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Wednesday 23 June 2021
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Paris helps Saïed to help Mechichi with IMF debt

The Tunisian head of state has ended his visit to France, at the invitation of Emmanuel Macron. Saied, who was accompanied by BCT Governor Marouane El Abassi, was not there for the Paris Club, as some critics had whispered, but for the summit on the financing of African economies.

This is a kind of France-Africa summit, but in the presence of almost all the donors, and in a special context, strongly marked by COVID-19, which has had an impact on African economies, some of which are now in recession, due to the health and financial effects of the pandemic.

A visit, it must be said with all the criticism that is made, which helped discover a Kais Saied who is now interested in his country’s economic problems and how to provide solutions through the economic impetus he seems to give to the diplomacy he leads. But also, a head of state who believes more and more in Africa and in African multilateral work, for the good of the economy of his country and of the entire continent.

Another Saied has emerged, more economic and more African than ever

In our opinion, Said’s visit to Paris was marked above all by a very poor media performance on France 24. And yet, there was, this time and unlike other visits of the head of state, much to say about the results of this official trip, and not only criticism, but even good and concrete, as the people demand.

Commenting for Africanmanager on the results of the visit of the head of state, Tunisian ambassador in Paris Karim Jamoussi, begins by noting that “this summit is actually framed as a new paradigm to try to reduce the disparities between the North and the South, which French President Emmanuel Macron is concerned about. And the fact of having around the same table 21 heads of state and heads of African governments, as well as donors, such as the World Bank, the IMF, the AfDB, the EBRD, the African Union and the European Union and its Portuguese presidency, was the ideal framework for multilateral negotiations to provide solutions to the crisis in the South.

The Tunisian ambassador noted that “the Tunisian participation, upstream and during the summit, was energetic, and worthy of a true economic diplomacy, whose objective was to constitute a multilateral strike force that would allow to secure benefits that it could not have alone.

Soon, Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire and Tshisekede of DRC in Tunisia, and projects too

He added that “the African heads of state, including President Kais Saied, have now as they have shown in Paris, the feeling that acting together and in coalition, gives them much strength and weight to achieve their national objectives.

This concern, as we have seen, was shared by President Saied, Senegalese President Macky Sall, President of Côte d’Ivoire Alassane Ouattara, President of the DRC and current Chair of the African Union Felix Tshisekede, and Egyptian Head of State Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. All were unanimous in considering that today the solution lies in working together to restore Africa’s image and get it out of the crisis. And it could be said, almost, that the participation of Saied in the Paris summit where the two key issues were the debt and the COVID-19 vaccine has seen the resurgence in the Tunisian head of state of a full awareness of the diplomatic and economic importance of Africa for Tunisia.

An awareness and a willingness to better position Tunisia in Africa, which will be reflected in the visits to Tunisia of Côte d’Ivoire’s President Alassane Ouattara and Congolese President Felix Tshisekede, in the coming weeks, Ambassador Karim Jamoussi announced for Africanmanager, before adding that, “and to speak concretely, with key technical preparation for these visits, for inter-African investments consequent in both directions.

It seems that the Senegalese president would have been keenly interested in the project of medical center in Kairouan, and that the issue of university education in Tunisia for Ivorians and Congolese would also have been discussed at length between Saied and the heads of state of these two countries.

 It would be understood that it is in Paris that the Tunisian head of state has finally become aware of the African dimension of his country, and would have begun to implement this awareness for the Tunisian national economy. “I am African, and I deplore that we do not cooperate as it should be with the rest of the countries of the continent, while we could take advantage of the specificities of each, for a win-win partnership, “said the ambassador who reported what was said in Paris by the Tunisian head of state, who signed a return to his African sources, a return where the work of the diplomat was important.

African SDRs, including Tunisia’s increased by 100 billion TD

It is clear, according to the information we received from Ambassador Jamoussi, that the work of the African bloc, with a Kais Saied who had since his arrival in Paris, held meetings with the Ivorian and Senegalese presidents and the president of the AfDB in particular,  focused on the issue of SDRs (Special Drawing Rights) with the IMF, as a solution to address the financial crisis of each country, on the one hand, and better manage the burden of their debt, so as not to take hostage the opportunities for growth, on the other hand.

The Tunisian ambassador to France tells us that one of the most important results of Kais Saied’s participation in the Paris Summit was “the increase, not of 33 billion USD as initially planned, but of 100 billion USD of the SDRs of the African countries to the IMF, This would now amount to USD 650 billion, through the reallocation of quotas from France, Spain, Portugal and perhaps even the United States, and it is not all African countries that are requesting SDRs,” according to Karim Jamoussi.

It is important to remember that the financial aid granted to certain countries by the IMF is strongly linked to the amount of SDRs of each of them. And it is this link that would have determined the last position of the IMF with regard to the Tunisian request for a credit of 4 billion USD. In fact, therefore, an increase in Tunisia’s SDRs, among the increase of the rest of the African countries participating in the Paris Summit, will give new perspectives to the Tunisian request to the technical negotiations already engaged with the IMF. But it will also and above all give a new perspective to the Tunisian debt to the IMF, with SDR rates around 0.05%. And even for any possible future borrowing from the international financial markets by the country. The exact volume of Tunisia’s SDRs will however be known by the end of June or early July, and will become effective in September 2021.

More vaccines, which will be sent by France

Anxious to resolve the issue of supplying Tunisia with vaccines, and boost the vaccination campaign, which has become a tool for economic recovery, Tunisian President Kais Saied did not return to Tunis empty-handed. France, the first economic partner of Tunisia, will provide additional vaccine doses, in significant quantities, to the country where these quantities would arrive next June, through the COVAX mechanism. To all this, we must add three oxygen generators worth 3 MDT in donation from France, which will help to fill the deficit of Tunisia in this vital material.

Described as such, the participation of the Head of State at the Paris Summit on the financing of African economies is seen in a different light, that of a result more than convincing, different from all his other visits, including in Arab countries. And especially a result that gives another image of the image-bearer of Tunisian diplomacy who is the Head of State Kais Saied. A visit that, ultimately, will have allowed to put in tune with the interest of the state, the head of state and head of government.


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