A Tunisian-Maltese Business Council was set up on Tuesday in Tunis, under an agreement signed by the Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA) and Malta’s Chamber of Commerce, Enterprises and Industry.
The agreement was signed by UTICA Deputy Chairwoman, Mrs. Zohra Idriss, and Chairman of the Maltese Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry Michael Ferrugia, on the sidelines of the Tunisia-Malta Economic Forum: “Opportunities of Co- operation and Business.”
It aims to boost and diversify economic exchanges and develop complementarity between Tunisia and Malta.
Special focus was given to the construction industry, the renewable energy sector, chemicals, medical devices, food, clothing, online trading, and management and technical consultancy.
The Maltese entrepreneurs were also taken to onsite visits to a leading technopole specialized in ICT, a pharmaceutical company and a national state company which is intensely developing its sector for renewable energy.
In the past days, Malta’s Ambassador in Tunisia and Malta Enterprise’s regional leader for the country have already met the President of the Tunis Chamber of Commerce, Mounir Mouakhar, ahead of the delegation’s visit.
During the meeting, it was noted that the two countries have a lot to offer to each other, with Malta being a gateway to the European market and Tunisia providing a similar gateway to North Africa and beyond.
Since the establishment of diplomatic relationships in December 1967, Malta and Tunisia have signed a total of 28 other bilateral agreements.
Trade gap between the two countries has narrowed down, and in 2008 both imports and exports amounted to around €13 million.
With a population of almost 10.5 million people and a GDP exceeding $40 billion, Tunisia is one of the European Union’s most established trading partners in the Mediterranean region.
It was the first country in the area to sign an Association Agreement with the EU 15 years ago, and had started dismantling tariffs on bilateral EU trade even before. It was also the first Mediterranean country to enter in a free trade area with the EU.
This has facilitated trade, which has risen swiftly in recent years. The EU is now Tunisia’s first trading partner, accounting for 72.5% of its imports (mostly machinery and transport equipment, textile and clothing, chemicals and energy) and 75% of its exports (mostly textile and clothing, machinery, and other manufacturing products; energy and agricultural products).
The EU is also the largest foreign investor in Tunisia and the country’s main market for the tourism industry.
Tunisia has also started to implement the new Pan-Euro-Mediterranean system of cumulation of origin. When applied, the system will allow Tunisia to export goods made with components imported from elsewhere without losing preferential access to the EU market. This encourages productive industry and the creation of regional markets.
According to statistics made available by the Exports Promotion Centre (CEPEX), Tunisia is the 19th customer of Malta and its 28th supplier, while Malta is the 55th customer of Tunisia and its 15th supplier.