SAVE THE DATE
Merry Christmas everyone and Happy New Year
AmCham Tunisia announces the holding of its Ordinary General Assembly on October 27th, 10 am @ Concorde Hotel Les Berges du Lac
The agenda is as follows:
– Presentation and adoption of the AmCham activity report.
– Presentation and adoption of the financial report.
– Appointment of a new Auditor
– Set the date of the Elective General Assembly
Presentation of GSP
U.S. trade preference programs such as the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) is the largest and oldest U.S. trade preference program. Established by the Trade Act of 1974, (this program aims to foster the integration of developing countries into the multilateral trading system and promote development through trade)
GSP promotes economic development by eliminating duties on thousands of products when imported from one of 119 designated beneficiary countries and territories.
US Tunisia trade key data
Tunisia is currently the 99th largest goods trading partner with $931 million in total (two way) goods trade during 2019.
Goods exports totaled $461 million
Goods imports totaled $470 million
The U.S. goods trade deficit with Tunisia was $9 million in 2019.
According to the US Department of Commerce, U.S. exports of goods to Tunisia supported an estimated 3 thousand jobs in the USA in 2015 (latest data available).
Top Export Category to the US
•U.S. goods export from Tunisia totaled $470 million in 2019 up 44.2% from 2009
•The top export categories
•electrical machinery ($102 million)
•animal or vegetable fats and oils -olive oil ($97 million)
•woven apparel ($58 million)
•machinery ($49 million)
•and edible fruit & nuts (date, fig) ($19 million)
Top 25 of GSP underutilized codes results in loss of $28 millions USD for Tunisia exporters
USTR data 2019
•About 20% of Tunisia companies eligible to a GSP privilege are not claiming or underutilizing GSP – mainly in the automotive – aeronautics
•About 80% of Tunisia exports under GSP are food related items. The quotas are nearly fully utilized (95%)
ADD HS codes
There is a large untapped potential in the automotive (electronics – cables, etc.)
(cf. ITC data –Trade DSM)
•Members requested for new HS: fruits / automotive / Dates Paste / Packaged Dates / Tuna and Sardines in olive oil / Tires / Galvanized tubes and coils / Electrical sub-assembly Cards Equipped with an Electronic Integrated Circuit (Smart Cards) / Printed circuits board / plastic parts / Aluminum box / Articles / sanitary ware / Ceramics / Floor tiles
Advocacy for GSP
Discussion with USTR
•Better understand how countries are evaluated and GSP reconducted
•Addendum of HS codes that can promote new sectors (cf. success story of arts and crafts)-
•also help Tunisia better integration since GSP represents only 32% of traded goods with US
•Technical assistance – capacity building programs (cosmetics – drugs)
Communication on GSP
•Discussion with private sector to increase awareness
•Modelization with international trade specialist to understand the impact of GSP on new sectors
•Consultation with agri-food sector to better understand needs related to GSP (Quotas, renewal, etc.)
Accelerating African Trade – The “Eco” of Liberalization
Africa, including the former French West African colonies, continues on promoting barrier free Pan African trade. Facilitating open trade and a common currency accelerates opportunities for the world’s fastest growing continent to prosper. Positive steps to increase African investment by releasing African reserves from the stewardship and use by French Treasury were announced this week by President Marcon. Simply put, as proposed, previously sequestered funds are now available for direct African investment. The proposed decommissioning of the French-linked West African CFA franc was also announced with the endorsement of the “Eco” as the replacement currency. One expected positive outcome of liberalization is continuation of promoting a common currency, opening pan -African trade and accelerating trade flows.
Africa Trade Alliances – The World’s Largest since the World Trade Organization
Parallel paths to promote African autonomy continue with regional trade alliances. Countering global trends towards nationalization, North Africa including Tunisia, increasingly unite as trade partners. The West African Economic and Monetary Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) minimize trade barriers and harmonize customs practices. English and French speaking Africa links formalized in March 2019 with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) – the world’s largest since the 1994 World Trade Organization. As perspective COMESA, similarly with its 21-nation membership serves 560 million people links Tunisia, Egypt and Madagascar improving the focus on Technology and Biotech developments.
