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United States and Tunisia Discuss New Approaches to Foster Trade and Investment

Officials from the United States and Tunisia met in Tunis on March 27 to explore steps to stimulate trade and investment between themselves and with other partners in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. At yesterday’s meeting of the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council, the governments built on the efforts of bilateral working groups formed last autumn when they re-launched the TIFA process. Talks focused on strategies to bolster bilateral trade and investment ties, to strengthen business confidence and in particular to enable small and medium sized enterprises to find new business opportunities in U.S., Tunisian and other regional markets.

“I am very pleased that we came out of this meeting in agreement on practical steps to significantly advance the work we committed to in the fall,” said Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for Europe and the Middle East L. Daniel Mullaney, who chaired the U.S. delegation of USTR and Department of Commerce officials. “Tunisia clearly has the intent, in the wake of the 2011 revolution, to usher in a new era of free markets and broad-base economic opportunity; the United States wants to be a key partner in helping Tunisia achieve its goals.”

Tunisian Foreign Ministry Director General for the Americas and Asia, Faysal Gouia, chaired the Tunisian delegation, which comprised representatives of a wide range of ministries involved in trade and investment affairs.

Background

The United States and Tunisia signed a bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in 2002. The TIFA is designed to give the parties a platform for discussing a wide range of trade and investment issues. The Trade and Investment Council serves as the joint steering group for discussions under the TIFA.

Tunisia 2011 was the United States 103rd largest goods trading partner. Bilateral trade in goods reached $938 million, with U.S. exports to Tunisia totaling $586 million (top categories were oils, grain seeds, fruit and machinery), and imports from Tunisia of nearly $325 million (top categories were olive oil, apparel, and electrical machinery).