Tunisia is banking on the Russian market in order to increase its exports. Many government and private institutions are seeking to boost the Tunisian presence in the promising Russian market.
To emphasize the interest in the Russian market, the capital Tunis hosted a workshop to study the potential to export to Russia, the most important features of the Russian market, and the economic sectors and activities that can offer opportunities for Tunisians.
In this context, Monya al-Saidi, head of the Confederation of Tunisian Citizen Enterprises (CONECT), which organized the workshop, called for learning about the power of Tunisian products in invading the Russian market and for promoting exports of more national products there.
Saidi asserted that the Russian market is open to many important Tunisian economic sectors, including food, mechanics, construction, health and medicine, along with some traditional industries.
A direct shipping lane has been linking Sfax city in Tunisia with Novorossiysk port in Russia on the Black Sea. Operation in this port kicked off in November in order to develop the trade exchange between the two countries and to diversify the products exported to Russia.
Aziza Hatira, general director of the state Center for the Promotion of Exports (CEPEX), pointed out that the trade exchange between Tunisia and Russia is unbalanced. Trade transactions in 2014 hit nearly one million Tunisian dinar (approximately $400 million) towards Russia versus 45 million Tunisian dinar ($18 million) towards Tunisia.
The Tunisian exports to Russia include dates (36 percent), vegetables (13 percent), while exports of olive oil did not exceed 5 percent. The Russian markets also featured some other Tunisian products such as fabrics, leathers, grains and fish.
Hatira said the shipping lane linking Tunisia and Russia will contribute in reducing this unbalance. She also noted that Russia ranks six among Tunisia’s suppliers and provides it with many products, including wood, paper, and steel alloys, while food products exceed 80 percent of Tunisia’s exports to Russia.
The Tunisian Navigation Company offered many privileges for the Tunisian companies aiming to export their product to Russia, including the reduction of shipping costs and shortening of the duration of shipping flights.
In January, the CEPEX decided to reduce the export of oranges and other agricultural products like potatoes, and tomatoes through the Sfax- Novorossiysk line by 33 percent at the request of the government’s Inter-Professional Fruit Group.
The CEPEX also provided annual credits between 400,000 and 500,000 Tunisian dinar ($160,000 and $200,000) as part of the direct support aiming to reach new markets and reduce the dependency on the Europe.