Tunisia has been classified 1st in the Maghreb and North Africa, and 61st worldwide, by the latest report of the World Bank (WB) on global trade logistics entitled, “Connecting to Compete 2010: Trade Logistics in the Global Economy” or “Connecting to Compete.”
This second report on the Logistics Performance Index (LPI) surveyed a total of 155 countries, including Tunisia which has distinguished itself in quality of public institutions, effective co-ordination, customs clearance of various border control services and trade facilitation, which are key indicators of LPI.
With this ranking (61st), Tunisia comes ahead of several Arab countries like Egypt (92nd). It is also ahead of some European countries, like Malta (64th) and Bulgaria (63rd), and large economies, such as Russia (94th) and Indonesia (75th).
The ranking was the result of a world survey that targeted freight forwarders and international express carriers.
The Logistics Performance Index is designed to help countries identify the challenges and opportunities regarding logistics trade performance (steps taken to facilitate international trade).
The report credits the improved performance of countries like Tunisia, Brazil and Colombia to the radical reforms undertaken by these countries in their logistical and trade facilitation systems, during the 2007-2010 period.
Although the study reveals a wide “logistics gap” between rich countries and most of the developing countries, it points out a positive development in some areas of crucial importance for logistics and trade performance. They essentially centre on modernization of customs services, the use of new information technologies and development of private logistics services.
Tunisia, which benefited through support projects from the World Bank group of an operation to strengthen its competitiveness, has taken important steps to reduce trade costs, simplify customs clearance procedures and boost bilateral and multilateral trade. Indeed, the country attaches great importance to logistics. It is within this framework that Tunisia undertook the project of the bundle of transportation, a generalized virtual one-stop shop, starting Friday, January 15, 2010 in the port of Radès.
This project, which is part of simplifying customs procedures, materialises the objectives set by the Head of State regarding the use of new technologies in the transport sector and upgrading of customs services. It also confirms the choice of promoting intelligent transportation, through the adoption of modern technological applications, to give greater efficiency to maritime transport, which provides 98% of trade.
As such, the presidential programme for the next five- year period provides, in its 10th topic titled “return to usual level of growth and re-elevate rhythm,” for simplifying foreign trade procedures, lowering costs of transactions and improving the efficiency of logistics services.
“Following our first survey in 2007, many developing countries have improved their capacity to connect to international markets, which is a key ingredient for competitiveness and economic growth,” says Otaviano Canuto, World Bank Vice President for Poverty Reduction and Economic Management.
“But if developing countries want to come out of the crisis in a stronger and more competitive position, they need to invest in better trade logistics.”
One of the survey’s goals is to identify the weakest links in the logistics chain, so countries can fix them, says World Bank trade economist Monica Alina Mustra, a main author of an accompanying report, “Connecting to Compete 2010: Trade Logistics and the Global Economy.”
World trade between countries is conductd via a network of increasingly connected logistics operators. But the ease with which traders can use this network to link up with international markets depends in large part on country-specific factors such as trade procedures, transport and telecommunications, infrastructure, and the domestic market for support services, says the report.
Indicators derived from the suvey rate quality of infrastructure, efficiency of clearance processes, logistics competence, timeliness, cost and other factors.
“A country can have a quick look and see which one of these indicators is not performing as well as you’d expect. It’s a first signal as to which areas might need more attention,” says Mustra.