Following Tunisia’s extraordinary democratic transition, the United States remains committed to helping the Tunisian people expand their economy so the entire country can prosper. Last November, Secretary of State John Kerry launched the United States-Tunisia Joint Economic Commission, a mechanism to support Tunisia’s economic reform priorities and encourage private sector ties that would benefit both countries.
Speaking at the Commission’s first meeting on May 6th, Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Catherine Novelli, the Commission’s co-chair, said that the group is concentrating on three areas: finding new opportunities in the agriculture and food sector, strengthening small and medium-sized enterprises, and growing the Information and Communications Technology sector.
Thus the United States will help Tunisian farmers and food producers find U.S. partners and increase bilateral trade opportunities. We will also provide targeted training and technical support to facilitate high-potential exports.
Small and Medium-sized Enterprises are the lifeblood of economic growth in Tunisia, comprising over 80 percent of Tunisia’s economy. Yet Tunisian entrepreneurs face a complex process for registering a business.Many lack access to credit. These are systemic barriers to economic growth and job creation. We will therefore work with our partners to simplify the process for starting a business.
And finally, the United States will help the Government of Tunisia to reach is goal of connecting every Tunisian school to the Internet by 2017, and all Tunisians by 2020.
“The Joint Economic Commission is about building Tunisian partnerships with U.S. firms and finding tangible ways to unlock the potential that already exists in the Tunisian economy,” said Under Secretary Novelli. “We have a tremendous opportunity to expand our economic relationship and bring our countries closer together, creating jobs in Tunisia and the United States.”