The former Tunisian Minister of Trade, Mohamed Msilini said that the “trade between Tunisia and Libya was more fluid before the Turkish encroachment on the Libyan markets.”
In press statements, Msilini added that the “Turkish advance led to a decrease in the volume of trade exchanges between the two countries. It is time for Tunisia to restore its position in the Libyan neighbourhood,” he added.
Msilini pointed out that the establishment of an economic free zone between the two countries “may be a lifeline for hundreds of families who rely on border trade.” He added that it is a solution for the Tunisian state that is looking towards, to stop the smuggling.
The former minister explained that this zone will contribute to attracting investments, and limiting smuggling and black market trading.
He stressed the need for Tunisia to “intensify intra-trade with border countries, especially Libya, in a way that facilitates the flow of goods between the two countries.” He pointed out that “official institutions, whether Tunisian or Libyan, do not have accurate statistics on smuggling rates between the two countries.”
Libya is politically torn between Fathi Bashagha, who was elected by the Libyan Parliament to lead the country in February, and Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba, who refuses to relinquish power.
Tensions have been rising for months as the two Prime Ministers vie for power; rising fears of renewed conflict two years after a landmark truce.
In the other side, Tunisia has been mired in a severe economic crisis that was exacerbated by the repercussions of the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition to a spike in energy importing costs resulting from the Russian-Ukrainian war.
Tunisia’s Ministry of Economy and Planning announced that the European Union will disburse a total of €100 million ($100 million) to the Tunisian government to support the country’s budget.
The European grant will support the government measures aimed at mitigating the repercussions of the pandemic, as well as the overall economic activity. Last week, the funding was granted in an official meeting held in Tunisia.