Tunisian Minister of Investments, Riyad Beltayeb
The Tunisian Minister of Investments, Riyad Beltayeb, has indicated that addressing the social and economic problems is the main target of the transitional government in Tunisia
In an interview with Arabstoday, Beltayeb was up-beat about the country's economy saying that 100 days after his government took control, "we are happy to see some signs of improvement on the economic side, the labour protests have decreased by 80 per cent and the general production process is moving forward. Investment demands have risen by 80 per cent this year in comparison with 2011, which is considered a huge improvement. Meanwhile, direct foreign investments have risen by 2 per cent in comparison to 2010 and 35 per cent in comparison to 2011. As for the industrial sector particularly, the investments have risen by 4.3 per cent in comparison to 2010, and by 72 per cent in comparison to 2011."
The minister talked about the results of several visits by Arab businessmen to Tunisia and was encouraged that they seem positive about investing in the country stating that some of them are looking for "specific opportunities for investment here, while we have already launched a shipping company in partnership with a Saudi business delegation. This company will establish a shipping line between Tunisia and the Arab Gulf countries, and that will encourage the growth of Tunisian agricultural exports there".
Beltayeb put described a glossy image of the investment climate and opportunities in his country following the uprising of 2011. "Tunisia should be more attractive now for foreign investors. We have became free of the massive corruption practiced by the former regime, which turned away many investors from risking their money here. At the same time, we are paying full attention to the economic potential of this country in the most effective way. We are working on new laws that will guarantee protection for serious investments: we are also trying to improve our transportation network, and we hope to activate coordination between other Arab countries".
Beltayeb emphasised the necessity of expanding the intra-regional trade between Arab countries, cautioning that the current Arab figures are poor compared to EU figures, which indicate that the intra-European trade is representing more than 65 per cent of the general trading activity in Europe, while the ratio between the Western Arab countries doesn't exceed 3 per cent."
The minister said that his government is giving priority to Tunisia's participation in the reconstruction process in Libya, and that both countries are working on dual agreements which will facilitate the Tunisian business community to contribute in rebuilding the Libyan economy.
When asked about the 400 Tunisian businessmen who are under a travel ban due to corruption cases related to the former regime, Beltayeb answered, "We are aware that many people were extorted by Ben Ali's regime. We are hoping to address this issue by following the Transitional Justice law, which enable them to pay financial compensation in order to lift the judicial sanctions imposed on them."