Tunisian President Dr Moncef al-Marzouki said yesterday his country was now “ready and fit “ to receive large scale investments from Qatar.
“We want a win-win relationship between Qatar and Tunisia,” the Tunisian leader said on the sidelines of a business luncheon held in his honour by the Qatari Businessmen Association (QBA).
“I’m quite sure we are going to have improved relations between the two countries. [Already,] I think we have improved it.”
He said rampant corruption in Tunisia was the main reason for other countries, including Qatar, for not investing heavily in Tunisia, earlier.
“You know, Tunisia had been a corrupted state. This was why the level of investment was not that high. But now, with our government, [which is] free of corruption, I think boosting investments in the country would be extremely important for Qatar,” he said.
The Tunisian president said now was the time for improved bilateral trade between the two countries. “What we want is a win-win relationship, and I believe this will be possible now,” he said.
Earlier, during his business luncheon meeting with the Qatari businessmen, President Marzouki praised HH the Emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, who, he said had supported the Tunisian people and consistently provided financial and logistical support to Tunisia during the past two years.
Economic relations between the two countries also witnessed significant improvement as a result of signing of a large number of bilateral agreements, which resulted in a new law for the protection of foreign investments in the country.
Dr Marzouki welcomed Qatari investments in all economic sectors, including tourism, services and industry. He said Tunisia was seeking, under its good investment climate, foreign investments to provide more possible employment opportunities.
Tunisia is currently facing a huge challenge due to the high rate of unemployment, especially among university graduates, where there was an increase of 17%.
QBA chairman Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani welcomed the president and expressed the desire of the Qatari business community to open bridges of communication and strengthen economic ties between the two countries.
Sheikh Faisal believed that Tunisia had a privileged geographical position that attracts major international companies, especially because of its proximity to major European markets.
The volume of trade exchanges between Tunisia and Europe accounted for about 80% of the total trade, and is based on Tunisian exports of textiles, electrical, mechanical and food products (olive oil and dates).
Tunisia is also considered an excellent tourist destination, where it attracts about seven million tourists yearly, mostly from Europe and neighboring countries.
The meeting also provided a platform for talks about the economic climate and investment incentives in both the countries, that encourage foreign investments and joint business relationships.
The Tunisian president was accompanied by his delegation, which consisted of Minister of foreign affairs Osman Jerandi, minister of education and a number of consultants and government officials, in addition to Ambassador of Qatar in Tunisia Nasser Hamidi and Tunisian Ambassador in Qatar Mohammed Munther Zarif, and the official representative of Tunisia in the Arab League.
Apart from QBA chairman Sheikh Faisal, chairman Qatar Chamber Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohammed al-Thani, first deputy chairman QBA Hussein Alfardan, second deputy chairman QBA Dr Sheikh Khalid bin Thani al-Thani and other senior members of QBA, including Sherida Saad Jubran Kaabi, Dr Hussein al-Abdullah, Nabil Abu Issa, Maqbool Habib Khalfan, Abdul Hamid Mostafawi, Seraj al-Baker, Khalid Mannai, Mohamed Gohar, Huda Hobbi and Sarah Abdullah attended the meeting.
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