On Wednesday 28 September 2016, the Tunisian British Chamber of Commerce organized a breakfast debate entitled “The Investment Environment, Challenges and Opportunities” with Mr. Fadhel Abdelkafi, Minister of Development, Investment and International Cooperation, and HE Hamish Cowell, Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Tunisia This event, which was the first public debate of the Minister since he had taken office, was also an important opportunity for the many participating companies and guests to listen to the Minister and to discuss with him in an open and direct manner the various topical subjects such as the investment environment, the new investment code, the economic emergency law, Tunisia 2020 investment Conference, and Tunisian-British business relations. The minister made a realistic presentation of the country’s situation, a difficult situation that seriously eroded the socio-economic climate in Tunisia. However, Minister Fadhel Abdelkefi also insisted on the need to focus on positive energies and on the fact that everyone has a role to play in creating the momentum needed towards economic recovery, recalling the importance of cohesion between Government, social partners, and the private sector. In his speech, Mr. Fadhel Abdelkefi stated that the government is working to reduce unemployment and poverty, restore public finances and boost investment. On this last point, the institutional framework for investment will be significantly improved with the new investment code, which allows the investor to have a single contact to deal with all his requests. He expressed his confidence in the preparations of the International Investment Conference on 29 and 30 November 2016 and invited all members of the Chamber and all economic actors to contribute to its success. The Ambassador of Great Britain reiterated his country’s commitment to support Tunisia at all levels and to work closely with the Government and the TBCC to reduce barriers to the respective Business communities and to promote investment. He confirmed in this regard the need to quickly implement the new investment code.
Mehdi Ben Abdallah, President of the TBCC, insisted on the need to best attract more foreign investment by taking concrete actions that will require courage. He recalled that the Tunisian British Chamber of Commerce will be close to the government and its British and Tunisian partners meet the future project’s challenges. Mr. Ben Abdallah also made several recommendations to the Minister and the Ambassador, including: – Lift the restriction imposed on the British to travel to Tunisia before November conference – Facilitate the Visa procedures for the United Kingdom – Create an active British-Tunisian Chamber of Commerce based in the United Kingdom – Making the Brexit an opportunity for the development of the British Tunisian commercial and economic bilateral relations – Focusing on existing investments and ensure that they are adequately protected in social, commercial and security terms To ensure that British companies in Tunisia are the first ambassadors of Tunisia to their counterparts in the United Kingdom. – Accelerate the reform of the administration to facilitate the “doing business in Tunisia” -Accelerate the implementation of the convertibility of the dinar whose long-term benefits will certainly be greater than the short term risks – Accelerate and strengthen the work to develop bridges and relationships with Africa in order to attract interest to the modest size of the Tunisian market