UAE, Tunisia commit to boosting economic cooperation
DUBAI - As Tunisia moves to enhance economic relations with neighbouring countries and international partners, it is paying close attention to the United Arab Emirates.
On March 20, Tunisian Minister of Tourism and Handicrafts Salma Elloumi Rekik travelled to Dubai for talks on the economy and tourism.
Elloumi, accompanied by Tunisian Ambassador to the UAE Samir Manser, met with Emirati officials, including UAE Economy Minister Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansoori, Under-secretary of the UAE Ministry of Economy for Foreign Trade Affairs Abdullah bin Ahmed al-Saleh and Assistant Under-secretary for Commercial Affairs at the UAE Ministry of Economy Humaid bin Butti al-Muhairi. Elloumi expressed Tunisia’s interest in “promoting cooperation and partnership.”
Officials from both countries hailed significant growth in economic cooperation and resolved to collaborate further.
“Bilateral relations between the UAE and Tunisia are flourishing and… both countries are keen on enhancing cooperation across vital economic sectors, including tourism and investment,” said Mansoori.
Elloumi said Tunisia would like to see development in the tourism sector and an increase in “trade volumes, investments and joint ventures on both sides.”
Non-oil trade exchange between Tunisia and the UAE exceeded $415 million in 2016, a 7% increase from 2015.
Mansoori pointed out that “the strategic location of both countries opens tremendous potential for cooperation in priority sectors like tourism, trade, investment and civil aviation.”
He emphasised the importance of tourism in both countries, saying it is key to supporting economic growth and diversification and said economic cooperation should be centred on investments in tourism and civil aviation.
“The UAE has made remarkable progress in enhancing its competitiveness in crucial, sustainable tourist destinations by developing the necessary infrastructure,” Mansoori said.
Elloumi highlighted major economic developments in Tunisia, including in the educational and industrial sectors.
UAE officials called for a joint business forum to explore investment opportunities, which would include fostering direct ties between investors and entrepreneurs from both countries, as well as the UAE’s International Investors Council.
“A joint UAE and Tunisia business forum will work as a catalyst for strengthening bilateral trade and investment ties,” Elloumi said.
Tunisia’s efforts to strengthen relations with the UAE come when the North African country is facing a severe economic crisis. Soaring national inflation, crippling International Monetary Fund and government-imposed austerity measures, a devalued dinar and high unemployment have left citizens disillusioned and frustrated.
Experts in Tunisia called for investment in infrastructure, education and vocational training to create jobs, foster social cohesion and preserve the country’s fragile democracy.
They said that articulating clear international cooperation priorities with a national development strategy would help overcome the legacy of social and regional fractures.