Trade Minister Omar El Behi said in an exclusive interview with AfricanManager that the “Easy Export” project will boost the exports of Tunisian SMEs. He also said that preparations for the good market supply ahead of Ramadan are well under way.
El Behi has also stated that sales prices for vegetables and fruit will be revised downwards.
What is the level of contribution of the “Easy Export” project in boosting the exports of Tunisian SMEs and electronic commerce?
Tunisian SMEs suffer from several problems, particularly in terms of exports. These difficulties are operational, namely the complexity of administrative procedures.
The “Easy Export” project, in collaboration with the Tunisian Post, will facilitate exports of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), especially companies that are not very experienced in the export sector.
Similarly, the Universal Postal Union (UPU), the TTN, the CEPEX, the Customs, the Ministry of Trade, almost eleven parties, will ease the export procedures for the benefit of SMEs to strengthen their internationalization and promote their exports, through the postal network, while benefiting from the opportunities offered by logistics and digital solutions.
What is the role of the Ministry of Trade in this project?
The procedures that are applied by the Ministry of Commerce in the area of exports will be taken into consideration by this new platform.
This project is also among the main procedures of the Higher Council of Export. All export operations will be digitized, which will facilitate all activities of Tunisian companies.
What other projects is your department currently working on?
We are working on the export sector. We achieved record numbers in the export sector.
Moreover, in the first two months of the current year, we recorded a 37% increase in exports. This is a good result compared to the year 2017.
Similarly, the coverage rate has reached more than 75%. And despite the depreciation of the dinar, the deficit in the trade balance has eased in the first two months of 2018 (500 million dinars). So we will continue to make further efforts to strengthen the export sector.
I would like to point out that the increase in exports comes mainly from the sectors of agriculture, energy, the electrical and mechanical industries…
Recently, the selling prices of some vegetables have been revised downward. Will the trend continue?
We have recently held a working meeting with the Ministers of Agriculture and Industry: The objective is to ensure a good market supply of basic food products, especially with the approach of the month of Ramadan.
I want to note that all consumer products will be available and with a large quantity and this in comparison with 2017 (milk, egg, white meat, red meat, potato, pepper…). Vegetable sales prices are within everyone’s reach and we are working more to reduce fruit prices.
Have you brought corruption cases before courts?
I consider that the question of corruption is not a simple word; we are called to put in place mechanisms of governance to fight this phenomenon.
We have a subsidy problem and we have discovered several overruns in this area.
For example, we have put in place a control system for the distribution of flour in bakeries in order to avoid any manipulation by parties involved in this sector.
And what about senior officials in your department or those in the regional offices?
No, we do not have records of high-level corruption cases. It is true that corruption exists everywhere and I am convinced that governance and the establishment of a control system are very effective ways of dealing with it.