The Tunisian-French Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CFTCI), Chokri Mamagholi, Secretary of State for Foreign Trade and representatives of companies operating in the service sector, held on Wednesday in Tunis a debate on the upgrading program of services.
The program, which began in May 2009, is currently the major project of the Ministry of Commerce and Handicrafts that its implementation is in parallel with negotiations carried out by Tunisia with the European Union and the World Trade Organization (WTO) on liberalizing of trade in services.
Foued Lakhoua, President of CTFCI said that the objective of developing the export potential of service businesses is to strengthen their position in the local market and help conquer new markets.
Mamoghli recalled the objectives of this pilot program targeting, in a first phase, a hundred private companies operating in the sectors of health, business services, the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and transport, which aims at sustaining the momentum of growth and competitiveness of enterprises and enhance the performance of the services sector in order to meet the challenge of employment, investment and export.
He said that “12 companies have been currently chosen to identify their needs in terms of upgrading and to select consulting firms to carry out their plans”, adding that the program focused on quality and the intangible (strategic management, marketing, ICT and innovation) and that it will certainly contribute to achieve the objectives of export, investment and employment.
In the employment sector, the program will target primarily university graduates, he said, recalling that insofar as exports are concerned, Tunisia intends to increase the contribution of services sector to reach 64 % of the GDP 30% of total exports.
The sector contributes, currently at a rate of 60% to the country’s GDP, represents 50% of the overall investments and 26% of Tunisian exports against a global average of 20%. It employs 49 % of work force and contributes to the creation of 60 %of new jobs.
The debate raised several issues relating to the upgrading program of service compared to the old program, the free movement of persons and capital, the impediments to the export of certain services (gratitude diplomas, logistical problems.).
During the debate, some speakers called for the integration of the distribution sector to the list of sectors targeted by the program, stressing that this sector is of a strategic importance in trade and export development services and even necessary to help Tunisian services succeed in their positioning in international markets.