Gateway into Global Markets – Tunisia
Boosting inter-regional and global trade frameworks is constructive of the continent. Unleashing Africa’s long-stymied economic potential strengthen supply chains and spread shared expertise is both aspirational and realistic. Increased Pan-African trade flows increasingly funneled into Europe and the United States from gateway countries like North Africa led by Tunisia, are irreversible. The Tunisian and other American Chamber of Commerce actions, guide export expansion, ratify opportunities for Pan African business and trade-linked profitably – gradually erasing the shadow of a colonial past.
AmCham continues its policy advocacy in alignment with national goals to promote energy independence. In a proactive engagement with key private and public stakeholders, AmCham initiated a series of informational and strategy sessions. Meetings held in May created an action-oriented agenda for the advanced 2019 Joint Economic Commission (JEC2) and “Door Knock” dialogue led by Mr. Naceur Hidoussi AmCham’s senior leaders and the American Congressional delegation in Washington, DC. A February 2020 update session chaired by AmCham Board Member Rym Bedoui Ayari will track progress from the Spring 2019 discussions in a dynamic industry implementation round table on both energy and climate change issues.
Promoting renewable and alternative energy solutions with an added focus on climate change, remains an AmCham priority. Tunisian increasing energy dependency is reflected in the INS Data below. AmCham continues to track the Government’s proactive agenda committed to in the Spring AmCham session designed to facilitate licensing for new alternative energy projects designed to accelerate the availably of new capacity. AmCham’s actions in securing these Government initiatives, align well with the Tunisian Energy Reform Plan. TAP/Banet (October 22) cited Tunisia’s Energy Reform Plan is essential to easing the country’s budget and trade balance constraints along with the removal of energy subsidies.
“An alternative energy project could be operational as soon as installation is complete”.
AmCham’s pre- Door Knock and JEC2 Advocacy and Government of Tunisia dialogue resulted in a commitment to the following action items:
- Ministries (Industry/Energy) will develop transparent online processes for both Investors and administrators in Alternative Energy projects
- Installation and operational time will be accelerated by more timely government oversight of required technical equipment installation
- Government oversight of the installation of the energy “ticker/counter” device essential to linking alternative power sources to the grid could be pre-approved with pre-ordered
Shifting Geo-Political Risks – Tunisian Energy Dependency (2010 -2019)
Babnet/Tap (Oct 22) reported in 2018, the total amount of subsidies exceeded 7% of the state budget, in addition to hydrocarbon imports which accounted for one-third of the trade deficit. AmCham notes Tunisian exposure to geo-political risks and related energy dependencies increased as illustrated below.
- Imports from the EU (Chart 1) have increased post-revolution reflecting decreased supply from the region (i.e. political/social volatility in Libya and a lesser extent Algeria)
- The EU, specifically Italy may source energy from region thus Tunisia’s Central Bank reserve positions are increasingly exposed to both USD and Euro depreciation/appreciation trends.
- Imports from the US have remained relatively stable
Overall regional bright spots and commitment to pan-African free trade agreements are expected to positively bolster Tunisia’s resiliency. International perspectives support an optimistic outlook for continued regional growth. Moody’s Inside Africa, (October 2019) cite Egypt’s rate cut and easing inflation as supporting bank revenue and economic growth. Recent actions by the Central Bank of Morocco, are also viewed by Moody’s as positive for the Moroccan banking sector and by implication, Moroccan ownership interests in the Tunisian financial sector.
Trade alliances for Tunisia, North Africa, and the continent are positively recognized by AmCham Tunisia, although remaining neutral on recent political developments. Fitch’s Africa Monitor (November Edition 2019), highlights Tunisia’s “challenging policy environment” post-election, coupled with a “stormier global environment”. For Africa generally, Fitch Solution reports strengthening of trade agreements including the May 2019 African Continental Free-Trade Area — the world’s largest free-trade zone. Economic and trade integration for Africa are expected to promote higher growth and create new investment opportunities. This is good news for the investment community. Tunisia trade and investment benefit from its entry into COMESA last year and, as announced at the September meeting, it’s proposed entry by year end 2019 to the COMESA Free Trade Area.