

The government has indeed set the target of creating 70 000 companies by 2009. Two tools in particular were created at the end of 2006: the Bank of financing for small and medium companies (BFPME), aimed at focusing on innovative projects; and the Tunisian Company of guarantee (SOTUGAR) to secure the investors and guarantee the profitability of the projects.

Capital Tunis
Surface area 162 155 km2
Population 2009 10 429 000               10 429 000       inhabitants (IMF)
Languages Arabic, French, English, Italian
GDP 2009 (dollars) US$ 39.7 bn (IMF)
GDP per capita (dollars) US$ 3 812 in 2009 (IMF)
Currency Tunisian Dinar (TND)
1 EUR=1.76 TND – 1US$ =1.31 TND
Religion Muslims (98%), Christians, Jews and others (2%)
National holiday 20th March (independence in 1956)
Association Agreement with EU Signed on 17 July 1995, implemented since March 1998.
EU web site:
WTO membership Member since 1995


Located in North Africa, Libya is the fourth largest country in Africa. Bordering the Mediterranean Sea, it has land borders with Tunisia, Algeria, Niger, Chad, Egypt, and Sudan. Libya is a member of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU) and a founding member of the African Union (AU).

From the earliest days of his rule following the 1969 military coup, Colonel Muammar al-Qadhafi has espoused his own political system: the “Third Universal Theory”, codified in the Green Book. The system is a combination of liberalism and Marxism and is supposed to be implemented by the Libyan people themselves. 

After more than ten years of international isolation due to the 1988 bombing of a Pan Am plane over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, the U.N. sanctions were suspended in April 1999 and finally lifted in September 2003 after Libya settled the Lockerbie claims and agreed to stop developing weapons of mass destruction. Qadhafi has made significant strides in normalizing relations with western nations since then and has made progress on economic reforms as part of a broader campaign to bring the country back into the international fold. The country has huge potential for modernization and foreign investments and is currently experiencing a business boom including oil and gas, thanks to plentiful high-quality hydrocarbon reserves. Other major opportunities are in infrastructure projects, airports and ports, healthcare, tourism and education and training. Libya will need to make considerable progress in all these areas if it is to realize its full potential.

Libya is generously endowed with energy resources, with one of the largest proven oil reserves in the world (39.1 billion barrels of reserves according to OPEC statistics and 1.500 billion m3 of gas reserves). Libya’s economy is heavily reliant on oil revenues but attempts are underway to diversify. Libya’s income from oil exports has increased sharply in recent years, posting $28.3 billion in 2005 and forecast at $31.2 billion in 2006, up from just $5.9 billion in 1998. The rebound in oil prices since 1999, along with the lifting of U.S. and U.N. sanctions, have resulted in an improvement in Libya’s foreign reserves ($31 billion as of June 2005), trade balance (a $17 billion surplus in 2005) and overall economic situation.

A part due to higher oil export revenue, Libya experienced strong economic growth in 2003, with real gross domestic product (GDP) estimated to have grown by about 9.1 percent. Economic and financial conditions continued to be favourable in 2004 and 2005, with GDP growth of 4.6 percent and 3.5 percent respectively, projected at 5 percent for 2006 in the IMF’s annual economic review. This level of oil revenue and a small population give Libya one of the highest per capita GDPs in Africa, posting $6800 in 2005. Soaring oil prices contributed to a significant increase in the external current account surplus, reaching about 15 percent of GDP. Oil export earnings increased by 47 percent to about $29 billion and non-oil exports, mainly petrochemicals, also grew markedly. Nearly 85 percent of oil production is exported, accounting for 95 percent of total exports and 60 percent of the country’s income. Kept down to OPEC’s quota, production has for several years come in between 1.3 and 1.4 million barrels per day, making Libya the second largest oil exporter in Africa. However almost $30 billion in investments in oil exploration will be needed to bring production of hydrocarbons to 3 million barrels per day by 2010.

Imports grew by 24 percent to some $11 billion, boosted by increased domestic demand. Overall, gross international reserves rose to about 32 months of imports (based on 2005 volume).
a’s main trading partners are the EU (mainly Italy, the United Kingdom, Germany and France), Maghreb countries, and Turkey.

Libya has begun to respond to international, political and economic pressure, adopting market orientated reforms and introducing initial liberalization of the socialist-oriented economy. Since settlement of the Lockerbie claims and lifting of international sanctions, many countries have re-established dialogue with Libya. Qadhafi has affirmed his willingness to move towards economic reform, liberalization and a reduction in the state’s direct role in the economy.

In June 2003 he said that the country’s public sector had failed and should be abolished and called for privatization of the country’s oil sector along with other areas of the economy. He also pledged to bring Libya into the World Trade Organization (WTO), with adoption of a new customs system (Law-Decree n° 83 of July 7, 2005) including abolition of licenses, lowering of tariff protection by removing import taxes on all products (except 85 items), in favour of a 4 percent customs service (handling) fee, reducing customs duty on products manufactured locally to a maximum of 2.5 percent and consumer tax to rates of 25 or 50 percent (similar to VAT, which does not yet exist).

Official name Great  People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
Capital Tripoli (1.3 million inhabitants)
Surface area 1,760,000 km2
Population 2009 6.3 million (IMF)
Languages Arabic. English and Italian widely spoken.
GDP 2009 (dollars) 62.9 billion (IMF)
GDP per capita (dollars) US$ 9,936 in 2009 (IMF)
Currency (2009) 1 € = 1.76 Libyan Dinar (LYD)
1 $ = 1.24 LYD
Religion Muslims (97%), Christians (3%)
National holiday September 1 (commemorating the 1969 revolution) – December 24 (Independence day from Italy).
Association Agreement with EU Observer since 1999
WTO membership Observer since 2004, in negotiation for its accession.


Posted December 30, 2010 by newworldconsulting

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