For her first visit, the president of Agentina, Cristina Fernandez De Kirchner, had in her programme, a very important point, a visit to the Union of Tunisian Industry, Commerce and Handicraft (UTICA). Heading a delegation of 50 businessmen from her country, the Argentinian president will also visit Algeria, Libya and Egypt. This visit, just a few days after her participation to the G20 Summit in the United States, is, indeed, more than than one purpose, boost exchange between her country and the North-African countries, but also convey a message form the congressists to cool down spirits towards the international financial crisis. The Argentinian president considers Tunisia and all the countries in the region as a pipeline for her countrys products, which succeeded to recover from a serious crisis in the beginning of this century.
Argentina : This means doing business with one of the giants
Following protocols and welcome addresses, the Argentinian president got quickly down to the core of the matter. Après les protocoles et les mots de bienvenue, la présidente argentine a très vite entré au vif du sujet. Hédi Djilani (UTICA) answered with a welcome address developing the economic, political and social achievements of Tunisia. The Argentinian president, then, started to enumerate the performances of a country which had undergone one of the most disastrous crisis just a few years ago. Argentina is today the 9th world economy, mainly thanks to a highly qualified workforce, a diversified economy and of course abundant natural resources that the country is starting to « re-industrialise », these performances allowed the country to maintain a 7%, growth rate ; the Argentinian president even insisted on «during the last few months, and despite troubles on the international arena, the country maintained its growth rate at 7.4% ». The country of tango is not only a country of football, with about 40 million inhabitants, for a surface area of 27.780.00 km², the second largest country in Latin America (after Brazil) and the 8th country in the world in terms of surface area. Its economy is mainly based on agriculture (cereals, cotton, sugar cane, tobacco, meat), petrol, gas, uranium, hydroelectrivity, siderurgy, automobile and electric industry. The Argentinian automobile industry, represented by many businessmen who were present within the delegation, underwent during the 90s an expansion and the implementation of the new
« automobile system» with new constructors. The sector realised an average annual growth of 38,5% in 95, providing 47.000 direct jobs. The margins of the sector are important and investments help the sector to modernize its equipments and installations. The FDI flows in the sector helped to realize a technological jump for the industry with the implementation of the quality certification throughout the chain. Productivity doubled in less than a decade.
The Trade Balance is in favour of Argentina, namely the agro-food !
President Kirchner focused onthe fact that her country,since the crisis in the beginning of the century, met the challenge of re-industrialisation of its raw materials. Argentina has, since then, developed its performances in the sectors of agriculture, informatics, technology and pharmaceutical and biotechnological industries. During the last years, the country realize a record volume in exports with 3 billion dollars, realizing a fiscal excess of 3.7% and decreasing the national debt of 106% of GDP, during the crisis, to between 50 and 55% of GDP currently. Consequently, unemployment rate slumped since then, it is at only below 8% now. The Argentinian president, and even if she has a message for a global solution to the current crisis, is here to do business « In this context of crisis, she says, every one is trying to find new markets, and we will try to put our products in your markets». According to her « In times of crisis, we live without many things, but not food», the Argentinian delegation, includes among the 47 participating enterprises, 15 enterprises specialised in agro-food. As to trade balance between Argentina and Tunisia, it is widely in deficit. Tunisia imported from this country for the amount of 338.6 MDT, it exported towards this South-American country only for 17.6 MDT (over the nine first months of this year). The Tunisian import structure shows that this includes mainly agro-food with cereals, meats, vegetal oils, sugar in addition to industrial residuals. Argentina imports from Tunisia phosphate fertilisers and derivates, olive oil and chemical products.
Memorandum of Understanding to link SMEs from both countries
Will this visit be a new start for trade exchanges between the two countries, it is true that there are no direct air liaisons with Buenos Aires, a pretext for many Tunisian businessmen, but there is the will, though. The visit of the President De Kirchner to UTICA ended by the signature of a memorandum of understanding between the Union of Tunisian Industry, Commerce and Handicraft and the Argentinian Union of Industry (AUI). This memorandum aims at promoting relations between the two organisations and intensifying trade and industrial relations between the two countries. In virtue of this agreement, the two organizations will offer reciprocal assistance to enterprises from both countries, through the facilitation of information and market access, as well as seeking potential partners. The two Employer associations committed to promote experience exchange in the field of services to members and giving the necessary assistance to the SMEs. It is then the start, the Argentinian enterprises present mainly in the sectors of agro-food, mechanical and electrical industries (IME) made business «B to B» contracts with the Tunisian enterprises.