Tunisian initiatives to relaunch trade with sub-Saharan African countries have multiplied in recent weeks.
The Export Promotion Center (Cepex) has just announced on its website that the 2th edition of the Tunisian-African business meetings “Tunisia Africa Business Meetings”, on 6 and 7 December 2022, in the capital Tunis, with the participation of over 100 buyers from 20 sub-Saharan African countries in many promising sectors including agri-food, mechanical and electrical industries, textiles and clothing, the pharmaceutical industry, alongside the construction materials and public works sectors, the chemical industry, health services, ICT, training and education , business services (finance, consulting, etc.).
In addition to a plenary session, B2B meetings, workshops and company visits are in particular on the agenda of this important Tunisian-African economic event.
Another initiative broadcast by the African and specialized media, the Tunisian state, through the Export Risk Guarantee Fund (FGRE), decided, with the decree on public procurement last October, to bear 50% of the insurance premiums relating to insurance contracts for exports to sub-Saharan African countries, according to the presidential decree published in October.
In this regard, commenting on this measure, the economic expert Fayçal Derbal told the media that he had responded to the call of many economists to support exports and conquer African markets, before noting that exports to Sub-Saharan Africa are very low and represent only 2.7% of Tunisia’s total exports to the African continent (counting the Maghreb countries and Egypt, this rate reaches 10%).
The same expert explained that Tunisian exports to Libya exceed those to 48 African countries, noting that the 50% support only applies to goods. He suggested his extension to services, as well as the establishment of incentives to support the export of goods and services.
According to Cepex data, and despite the actual extent of the subsidies in promoting economic activities, a large number of subsidy applications were observed at the level of FOPRODEX (Export Promotion Fund).
On the promotional side, an important conference was organized last August as part of Tunisian-French cooperation on the internationalization of Tunisian companies in African markets.
Meanwhile, two digital tools have recently been launched by CEPEX to promote Tunisian exports, particularly to African countries.
One of these tools, called “Export Potential Map Tunisia”, the result of Tunisian-German cooperation, is part of the second phase of the project entitled “Promotion of Export Activities to New Markets in Sub-Saharan Africa”, and aims to explore diversification opportunities. for Tunisian exports.
The other tool, called “MACMAP”, should make it possible to understand the conditions of access to the market, to identify customs tariffs, tariff quotas, trade remedies, regulatory requirements and preferential regimes applicable to products.
Studies and press reports, referring to administrative data, report that electric wires and electric cables are the main products exported to Africa with a share of 44%. Then comes the dates, the diapers, the building materials and the pasta. For imports, gas and oil represent almost two thirds of the products imported from African countries.
But the road to Africa had already been marked by Tunisia’s accession to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) in 2019 but also and above all to the African Continental Free Trade Area (Zlecaf) in 2020.
The main condition for success remains, the removal of the barriers that hinder the ambitious access of Tunisian exports to African markets, namely the lack of air and sea connections, the weakness of diplomatic representations and the lack of banking support.