Tunis/Tunisia — The Chinese company Batou specialised in the industrialisation of locomotives and wagons intends to create a unit for the industrialisation of Chinese wagons in Tunisia, which will be then exported to Africa, said Batou representative in Tunisia Habib Laouini.
The company has since June filed a request for the creation of this unit, specified Ouini at a press conference on Tuesday, on the occasion of the arrival of 60 wagons from China, intended for grain transport.
The project is part of the public-private partnership (PPP), through the exploitation of the workshops of the National Society of Tunisian Railways (SNCFT), its upgrading and the training of its executives and staff, he continued.
The project consists in the creation of a unit for the industrialisation and export of locomotives to Africa, through the markets that the Chinese company Batou will win.
Laouini indicated that the Chinese company filed a request on March 28, 2018 to carry out a project to renew Tunisian rail networks, adding that negotiations with the stakeholders are underway and that the financing will be provided by the Chinese side.
The wagons will be used to transport grain on the lines Tunis-Bizerte, Tunis-Ghar Dimaou in Tunisia, said Minister Adviser to the Prime Minister in charge of Monitoring Projects and Public programmes Ridha Saidi, adding that "these wagons are manufactured according to international standards with a capacity of 50 tonnes."
He specified that the acquisition transaction had been carried out through an international call for tenders launched by the SNCFT at the cost of 12 million dinars (MD), with the aim of improving grain conditions and preserving their quality.
He emphasized the importance of strengthening economic and trade cooperation between Tunisia and China, indicating that several Chinese companies had expressed willingness to carry out several infrastructure projects in Tunisia, such as the Bizerte Bridge and the deep-water port at Enfidha, etc.
Similarly, Chinese companies operating in household appliances have expressed willingness to set up in Tunisia to conquer African markets south of the Tunisian Sahara.
The minister pointed to the worsening of the trade deficit with China to 2.6 billion dinars at the end of the 1st quarter of 2018, saying, in this regard, that the signing of a memorandum of understanding by virtue of which Tunisia has adhered to the "Silk Road" initiative will have a positive impact on trade development and attraction of Chinese investors.
Representative of the Chinese Embassy in Tunis Li Ping-Hi called on the Tunisian side to better introduce the business climate in Tunisia in particular the new law on investment to the Chinese investors.
He said, in this regard, that the embassy will also endeavour to attract Chinese investors and carry out joint projects.