Entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tunisia: BUSINESSMED and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung join forces for economic recovery in the South Mediterranean region
Organized on the 11th of October 2021 jointly by BUSINESSMED and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung Regional Program South Mediterranean, the workshop on post-COVID-19 economic recovery in the Southern Mediterranean region, brought together leading experts working in the region to provide an overview of the resilience to the crisis from a sectoral perspective and the implications for business as well as the latest recovery reforms and regional efforts deployed since the onset of the pandemic for better regional integration.
The business ecosystem in Tunisia has been facing important difficulties for several years and the COVID crisis has only accentuated these difficulties for companies in all sectors. Despite all the efforts provided by the Tunisian government for economic recovery, the figures of trade and investment do not manage to take off and this is not only in Tunisia but in most countries of the Mediterranean region.
It is in order to try to bring some concrete proposals to improve this situation that BUSINESSMED and KAS have decided to organize this expert workshop. The interventions dressed an overview on the current economic and geopolitical situation in the South Med region and gave an insight on the latest recovery reforms as well as the ongoing efforts deployed by the international and regional business agencies since the pandemic outbreak.
At the opening of the workshop, Mrs Jihen Boutiba General Secretary of BUSINESSMED said: “This experts’ workshop stems from a partnership that both organizations are setting up for the development of the Southern Neighbourhood region and that was initiated in 2016 when KAS and BUSINESSMED were piloting one of the first initiatives to boost women leadership in decision-making positions.”
“In line with the renewed partnership with the Southern Neighbourhood, and the joint communication of the EC, BUSINESSMED is determined to improve the business climate and attract investment while addressing long-standing structural problems such as unemployment, in particular youth unemployment,” she added.
Mrs Jihen Boutiba indicated that “if we are to succeed, private sector participation and the mobilization of small and medium-sized enterprises are essential, underlining, “that in the longer term, the economic recovery of the South Neighbourhood region will depend on the resolution of regional conflicts, the political ability to reduce fiscal deficits and public debt, a continuation of structural, institutional, and social reforms, and finding a constructive response to the increasing democratic aspirations of MENA societies…The Mediterranean is the bridge between Europe and Africa, the future is blending.”
In turn, Mr. Thomas Volk, Director of the Regional Program Political Dialogue South Mediterranean of the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung welcomed the new collaboration with BUSINESMED saying that: “it is very interesting that the EU in its news strategy toward the Mediterranean emphasised and underlined the importance of a people-centred approach”, placing emphasis on the need to look what “the population of the southern Mediterranean are in need of, and they are in need of a job … so that’s the key priority in the region.
Mr. Thomas Volk underlined the obligation” to do something to promote job creation and there are so many other challenges that must be tackled like regional trade that is one of the lowest in the MENA region and actions has to be taken.
He noted that “We must look to bigger markets and how to create investment in the southern Mediterranean, how to support MSMEs, and how to create joint ventures and to let the Mediterranean region be flourished by the help of Southern and Northern Mediterranean partners”.
The meeting ended with a summary of the main conclusions of the constructive exchanges and relevant proposals made by the various speakers and experts. The recommendations will be further developed under a policy paper for effective economic recovery in the MENA region, with a specific focus on the current and possible reforms and regional relevant collaboration frameworks.