Hungary and Tunisia strengthen economic ties, sign cooperation agreement

The Budapest Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BKIK) and its counterpart in Tunis signed a cooperation agreement at a Hungarian-Tunisian business forum in Budapest. The deal covers cooperation in agriculture, the food industry, infrastructure development, water management, renewable energy, IT and construction.

BKIK chief Zoltán Kiss said at the forum organised by the BKIK and the foreign ministry that the new Budapest-Tunis agreement will provide a framework for members of the BKIK and Budapest-based companies to pursue business opportunities with Tunisian partners. Citing data from the Central Statistical Office (KSH), Kiss noted that trade turnover between Hungary and Tunisia came to 148 million dollars last year.  The value of exports came to 96 million dollars while imports totalled 50 million dollars.

The Hungarian government is working hard to strengthen economic ties between the two countries, foreign ministry state secretary Levente Magyar said at the forum. Magyar noted that Hungary and Tunisia celebrate a triple anniversary in 2016, as the year marks the 60th anniversary of Tunisia’s independence, Hungary’s anti-Soviet uprising and the establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries. He said that the tourism sector served as one of the key pillars of economic cooperation between Hungary and Tunisia. Therefore, in order to ensure that bilateral tourism cooperation can continue to develop, Hungary, as a friendly gesture, had left the security rating for Tunisia unchanged, in the second category after a terrorist attack there in June 2015.

On the sidelines of the business forum, Tunisian Foreign Minister Khemaies Jhinaoui  also held talks with his Hungarian counterpart. Considering that Tunisia has the most stable political system in its region, it is a basic interest of the European Union and Hungary that Tunisia should preserve its political and economic stability, Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said after the meeting. The pressure of migration on Europe will dramatically increase if Tunisia’s stability is seriously challenged in the future, Szijjártó said. As a result, Hungary will always remain a primary supporter of increased cooperation between the EU and Tunisia, he added.

Concerning economic cooperation, Péter Szijjártó highlighted opportunities in water management and farming, and noted an increasing turnover of bilateral trade. He also said that Hungary’s Eximbank had opened a credit line of 67 million dollars to provide loans aimed at promoting economic cooperation. Hungary supports that the EU should ensure financial support for Tunisia until 2020, and urged that the EU should conclude its free trade agreement with that country as early as possible.

Khemaies Jhinaoui said the two countries can cooperate in many areas and Tunisia would like to utilise the experiences that Hungary gained in the past 26 years. Bilateral ties call for a new impetus, he said, and added that the Tunisian prime minister could soon visit Budapest. The Tunisian minister also said that his country was working to prevent terrorist actions and was “as safe as any other country”. Jhinaoui expressed his gratitude to the Hungarian government for its efforts in aiding his country’s tourism sector and urged further steps to boost bilateral tourism ties.



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