On the eve of a two-day visit to Tunisia (April 10-11), Lord Mayor of the City of London Andrew Parmley Sunday underlined the “importance we attach to strengthening the already-solid ties between the two countries” in a context of transition for Tunisia and post-Brexit for the UK.
“Tunisia is perhaps the smallest country in North Africa, but I think it has a leading role to play in the economic development of the region. It is a key partner for the UK in North Africa and I will be there to reaffirm the strong economic ties that bind the two countries and explore new ways for closer cooperation.
In my capacity as Lord Mayor of the City of London, I travel around the world as an ambassador for the UK financial and professional services to look for ways for the City of London, the world’s leading financial centre, to develop closer links with international partners,” he further told TAP.
Supporting the development of the financial sector in Tunisia
“When I took office, visiting the dynamic and growing economies of North Africa was a primary objective for I believe there are many mutually beneficial opportunities for growth and development. This is the second Tunisia trip by a Lord Mayor in three years,” he indicated.
“Before arriving, I was aware of the ambition of the Tunisian government to convert Tunis into a regional centre for excellence in financial services and I fully support this aspiration for I see first-hand how a thriving financial centre can bring prosperity to a whole generation.
When I meet with government officials, I will certainly discuss with them the way the City of London can best support the development of Tunisia’s financial sector,” Parmley highlighted.
Tunisia also set the target of making its capital a world-class technical and digital centre; London is now one of the world’s largest centres for financial technology, or Fintech, with more people in the sector than in Silicon Valley.
Mobile banking services will be the future of the sector and as a world-leading financial centre we focus on financial inclusion. I believe we can work closely on mobile and digital payments.”
Cooperating for the development of Islamic finance
Islamic finance is a new area of activity that boosts growth in the world financial services and a new financial market with a value of assets estimated at $2 billion; an annual 20% growth rate is expected in the next decade. The UK is the main western centre for Islamic finance teaching with over 70 institutions providing Islamic finance courses and 22 universities offering diplomas.
As a teacher, I strongly believe that these courses will help train a new generation of finance experts who will buttress London status as the islamic finance hub in the western world.
I am also aware, as a teacher, that education is the best way to stimulate economic growth; this is why I will focus on ways to develop the training we provide at the City of London to Tunisian stock brokers by means of endowing them with the skills needed to work abroad; the purpose being to provide a solid national financial service offer that helps talented Tunisians receive training abroad and get a quality job once back home. In this vein, I will offer a Mansion House scholarship to a promising Tunisian student who seeks to pursue his studies in the UK to get a business degree.”
“I am in Tunisia because we believe in the City of London in the growth potential of Islamic finance and the Fintech in Tunis in both a national and a regional context. I think this will help draw investment, boost international trade and transform the country into an international financial centre, one that we strongly support.”
As we embark on the Brexit, it is now more vital than ever to bolster our trade relations across the globe with such valuable partners as Tunisia. The UK has always been a global trading nation as reflected in the City of London, the world’s largest financial centre.
I think that with the support of the Financial Services Group of the City of London, Tunisia can achieve significant growth which benefits will reach all citizens. I am keen to see the country achieve continued economic development in the years to come,” Parmley said.