finance & economy

Full involvement in AfCFTA could increase national income by 6% by 2035 (Minister of Trade)

November 29, 2021

TAP) - 'Tunisia's national income should increase by 6% by 2035 under the condition of a full involvement in the African continental zone, through the removal of tariff and non-tariff barriers and the adoption of a trade facilitation approach,' Trade and Export Development Minister Fadhila Rabhi Ben Hamza said Friday in Tunis.

The minister, who was speaking at the opening of the international conference on African trade agreements, particularly in relation to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), added that 'Tunisia would be one of the main beneficiaries of the advantages brought by this African free trade area,' noting that once the agreement on the creation of this area is implemented, 'the share of Tunisian exports to Africa will increase by 91%, to reach 19% of total exports in 2035, compared to about 11% currently.

Indeed, the African Continental Free Trade Area is a comprehensive agreement that goes beyond the traditional trade agreement. In addition to the liberalisation of trade in goods and the liberalisation of trade in services, it includes the harmonisation of national policies on competition, investment, intellectual property and electronic commerce.

According to the Minister of Trade, 'there is no point in liberalising the exchange of goods and services without fair and transparent regulations to ensure the proper functioning of the market and prevent anti-competitive practices, and without fair rules to guarantee access to investment and the preservation of quality standards and consequently of consumer rights'.

There is now a need to overcome the difficulties that could hinder the application of this agreement and to develop the logistical infrastructure, in particular, transport in all its modes in addition to strengthening the diplomatic and commercial presence in Africa and the easing of the financial system (financing and support by banks and insurance), Ben Hamza said.

Speaking at the conference, Chaouki Jaballi, Director of Cooperation with Africa at the Ministry of Trade, called the AfCFTA'a promising alternative' to redress the economic situation at the continental level in general and boost economic activity in Tunisia in particular.

8% growth in exports to Africa thanks to COMESA

'The recent integration of Tunisia into the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, called (COMESA) has improved its exports to Africa by 8% between 2019 and 2020, despite the delicate situation, marked by the spread of the pandemic and the closure of borders of countries, 'said Jaballi.

Tunisia, he recalled, ratified the AfCFTA agreement in July 2020. Technical work is currently underway to establish the lists of industrial, agricultural and craft products that will be traded with African countries.

In terms of cooperation, steps are being taken to ensure better coordination between the various economic actors (government and private), noted Amal Mghirbi, head of the 'Support for trade agreements with Africa' component of the German International Cooperation Agency (GIZ).

The objective is to successfully implement the agreement and fully exploit the opportunities offered by this new zone.

Tunisia was chosen by GIZ, among 7 pilot countries members of the African Union to benefit from a support programme for the implementation of the AfCFTA, the official said.

The aim of this programme is to strengthen the capacities of the representatives of Tunisia (Ministry of Trade) and other Tunisian parties involved in the implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement, from the negotiations to the implementation.

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