Undoubtedly, relations between Tunisia and Germany keep on growing significantly. In fact, Tunisia is the 3rd Germany provider and the 1st importer of German products in the region. Germany, meanwhile, is the 3th trading partner of Tunisia with a market share of 7.9% in the Tunisian overall volume of imports and exports. Hans Heinrich Driftmann, the spokesman for the German economy and the President of the Association of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) granted us the interview as follows:
What is the purpose of your visit to Tunisia?
There are official reasons and personal ones. The official reason deals with the 30th anniversary of the AHK Tunisia. It is the first time that in my capacity of President of the DIHK (Association of German Chambers of Commerce, I pay a visit to Tunisia.
What about AHK?
Created in 1979 under a joint decision of both governments, the Tunisian-German Chamber of Industry & Commerce (AHK Tunisia), a Tunisian private law association, enjoys, owing to its parity status since over than 30 years, an excellent credit from official institutions as well from companies in both countries.
With more than 570 members (individuals and corporations) Tunisian and German, the AHK Tunisia’s main mission is to promote and develop lasting business relations between Tunisian and German partners.
AHK Tunisia has an Assembly, a Steering Committee headed by the President, and a team of 15 members.
The contribution of the AHK Tunesien to the development of bilateral economic relations is undeniable. Since its startup in 1979, it is endeavoring to attract FDI and German investors in Tunisia, including clothing, footwear, cables, automotive components, services and telecommunications. Then, once here, it accompanies them throughout their projects, encouraging them to further develop their activities. Several companies expanded their activities through developing projects or by investing in a new range of products. The AHK Tunesien is well established as an information center providing advice and practical support but also as an engine for promoting economic relations between Tunisia and Germany.
Interest in Tunisia is also growing in Germany. Economic relations are deepening. In fact, Tunisia has become an attractive production site and a dynamic market for German products.
In this context, CTAIC has established strong relationships with institutional structures, including the services of the German Embassy in Tunisia and the Ministry of Development and International Cooperation, not to mention its collaboration with Tunisian development agencies and other professional organizations and state and private institutions in Germany (BMWi, BMZ, KfW)
What is your assessment of trade exchanges between the two countries?
Despite the specter of economic crisis, trade between the two countries has grown considerably.
In 2008 statistics relating to Tunisia trading partners , Germany ranks third after France and Italy as customer and supplier.
In 2008, exports to Tunisia reached only 1.4 billion euro, up 10% over the previous year. This means that Tunisia is the third largest market for German products in North Africa after Egypt and Algeria, two countries more populous than Tunisia.
According to statistics from the Federal Office of Statistics in Wiesbaden, the Tunisian-German trade volume rose from 537.1 million euro up to 2.7 million which is equivalent to a fivefold increase.
If we compare the flow of trade between Tunisia and Germany for 30 years, it shows that exports to Tunisia were higher than imports from Tunisia. In 2008, German imports from Tunisia amounted to 1.340 billion Euros and German exports to Tunisia have reached 1.371 billion Euros. In this sense, we can say that the finished products stand at much more than 70%, followed by intermediate goods (about 21%).
Tunisia is for German companies mainly an export outlet for the textile semi-finished electronic products, vehicles, machinery and equipment, environmental technology, as well as industrial services. Tunisia provides mainly textile products manufactured by subcontractors, leather products and electronic products to Germany.
In general, we can say that these figures demonstrate the benefits of Tunisian-German win-win cooperation in the long term.