U.S., Tunisia Discuss Efforts to Re-energize Trade Growth
U.S. and Tunisian officials met in Tunis April 21 under a trade and investment framework agreement to seek “fresh approaches to get bilateral trade growing robustly again,” the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative reports. Two-way trade has tripled since 2000, reaching nearly $1 billion in 2016, but growth has tapered off in recent years.
According to a USTR press release, positive developments in U.S.-Tunisia trade relations have included the following.
- a significant reduction in time for Tunisian customs processing and Tunisia’s ratification of the World Trade Organization Trade Facilitation Agreement
- a three-day trade promotion program immediately preceding the TIFA meeting that updated Tunisian farmers and business owners on the Generalized System of Preferences, including its eligibility criteria and how Tunisian exporters can more effectively utilize the program (Tunisia was the 13th largest GSP supplier to the U.S. in 2016, with $114 million in GSP duty-free exports, and is a key U.S. trading partner for several products covered by GSP, including olive oil and dates)
- “considerable progress” on the Tunisian government’s economic reform program over the past year, including new laws on investment, the banking sector, competition and prices, and public-private partnerships
- cooperation in the fields of organic product certification, technology transfer, and capacity building
- technical assistance from the Department of Commerce’s Commercial Law Development Program in a number of areas, including public procurement, technology transfer, and foreign investment framework reform
- a recent agreement that will open the Tunisian market to U.S. bovine semen exports
- ongoing technical support by the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development, including the Business Reform and Competitiveness Project, which among other things has helped the Tunisian government reform its digital code to enable the development of a system for secured transactions that will greatly improve the ability of U.S. and Tunisian firms to do business with each other
- work by the State Department under the Middle East Partnership Initiative to set up a program to provide technical assistance to Tunisian artisans to facilitate their participation in international markets