Launch of new shipping line likely to rebalance Tunisia’s foreign trade: official

The launch of a new shipping line between Tunisia and China will help Tunisia recover its regional positioning and enhance China’s presence in African continent, Tunisian authorities and locally-based foreign investors said Friday.

The Spanish company Transglory has just inaugurated a new maritime trade line linking Tunisian Rades port and Chinese Qingdao port in the northern suburbs of the capital Tunis.

“Importing and exporting to and from this Chinese destination are consolidating similar services from other leading ports,” Louis Florensa, chief of Transglory Development Department told Xinhua during an interview.

“Our main challenge, now fulfilled, is to be the preferential partner of Tunisian importers, with four weekly services from Hong Kong, Ningbo and two others in Shanghai,” said the chief.

He insisted that Chinese market is being traced, saying “this is the moment to prove that we are able to meet its demands even better than ever before and that’s why we are launching this new direct grouping service.”

Khaled Ben Abdallah, the director of foreign trade department at Tunisian Ministry of Industry and Trade, believes the launch of this new line could generate a triangular trade platform linking China, East Africa and Tunisia.

He said this line should converge all kinds of services, including health, tourism, equipment and information and communication technologies.

Tunisia has been trying to keep its African position despite its worsening trade deficit. By the end of October this year, Tunisia’s trade deficit rose to 13.21 billion dinars (about 5.32 billion U.S. dollars), from 10.78 billion dinars during the same period in 2016, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INS) of Tunisia.

Imports reached 40.85 billion dinars, but exports were 27.64 billion dinars, according to Tunisia INS.

The trade deficit was mainly resulted from trade with some partners of Tunisia, as China, Italy and Turkey took up almost half of the deficit. With China, the deficit is 3.64 billion dinars, according to the INS of Tunisia.

“In the first ten months of this year, we have seen a worsening of the trade deficit with China of about 486.8 million dinars,” said Abdallah.

With adequate logistics that can link Tunisia and China economically, Abdallah believes this shipping line between the two countries could flow in the heart of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, which will give access to a certain co-action of Tunisia in its African dimension.

“Political stability, security and a long-term strategy are already there to augur a successful future between Tunisia and China in trade and global economic partnership,” Abdallah stressed.



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