Magazine article New African

We Have an Active Policy of Economic Diplomacy in Africa

Magazine article New African

We Have an Active Policy of Economic Diplomacy in Africa

Article excerpt

Africa derives its name from the great Carthaginian empire with its roots in modern-day Tunisia. On attaining independence from the French in 1956, Tunisia's first president, Habib Bourguiba, played a leading role in supporting African countries in their quest for political and economic independence. Understanding the importance of international alliances, that same year Bourguiba set up the diplomatic corps which this year celebrates its 60th anniversary. There have been many geopolitical shifts since, and today the emphasis is on strengthening economic relationships, especially as Tunisia aims to diversify its trading partners and kickstart an economy that has suffered from the economic downturn in Europe, as well as from the impact of instability in Libya. As Foreign Minister, Khemaies Jhinaoui, explains in this in-depth interview, 'economic diplomacy' has become a national priority. Tunisian companies have in general been shy to look outside of their borders, but the minister is positive that the country has a lot to offer partners, especially south of the Sahara.

Tunisia is celebrating 60 years of diplomacy. How do you plan to renew and modernise a diplomatic programme that has lost influence and dynamism over recent years?

We are addressing the task of renewing and revitalising our country's external influence in the light of the ongoing democratic process, the major developmental challenges that must be met, and the changes that are happening on a regional and international scale. All this is in accordance with the principles and underlying values of Tunisian diplomacy, which have enabled our country to be heard and respected.

Yes, our country celebrated the 60th anniversary of the creation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on 3 May 2016. The date marks a milestone in the history of Tunisia as an independent country, in view of the significant contribution made by the diplomatic service to promoting the visibility of the country around the world, intensifying and diversifying its international relations, and mobilising outside support for its drive to develop the country.

Our main objective is to now redefine the top priority missions assigned to our diplomatic service and ensure that it has the institutional and human resources necessary to make the Ministry of Foreign Affairs a more effective tool. It needs to be action-oriented and adopt a results-driven culture.

How have you prepared yourselves to implement a policy of economic diplomacy?

Since its creation, the Tunisian diplomatic service has played a crucial role in the process of developing the country through the promotion and diversification of its bilateral and multilateral cooperation agreements and growing the economic attractiveness of Tunisia internationally.

Our country has formed a dense and varied network of partners for economic cooperation from numerous countries belonging to four continents. The government has clearly demonstrated that economic diplomacy is one of its priorities. We intend to breathe new life into the cooperation arrangements we have with all our partners and take them to a new level, as witnessed* by the prime minister's visit to Cote d'Ivoire in April.

There is no doubt that Tunisia's economic development is contingent upon better international results. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which has a relatively well developed diplomatic network around the world, is making a decisive contribution.

What does this mean in practice?

Our diplomatic service continually works to provide effective responses to the most pressing needs, and to preserve and reinforce our international position, whether in terms of seeking out new markets and supporting Tunisian firms looking for new partners, or of attracting foreign investment in key sectors and creating jobs.

It also provides support for the preparation and coordination of various economic and commercial events--international fairs, specialised forums, industrial missions, roadshows. …

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