Tunisia: ‘Tunisia 2020’ forum to revive growth hopes to kick off

Over 2,000 delegates are expected to attend “Tunisia 2020” forum Tuesday dedicated to drum up investments to the North African country unable to fulfil hopes of millions of youth who spearheaded the 2011 democratic revolution.
France and Qatar are the main backers of the initiative expected to the attract $30 billion to cover 142 projects.
French Premier Manuel Valls and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani have arrived and will address the gathering during the opening ceremony alongside Tunisian President Caid Essebsi.
40 countries are present at the two-day event in capital Tunis.
The North African country has been embroiled in economic instability that is threatening its vibrant democracy. Public expenditure has drastically skyrocketed against a GDP taking downwards trend, leaving the country to depend on foreign assistance.
Unemployment has reached record high 15 per cent. Youth situation has worsened compared to prior revolution situation. Thousands of them have been radicalised and joined terrorist organisations.
500 companies have left companies since 2011 in the backdrop of increasing security challenges. The three terrorist attacks bearing the marks of the Islamic State group (IS) hit the country last year causing loss of 71 lives, most of whom foreign tourists.
New foreign investment fell to 2 billion dinars ($885 million) in 2015 from 3.5 billion dinars in 2010, reports say.
Prime Minister Youssef Chahed taking office late August warned that the country could go bankrupt if reforms do not ensue.
In a bid to attract foreign investment Chahed’s cabinet has proposed new investment laws by “reducing bureaucracy, taxes on profits, and restrictions on transferring funds out of the country.”
The forum will also see in attendance Werner Hoyer, Head of the European Bank of Investment, Abdellatif Al Hamad, Head of the Arab Social and Economic Development Fund, Roberto Azevedo, Head of World Trade Organisation.
Tunisia will benefit five investment pledges from European Bank of Investment. Reaching a tally of 500 million euros, the investments will go into youth, children and education projects as well the construction of Bizerte bridge, huffpostmaghreb.com reports.
Valls is leading strong French delegation. Around 250 diversified French entrepreneurs are accompanying French Premier.
France is the first economic partner and investor in the North African country. 1,300 French companies are established in Tunisia and employ around 135,000 people.
China is also represented by the Tunisia-China chamber of commerce. China Railways is eyeing transport projects. Three investment corporation of Ningxia province have also booked their presence, reports say.

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