The Manager Training Programme (MP) is continuing to expand. While Mexico became a partner country last year, a government declaration is to be signed with Tunisia in 2014.
“Tunisia is a land of the future”, declared Sigmar Gabriel, the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, on 19th June 2014 at the German-Tunisian Economic Forum in Berlin, which he opened along with the Tunisian Prime Minister Mehdi Jomâa. Approximately 220 representatives of business and government from both countries took part in this high-level event. Gabriel emphasised that “The dictatorship has been overthrown. The process of political and economic transformation is on track and, with the new constitution, Tunisia is moving in the direction of a peaceful and democratic transition. This new beginning can now also lead to a sense of economic optimism. Tunisia is not alone in its endeavour. German companies are reliable trade and investment partners.”
In 2013, representatives from the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) also travelled to Tunis to review the preconditions for implementing the MP and to promote the programme. In April of this year, a pilot group of 20 Tunisian executives from the upper and middle management levels came to Hamburg and Berlin for a four-week training course, which was organised by the training centre Cognos International on behalf of GIZ.
German-Tunisian Trade Relations
Economic relations between Germany and Tunisia are vigorous and future proof. Since the Tunisian revolution, both countries have shown a real interest and a great deal of initiative in further strengthening relations. The EU is Tunisia’s most important trading partner while France, Italy and Germany make up the largest share of imports, exports and direct investments. However, as a result of globalisation, China has made up a lot of ground and could knock Germany from its third place ranking.
The small North African state is interesting to Germany and the German economy for various reasons. Tunisia’s strengths lie in a diversified industrial structure, low production costs, its proximity to the European market and tax advantages for domestic export companies. Steps taken towards democracy, including a new constitution, are providing a significant stimulus to the weak economy.
By the end of the last century, the country had already acquired a good position in the region by supporting the private sector and integrating into the global economy. Opening up its economy brought solid growth to Tunisia and direct investments from abroad. The association signed with the EU in 1995 was a significant milestone. On the 19th November 2012, Tunisia was granted “Privileged Partnership” status with the EU. The aim of the new negotiations is to conclude a complete Free Trade Agreement with the EU (ALECA). Tunisia has enjoyed free trade with the EU for industrial products since 2008. Agricultural products and services, as well as air travel (“Open Skies”), are now to be included.
After a decrease of two per cent in its gross domestic product in 2011, the year of the revolution, the Tunisian economy managed to recover. However, growth levels (2012: 3.6%; 2013: 2.7%) are still far from what is needed to tackle high unemployment rates of 16-18 per cent. There is a need here for new investment from home and abroad and more political stability in the country is an essential prerequisite for investment. Although Tunisia is relatively low on raw materials, it still has its own oil and gas reserves. At the moment, these can still guarantee 40 per cent self-sufficiency but there is a downward trend. The exploitation of renewable energy, particularly wind and solar energy, still plays a subordinate role: the proportion of wind and solar energy in energy production currently only amounts to four per cent. However, a medium-term energy strategy aims for renewable energy to represent a 30 per cent share by 2030. Tunisia is the fourth-largest producer of phosphates and the third-largest olive oil exporter in the world.
The German-Tunisian trading volume reached 2.84 billion euros in 2013. German exports accounted for approximately 1.4 billion euros of this figure. German exports to Tunisia fell by 3.4% compared to the previous year and amounted to 1.35 billion euros. Exports primarily include fabrics, electronics, machines, cars, chemical products and foodstuffs. German imports from Tunisia increased by 3.8 per cent and totalled 1.49 billion euros in 2013; these included textiles, electro-technical components, car accessories (including cables), leather goods, crude oil, foodstuffs, fuels, lubricating oils and carpets. An investment promotion and protection treaty and a double taxation agreement are in place between Germany and Tunisia. (Source of information on economic relations: BMWi/AA)