Despite its dubious human rights’ record, Tunisia's appeal to international corporations appears unharmed. Last year, the volume of foreign investment in Tunisia totaled $420 million, versus $650 in 1998. However, if privatization investments (roughly $310 million) are disregarded, then direct foreign investments in 1999 represent a 40 percent augmentation over the previous year's total. In May, British Gas (BG) announced that it was set to substantially expand its activities in Tunisia. BG will invest an additional $450 million over nine years in the Miskar gas field development and undertake further exploration activity in this Arab state.
Recent economic forecasts support the relative strength of Tunisia's economy. Its real GDP growth rate in 2000 is estimated at above 5 percent, in line with the robust annual average during the past ten years. Inflation has been held below 3.7 percent, a significant statistic considering that Tunisia is in the process of gradually implementing its free trade accord with the European Union.
Tunisia continues to benefit from the financial assistance it receives from the European Union, within the framework of the partnership accord signed back in 1995. Over the next nine years, Tunisia will gradually dismantle all trade barriers on imported EU-manufactured goods. The European Union is, however, compensating Tunisia for future losses of customs revenues.
© 2000 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)