07 Dec 2018
According to the department of trade and industry, Tunisia is planning to boost trade and investment with South Africa by means of establishing a business council.
The department’s deputy minister Bulelani Magwanishe said that he had found “disconcertingly low levels of trade and investment between the two countries" when visiting business associations in Tunis.
"This is the reason why we have embarked on a serious engagement with the Tunisian private sector so that we can get the ball rolling to bring them in contact with their South African counterparts in order to do business,” Magwanishe said.
As reported by the African News Agency (ANA), when speaking of cooperating with South Africa for the purpose of increasing trade and investment relations, Tunisian business associations expressed their eagerness and noted that the establishment of a joint business council would be the primary step. This would help enhance communication and explore investment and trade opportunities, as well as focus on the transfer of skills, industrialisation and infrastructure development.
Board member of the Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade and Handcrafts, Abdesalem Loued said: “We are amenable to the idea of establishing a joint business council as the first priority. Our association wants to forge relations with companies in South Africa through cooperation with the local business associations or chambers there. We have member companies that have invested in other countries and we are confident that they will be interested in investing in South Africa as well if we manage to set up the appropriate platforms and connections that will enable us to share information on what is available there in South Africa in terms of investment and trade opportunities.”
The President of the Tunis Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Mournir Mouakhar, also expressed his associations’ dedication towards focusing their attention on heightening trade and investment negotiations with SA.
“We support the formation of a business council that we will use as a vehicle to promote trade and investment, but we are looking at a sector-specific approach as a starting point of identifying investment and trade opportunities that we can explore together. We are also looking at the development of business relations among South African, Tunisian and French companies. The fact that Tunisia has become a member of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa means that businesspeople in the two regions will be able to work closely together and contribute in stimulating intra-Africa trade and investment,” added Mouakhar.
The President of the Tunisia-Africa Business Council, Bassem Loukil, pointed out that Tunisian and South African companies could benefit from collaboratively exploring opportunities in the automotive, pharmaceutical, agricultural and tourism fields of the Tunisian economy.
He went on to say, “Our focus is on the intra-African trade and investment as well as assisting African companies expand their market to Europe. We are excited about the proposed structure that will bring us closer to the South African businesspeople in order for us to work together and increase trade and investment amongst the African Continent.”