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Best Countries for Business: poor ranking for Tunisia

US business magazine Forbes has recently published its 2014 annual ranking of Best Countries for Business. In this ranking, Tunisia appears as a “black sheep” like Morocco and Algeria, the three Maghreb countries, which are credited with not very gratifying scores.

The second spot in the Maghreb went to Tunisia, which is very poorly ranked globally, coming 87th and therefore moving down 10 spots compared to the 2013 ranking (77th) and overtaken by Morocco, ranked number 1 in the Maghreb (79th) while Algeria came 137th.

Actually, the ranking of Tunisia, 87th globally, is not very surprising especially after more than three years of political exercise and economic underperformance.

Produced and published by the New Yorker magazine, Forbes, the annual ranking of the Best Countries for Business 2014 puts in comparison a list of 146 countries in the world.

As for Tunisia, Forbes report noted that the country’s diverse, market-oriented economy has long been cited as a success story in Africa and the Middle East, but it faces an array of challenges during the country’s ongoing political transition.

Forbes recalled, in this context, that following an ill-fated experiment with socialist economic policies in the 1960s, Tunisia embarked on a successful strategy focused on bolstering exports, foreign investment, and tourism, all of which have become central to the country’s economy, noting that Tunisia’s key exports now include textiles and apparel, food products, petroleum products, chemicals, and phosphates, with about 80% of exports bound for Tunisia’s main economic partner, the European Union.

The report also noted that Tunisia’s liberal strategy, coupled with investments in education and infrastructure, fueled decades of 4-5% annual GDP growth and improving living standards, adding that the ousted president Ben Ali continued these policies, but as his reign wore on cronyism and corruption stymied economic performance and unemployment rose among the country’s growing ranks of university graduates.

the Liberal strategy of Tunisia coupled with investments in education and infrastructure has fueled decades of annual growth of 4 to 5% and improved living standards, adding that the ousted president Ben Ali continued these policies but that his time in power was based on cronyism and corruption, which has undermined the economic performance while unemployment has exploded among higher education graduates. These grievances contributed, according to the report, to the January 2011 overthrow of BEN ALI, sending Tunisia’s economy into a tailspin as tourism and investment declined sharply.

According to the report, during 2012 and 2013, the Tunisian Government’s focus on the political transition led to a neglect of the economy that resulted in several downgrades of Tunisia’s credit rating.

It added that Tunisia’s government faces challenges reassuring businesses and investors, bringing budget and current account deficits under control, shoring up the country’s financial system, bringing down high unemployment, and reducing economic disparities between the more developed coastal region and the impoverished interior.

This ranking of Best Countries for Business 2014 is done via the consolidation of the results of numerous reports and investigations carried out by the World Bank, Heritage Foundation; World Economic Forum; Transparency International; Freedom House; CIA and Property Rights Alliance.

Top 3 worldwide in this ranking is occupied by Denmark 1, Hong Kong 2nd and New Zealand 3rd.



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