Trade and Handicrafts Minister voiced optimism at indices of the external trade, particularly those of exports.
Preliminary figures show a rise of 23.8% recorded by exports in December 2009 compared with the same period of 2008.
The minister, who was holding news conference in Tunis, shed light on the major goals of the sector for the present year, expressing hope that this upward trend will continue, all the more so that a revival of the world economy is expected.
He said the department plans, in 2010, to diversify national exports, thanks to the development of high added- value products and services. Efforts will also be made to diversify the economic and commercial partners.
The State will also seek, during the same year, he added, to strengthen international co-operation, particularly with African and Maghreb countries, finish off talks on the Maghreb free-trade zone, make the most of the Agadir Agreement and diversify exports outlets by intensifying businessmen’s missions abroad.
With regard to the quantitative goals, in 2010, Tunisia plans to increase exports (of goods and services) and imports, by 8.2% and 8.9%, respectively.
Meanwhile, efforts will be carried on to liberalise external trade and complete talks with the European Union (EU) to ensure liberalisation of the sectors of services and agricultural products, the minister reminded.
He said a law on external trade is currently underway, recalling that the implementation of the second programme for the promotion of exports, “FAMEX 2,” continues by easing procedures and cutting transactions costs.
The minister pointed to the start of identification of components of the third programme for exports promotion (FAMEX 3), in co-operation with the World Bank.
This programme is focused on four areas: quality, traceability, easing of procedures and exports guarantee. With regard to domestic trade, Mr. Ridha Ben Mosbah pointed out that action will focus, this year, on setting equalisation spendings at 730 million dinars, adding that the purpose is to direct equalisation solely to household consumption.
In this connection, the State will carry on reform of the equalisation system, given its role in socio-economic stability, will seek to strengthen the National Consumption Institute’s role and ensure market supply by relying on national production, he added. Mr. Ben Mosbah said the trade department will strive, in turn, to improve citizens’ buying power, guarantee market supply and curb costs to bring inflation down to a 3.3-per- cent rate, compared with 3.7% in 2009.
On handicrafts, the minister highlighted, among the best performances of 2009, the creation of 6,470 handicrafts enterprises with total investments worth 16.5 million dinars that generated 7,830 jobs.
The sector also witnessed the creation of several handicrafts villages (e.g.: Beja and Fernana), the start of conducting technical studies on 7 new villages in the governorate of Gafsa and 5 others in the regions of Zaghouan, Kebili, Kasserine, Gabes and Kairouan, in addition to completion of the first part of the Sejnene project and the ongoing implementation of the handicrafts development strategy by 2016.
The year 2010 will be marked, he added, by the implementation of the strategic plan and necessary studies for the achievement of projects of the presidential programme “Together, We Meet Challenges,” especially the creation of a handicrafts and arts crafts city and generalisation of handicrafts villages nationwide.