Trade tops Tunisian-Algerian priorities
By Monia Ghanmi for Magharebia in Tunis – 19/06/12
Tunisia and Algeria are actively pursuing measures to strengthen their relationship in order to boost economic development and trade.
Over the past year, the two countries have signed 12 documents pertaining to co-operation in the economic, cultural and service sectors leading to increased Algerian-Tunisian unity and economic prosperity.
It appears that the work is beginning to pay off.
According to a June 17th Algerian Interior Ministry report, collaboration between Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Morocco has led to a 50% decrease in border trafficking over the past six months.
Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali in an interview with AFP on June 7th said that there were "0% problems and 100% co-operation" between Algeria and Tunisia at the moment.
To reinforce the relationship, the two countries agreed to establish a bilateral investment fund and to adopt a bilateral legal system to encourage each country to set up companies and to invest in the other.
During a June 11th investment workshop in Tunis, Moncef Othmani, the Algerian representative at the Tunisian-Algerian Chamber of Commerce (CMTA), encouraged companies to invest in all sectors in Tunisia and Algeria, calling for a shortlist of initial projects.
He stressed the need for guarantees that would benefit investors from both sides, further boost co-operation and attract local and international entrepreneurs.
Trade exchange between Tunisia and Algeria has notably increased during the first four months of this year, reaching $531 million with an estimated annual rate of $1 billion, according to CMTA figures.
According to General Union of Algerian Traders and Artisans (UGCAA) spokesman Boulenouar El Hadj Tahar, the figures are relatively weak, given the two countries' historical relations, their economic and commercial needs, as well as their geographic advantage.
He added that the growing phenomenon of smuggling greatly hurt investment opportunities in the two countries, accounting for more than a quarter of trade.
Tunisia is now seeking investment in Algeria; planning to expand the scope of its activities and take advantage of the business climate—advanced infrastructure and low fuel prices.
Algeria needs productive foreign investment to reduce its imports, which amounted to $46 billion last year, including $3 billion in wheat imports and $1.7 billion in medicine.
Tunisian investors in Algeria should take advantage of investment opportunities offered by the Algerian market, Tunisian Trade Representation in Algeria director Riadh Ben Zargua said.
The number of Tunisian economic institutions active in the Algerian market varies between 70 and 80, while there are only 19 Algerian institutions in Tunisia, Ben Zargua explained.
He predicted an increase in Tunisian investment in Algeria in the automotive, pharmaceutical, construction, electricity, communication, information technology, and the food sector.
As far as the limited number of Algerian institutions in Tunisia, Ibrahim Jamal, Managing Director of the Studies Department at the National Investment Agency in Algeria told The African Manager, that it was due to past instability his country.
Subscribe to our newsletter and get Magharebia's latest articles delivered to your inbox.