Creation of Russian-Tunisian Business Council

On March 23, 2006, the ceremony of the signature of an Agreement to form a Russian-Tunisian Business Council was held in the RF CCI, followed by a working meeting of the newly-created Council’s Russian part with representatives of Tunisian companies which participated in the event styled as Days of Russian-Tunisian Friendship (held on March 23-26, 2006).

The ceremony of signing the Agreement was attended by President of the RF CCI, Ye.Primakov, RABC Chairman and Chairman of the Board of Directors of SISTEMA, V.Yevtushenkov, Director of the RF CCI Department for Foreign relations, A.Rossius, RABC Director and Adviser to RF CCI President, T.Gvilava, Deputy Director of the Department for Middle East and Northern Africa at the RF Ministry of Foreign Affairs, A.Polyakov, on the Russian side, and the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Tunisia to Moscow, M.Bellaji, Minister of Tourism of the Republic of Tunisia, T.Haddad, Vice-President of UTICA ( Commercial, Industrial and Trade Union of Tunisia), M.Sahraui, as well as heads of companies and businessmen, members of the Russian-Tunisian Business Council.

The RF CCI President, Ye.Primakov, welcomed the Attendees in his address, noting that the ceremony had been preceded by a meting of Tunisian delegates in the course of which an exchange of views took place where the sides re-affirmed their willingness to further develop their relations.

Ye.Primakov emphasized the significance of the Russian-Tunisian Council and noted that the CCI is instrumental in promoting business cooperation by synthesizing the interests of respective business communities. Ye.Primakov reminded the participants that the RABC had been formed to boost entrepreneurial contacts between Russia and the Arab world and it did boost these relations, which in turn made it imperative to establish separate bilateral councils with each specific Arab country. He further expressed confidence that the creation of a RTBC will give a new impetus to economic ties in nearest future.

Tunisian Minister of Tourism, Tijani Haddad, thanked the Russian side for their decision to form a Business Council within the framework of the days of Russian-Tunisian Friendship ( held on March 23-26, 2006) as well as during the festivities on the occasion of Independence, which the Republic had won 50 years ago. The Minister emphasized that the Tunisian Republic’s achievements have been very impressive over that period: they succeeded in building a powerful economy, developing culture and education, legal equality for women. But – what matters the most – “investment” has been made in human resources, the result of which are already seen, Mr. Haddad said. Tracing back the roots of Russian-Tunisian relations, the Minister reminded that they date back to 1917, when Russian political émigrés found their refuge in Bizerte. To conclude his speech, the Minister noted that political interaction always rests on an economic basis, whose primary objective is people’s wellbeing. “We hope that the initiative of creating a RTBC will be a “new brick” of Russian-Tunisian relations”, he further said.

In his address, the RABC Chairman, V.Yevtushenkov, commended the enormous amount of work done by the RABC in establishing bilateral business councils. As many as ten councils are currently operating within the framework of the RABC, namely – the Russian-Egyptian BC, the Russian-Lebanese Bilateral Committees, the Russian-Syrian BC. The Russian-Jordanian BC, the Russian-Saudi BC, the Russian-Omani BC, the Russian- Sudanese BC, the Russian-Yemeni BC and the Russian-Algerian BC.

The RTBC has thus become the tenth business council among those recently established.

The RABC Chairman further noted that the work done by the Council resulted in the Arab world “coming nearer” to Russia, as well as in a series of promising business projects and in the proposal to open a Russian-Arab Business House in Moscow.

Mr.Yevtushenkov stressed that the RABC would do its best to enable Russian and Tunisian entrepreneurs to built up their presence in their counterpart’ marketplaces, and not only in the sector of tourism.

Vice-President of UTICA, Mr.Sahraui, stated that despite friendly relations prevailing both between our two countries and the business world, the turnover of goods was still below the desirable level over 600 foreign companies are to be currently working in Tunisia. Mr.Sahraui informed the audience that his country had signed an Agreement with a series of African countries, which makes it easier for Tunisian commodities to move about the African continent. He further stated that the investment climate in his country was very favorable, and Tunisia was very interested in the promotion of investment cooperation both in Russia and Tunisia.

Deputy Director of the Department for Middle East and African Countries at the RF Foreign Ministry, A.Polyakov, stated that the formation of the RTBC- would be a “new link” in the promotion of Russian-Tunisian relations. Re said that a key role in the establishment of business contacts was being played by the RF CCI and the RABC. According to him, Russia’s strategical partnership with Arab countries was deepening and Russian business relations with that region were taking on a new configuration.

Mr.Polyakov ended his address in congratulating his Tunisian colleagues on their national holiday, the 50-th anniversary of Tunisian Independence, and expressed his hope that cooperation between Russia and Tunisia will be given a fresh impulse.

The Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Tunisian Republic to Moscow, Mr. Bellaji, stressed that the development of economic cooperation serves as a basic for building up relations between our countries in other spheres as well.

The Agreement to form a RTBC was signed by Chairman of the RABC, Chairman of the Board of Directors with SISTEMA, V.Yevtushenkov, on the Russia side, and Vice-President UTICA, Mr.Sahraui.

The Session’s first part was followed by a working meting of the Council’s Russian part with representatives of Tunisian companies participating of Tunisian companies participating in the Days of Russian-Tunisian Friendship event. The meeting featured mutual presentations of Russian and Tunisian companies interested in the establishment of business contacts.

Following the meeting, the Tunisian side invited their Russian counterparts to visit Tunisia in order to find potential partners.