“Work for the creation of a free trade area in Ben Guerdane will start in 2017, while the entry into operation is expected in 2018”, said Director General at the Ministry of Commerce in charge of the free trade area Mohamed Boussaid.
In an exclusive interview with African Manager on Tuesday, April 26, he added that efforts are currently focused on technical studies, after the finalization of land procedures.
He noted that the Office of Commerce of Tunisia will be responsible for this project whose cost is initially estimated to 120 million dinars.
“This project will generate over 7,000 job positions including 2,000 direct involving different specialties,” he said.
Among other objectives, the official stressed the importance of strengthening trade between Tunisia and Libya. It is also one of the mechanisms to eradicate smuggling that continues to seriously weigh on the Tunisian economy, according to him.
Indeed, smuggling and informal trade generate losses of 1.2 billion dinars for the state, including 500 million dinars in customs duties.
Worse still, the volume of illegal cross-border trade with Libya and Algeria has exceeded 1.8 billion dinars. The volume of parallel trade with Libya has reached more than half of the exchanges in the legal circuit.
Commercial actions are planned
Mohamed Boussaid was optimistic especially that it is a new experience given the nature of the commercial activity in this area.
“Commercial activities will be conducted through this free trade area in Ben Guerdane,” noted Mohamed Boussaid stressing that “this project covering an area of 150 hectares will consist of three areas” dedicated to the import of goods and transit, another to trade while the third area is designed for exporters, he has said, noting that several tax benefits will be offered in order to attract investors and business and logistical activities.