Gammarth — The Second Tunisia Investment Forum (TIF 2012), in its post-Revolutionary version, opened, on Thursday in Gammarth.
More than 1,580 participants from 36 countries are expected to attend this international economic gathering organised, on June 14-15, on the theme "New Tunisia Facing Future Challenges and Opportunities"
TIF 2012 is a large-scale communication action to strengthen Tunisia's image as an investment site and make known to international promoters and decision-makers the investment opportunities and Tunisia's business climate.
The aim is also to increase, from now till the end of the year, the foreign direct investments (FDIs) to 2,400 million Tunisian dinars (MTD), against 1,711 MTD in 2011 (-29.2% as compared with 2010).
Opening the Forum, Investment and International Co-operation Minister Riadh Bettaieb asserted that "the Tunisian economy has shown signs of recovery and that various indicators related to investment have improved," which evidences, according to him, the confidence placed by foreign investors in the Tunisia site.
The FDIs reached, he specified, during the first five months of 2012, 890 MTD, against 632 MTD during the same period of 2011, i.e., a rise of 41%. Compared with the first five months of 2010, this rise is of about 12.5%.
Up to late May 2012, 62 new enterprises have been created, including 37 companies operating in the sector of manufacturing industries and the remainder in the services.
One hundred and fifteen enterprises already implanted in Tunisia have been extended, including 93 operating in the industrial field.
Mr. Bettaieb said that the Government is planning to elaborate an "investment map" to identify the opportunities in the country's different regions, as well as create a national structure for investment, single interlocutor whose mission will be to co-ordinate among the various stakeholders and economic operators.
The minister pointed out that a specific portal for investment will be created and it will post all data and make known the services provided by the support structures. "This will make businessmen's and investors' task much easier and help them achieve their projects in optimum conditions."
Mr. Bernardino Leon, European Union (EU) Special Envoy for the Southern Mediterranean Region, reasserted the trust the EU places in Tunisia, a country which has demonstrated its capacity to face up to the difficult situation which it is going through on the path of democratic transition.
The European official added that Tunisia has become a reference in the southern Mediterranean region and other regions of the world, stressing that the EU supports the Tunisian democracy and that it does not allow anyone to threaten the country's transition process.
According to Mr. Leon, the EU believes in the success of democracy in the Arab and Muslim world. He announced the start of a new round of negotiations between Tunisia and the EU to renew the agreement concluded between the two sides, which would ease movement of persons, notably Tunisian businessmen in the European countries.
For his part, Mr. Abdel-Rahman Taha, Director-General of Export Credit for Insurance and Investment Co-operation, a subsidiary of Islamic Development Bank (IDB), reiterated IDB's readiness to support economic and social development in Tunisia.
He also voiced satisfaction at the interest the Tunisian government lends to Islamic financing.
U.S. Under-Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment Robert D. Hormats reiterated the American commitment to help Tunisia and support its economic reform.
"We strongly support Tunisia by means of technical assistance, encouragement of investment, job creation, etc."
American businessmen had, he asserted, expressed in the past their anxiety about the absence of business transparency in Tunisia, adding that investment code that the government is planning to review would help the American investors to think, sincerely, about investing in the country.
For his part, Mr. Rintaro Tamaki, Deputy Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), said that his organisation plans to help Tunisia through its reform programme and pledges to invest in development.