French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe, who is visiting Tunisia on Wednesday, April 20, 2011, will be the 9th French minister to visit Tunisia in 90 days of the Revolution, i.e. a rate of one Minister every 10 days.
At the Embassy of France in Tunisia, we see a confirmation, if necessary, of the willingness of the leading economic partner of Tunisia to support the political and economic transition of that partner which is also its southern border.
The remark is important in this moment in the life of the Tunisian-European relations, marked by the issue of illegal migrants.
At the Embassy of France, we are told that the action to develop cooperation between the two countries extends over more than one axis. First, the economy and commerce where we recall the visits paid from February to April, in particular by Christine Lagarde and Frederic Lefebvre, Minister of Economy, Finance and Industry and Secretary of State for Commerce, Handicrafts and Tourism, respectively.
The services of the embassy have never stopped, however, to receive Tunisian and French operators settled in Tunisia to see how to reassure and encourage investment.
France is now the first foreign investor exclusive of Energy of Tunisia with 1.5 billion Euros. France is also the first customer of Tunisia, with 29% Tunisian exports going directly to France, which is also the first provider of Tunisia with 19% of the latter’s market in the hands of French companies,” and we really want to continue working in this direction, “assures us Ambassador Boris Boillon.
To do this, the initiatives of the Ambassador for B2B meetings have multiplied.
We have learnt that on April 27, not less than 4 Tunisian ministers: the Minister of Tourism and Trade, the Minister of Transportation, the Minister of Industry and the Minister of Employment will meet with MEDEF International in Paris.
They will meet with 200 heads of French companies including those of the CAC40. The aim is to “assure French operators and groups and tell them that you can continue to trust the Tunisian economy and that Tunisia is much better than the image you can have. Yes there are tanks in Tunis, but this is not war, “the ambassador said with conviction.
This meeting at the headquarters of French Employers Organization will not be the last.
Two major economic and commercial events will take place in Paris from May 5 to 11.
They will bring together the Chamber of Commerce of Paris and many other chambers of commerce to continue marketing Tunisia and promoting its new image.
On May 5, there will be a large meeting between businessmen and the French-Arab Chamber of Commerce to be attended by the French Secretary of State for Foreign Trade, Pierre Lellouche, who had already visited Tunisia, from March 17 to 18 March 2011, along with a number of French business leaders.
Again, the goal is to continue to attract companies to invest in the Tunisian market.
Ambassador Boillon seems confident, in any case, in the willingness of his country’s entrepreneurs to develop their business in Tunisia.
“The French companies will be able to absorb the shock and start on new databases that offer, in turn, new opportunities, he told us before assuming that out of the 1,200 companies operating in Tunisia before the Revolution, only 1% have stopped or left Tunisia.
We have also learnt that companies like Zodiac and Airbus, working in aviation, have stayed and have even increased their presence in Tunisia.
This, regardless of what the Revolution itself has generated as new opportunities in other sectors, such as reinsurance and insurance brokerage.
French companies in the sector, which were received by the staff of the Embassy, have showed increasing interest in Tunis and some expect this year a double-digit growth, thanks, if we may say, to the recent Tunisian events.
The other axis, that is no less important, on which works Ambassador Boillon, is the “approximation of civil societies.” We are given as an example in this framework, the next
Tunisian-French Forum to be held from May 20 to 21, 2011 in Tunis between NGOs and associations in both countries.
Three themes will be on the agenda. First: citizenship, then the environment and last and most importantly, solidarity in terms of women’s health in disadvantaged areas and microcredit for financing of micro projects.
It will be attended by Journalists, of course, NGOs, associations, businesses and donors to allow meetings and creation of micro-projects.
Ambassador Boillon has already announced a special fund of one million euros for micro enterprises to be created in Tunisia, already available and waiting for projects.
Moreover, cooperation will be strengthened in the field of Radio and TV where Tunisia is already receiving delegations of France 24, RFI and CFI for fieldwork in training, especially ahead of the next elections, let alone the interest, always shown in
training for new media and exchanges between French and Tunisian newspapers.
Meanwhile, Ambassador Boris Boillon remains very confident in the development of his country’s relations with Tunisia. “Politically, cooperation is very good. We have full confidence in what happens in Tunisia and we are very optimistic for Post-July 24 Tunisia, he concludes.