Tunisia is a priority country of SECO’s economic cooperation and development. While Tunisia has made important steps towards a stable democracy, economic growth has remained subdued over the past few years, resulting in an increase in unemployment and a widening of regional disparities. SECO fosters sustainable and inclusive economic development in the frame of the Swiss Cooperation Strategy in Tunisia.
Following the Revolution in 2010/2011, Tunisia succeeded to adopt a new constitution followed by free and fair presidential and parliamentarian elections in 2014. For this successful democratic transition the Tunisian civil society was awarded with the Nobel Prize for Peace in 2015. Despite these positive trends, Tunisia faces several challenges regarding its economic development.
Barriers to positive economic development
The Tunisian economy features low productivity and competitiveness. As a result, only few jobs are created and unemployment is high, especially among young people. Regional disparities remain significant between wealthy coastal regions and the underdeveloped inland. Further challenges include corruption in the public sector, numerous obstacles to the expansion of private companies and investments, and security. Finally, Tunisia is affected as a transit country by migrants and refugees.
What are SECO’s objectives?
In Tunisia, Switzerland strives for sustainable peace and economic development that creates opportunities for all. The three domains of intervention of the Swiss cooperation are “Democratic processes and human rights”, “Inclusive economic growth and employment” and “Protection and migration”. SECO’s main focus is on:
- Public finances and business environment
SECO contributes to an improved business environment and public financial management. It does so by increasing the transparency and improving the governance of the public administration at national and local levels. Moreover, SECO strives for lean and efficient procedures in order to improve the framework conditions affecting businesses.
- Competitiveness, employment and income
SECO supports the Tunisian private sector by promoting the development of selected value chains as well as access to finance for enterprises. As such, SECO contributes to more and better jobs, increased competitiveness of the Tunisian economy and higher incomes for its citizens.
- Green basic infrastructure and servicesSECO improves basic infrastructure and services such as water supply, sanitation, waste treatment and transport in rural and urban areas. Thereby, SECO strives for eco-friendly and affordable facilities that benefit the whole population.
From 2017 to 2020, a total of some CHF 104 million is earmarked for the Swiss international cooperation with Tunisia, of which around CHF 55 million is from SECO. SECO, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), the Peace and Human Rights Division (PHRD) from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) jointly define and implement the Swiss Cooperation Strategy in Tunisia.