The regular exchange of business delegations between Qatar and Tunisia has placed both countries’ private sector at the forefront, and lauded for playing a significant role in enhancing economic and trade relations.
Only recently, the private sector’s role in developing Qatar-Tunisia trade relations was underscored by Tunisia’s Minister of Commerce Omar Behi, who announced a 250% growth in both countries’ trade exchange, owing to the Qatari-Tunisian Economic Forum, which was held in Doha last year. Qatar and Tunisia, by way of private sector leaders and organisations, reciprocated trade delegations and business meetings to discuss ways to seize investment opportunities from both countries.
On a G2G level, the same efforts, among other concerns, are to be observed even as Qatar will be participating in the preparatory meeting of the Arab foreign ministers for the 30th Arab Summit tomorrow at the headquarters of the General Secretariat of the Council of Arab Interior Ministers in Tunis.
In the past years, private sector leader Qatar Chamber had regularly hosted trade meetings with its Tunisian counterpart and other players in the North African country’s business community. In the agriculture sector, Tunisia as early as 2017 had invited Qatari investors to participate in its agriculture and aquaculture projects worth $200mn as part of efforts to build stronger trade and economic ties with Qatar.
In a meeting at Qatar Chamber, Abdelmoumen Toukabri, the general administrator of Tunisia’s Agricultural Investment Promotion Agency, said many Tunisian companies and businessmen are looking for Qatari partners to invest in big ticket projects particularly in Tunisia’s agricultural and fishing sector. During the meeting, Qatar Chamber vice chairman Mohamed bin Towar al-Kuwari held discussions with 45 private operators mostly in the field of agriculture.
Toukabri said many Tunisian food products can be developed and exported to Qatar, particularly olive oil, dates, fruits, vegetables, cultured and wild fish, tuna, chicken, and meat. He noted that there is a “huge potential” to develop air and maritime cargo routes between Tunisia and Qatar.
In a separate meeting, al-Kuwari announced that Qatari investments in Tunisia have surpassed the QR4bn mark in 2015, representing 13% of the country’s total foreign direct investments (FDI).
Al-Kuwari said Qatari investments, including direct investments in five basic projects, provided more than 120,000 jobs. He stressed that these investments ranked first in the Arab nation and second internationally in terms of the volume of FDI in Tunisia. He also said the volume of trade exchange between Qatar and Tunisia reached QR146mn in 2016.
In the field of tourism, Tunisia also wanted Qatari investors to participate in more than 10 major projects for the development of the North African country’s tourism industry, according to Selma Elloumi Rekik, Tunisia’s minister of Tourism and Handicrafts.
In a meeting with Qatar Chamber officials and member companies, Rekik said the country is diversifying its touristic products through various tourism-related projects, including two major projects with a combined value of more than $600mn.
In 2016, board member Mohamed Kooli of the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade, and Handicrafts said Tunisia is eyeing to raise a $2bn joint-investment fund with Qatar to be invested in a range of sectors, including food production and manufacturing. The fund was part of the proposals presented by a Tunisian delegation during the Qatari-Tunisian Business Council held in Doha.