From October 18th to 22nd, 2016, the international agricultural and technology fair SIAT (Salon de l'Investissements Agricole et de la Technologie) took place in Tunis. Tunisian agricultural companies and institutes showed the visitors their wares and this huge fair made clear that Tunisia has a lot to offer for foreign companies and investors. Not only with regard to agriculture, but also with regard to technology and innovation. Tunisia is, in short, interesting for three reasons:
A lot of unexploited potential
From fertile agricultural lands in the north-east, fishing and fish farming along the coast to the pomegranate and date trees in the south: Tunisia has a lot to offer. The basics are present, including the necessary infrastructure and supporting food processing industry, but the means often lack for Tunisian companies to increase their production or add additional value to their products. Examples of this are the potato farmer from the north-east who wants to expand his successful test project, or the company that has developed a biological plastic from waste and wants to produce this plastic commercially.
Young and educated population
Furthermore, Tunisia is as a country young and dynamic thanks to its young and educated population. More than 55% of the Tunisian population (11 million) is 35 years or younger. The various technical studies and the government supported education projects for employees facilitate finding qualified personnel in Tunisia. Moreover, the younger generation Tunisians are looking to innovate. This became clear from the many innovative projects, which were presented during the SIAT, from spraying and cutting drones to crowdsolving platforms. However, these Tunisian innovators are looking for cooperation with companies for the production or further development of their innovations.
Connected to the European market
More than 60% of the Tunisian trade is with the European Union, especially with France, Italy and Germany. Tunisia doesn't only trade a lot with the European Union because of its geographical proximity or its historic ties with France, but also because as a result of several trade agreements most of the trade barriers between these two markets have been eliminated. Business with Europe comes first and last in Tunisia. This is underlined by the fact that English becomes more and more common, replacing French as the business language. Sadly enough, not many European companies outside Germany, Italy and France are aware of this. Companies from these three countries were well represented at the fair.
In short, Tunisia offers a lot of opportunities for foreign companies thanks to its good basic facilities, young population and connection with the European market. However, don't wait too long as companies from other European countries are aware of these opportunities!