Time to engage with Tunisia

Published 2 June 2015 in:

In the driver’s seat. State Secretrary Erik Bromander, Ambassador Fredrik Florén, Tunisian State Secretary Amel Azzouz with delegations hosted by Autoliv’s Vice-President Thomas Jönsson at the production site in El Fahs.

Tunis, 3 June. Sweden and Tunisia are organising a Sustainable Infrastructure Forum in Tunis on 2–3 June, as a follow-up to Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström’s official visit in February, marking a new era in Swedish-Tunisian relations. The forum brings together Tunisian and Swedish companies providing products and solutions related to infrastructure and transport. Infrastructure is a key area as Tunisia consolidates democracy.

Tunisia’s transition to democracy is indeed a success story. Four years ago, the Tunisians wanted change, dignity and democracy, and they achieved this by peaceful means. Last year, Tunisia adopted a modern constitution and organised free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections.

Many challenges remain. The major task ahead will lie in the consolidation of the democratic progress. Economic development is one of the keys to success and to meeting increasing demands from the public. A priority of the new government is to bring about the economic integration of isolated regions, thus emphasizing infrastructure.

This morning, State Secretary Erik Bromander, Ambassador Fredrik Florén and Tunisian State Secretary Amel Azzouz will open the Forum. Business representatives and civil servants will have a full day of discussions focusing on efficiency and sustainability in the railway sector, road planning safety and urban mobility. Corporate social responsibility (CSR), legal reform and combating corruption are also on the agenda of the visiting delegation.

Foreign Minister Margot Wallström in her talks with Foreign Minister Taieb Baccouche and ambassador Fredrik Florén (left) in February,

Foreign Minister Margot Wallström in her talks with Foreign Minister Taieb Baccouche and ambassador Fredrik Florén (left) in February,

Swedish companies have a long history in this Mediterranean country, and they currently employ more than 5 000 Tunisians. Yesterday, the delegation visited the global leader in car safety, Autoliv, which saves thousands of lives every year. At its Tunisian facilities, 2 300 employees produce steering wheels for all major car brands on the European market.

Telecom giant Ericsson, present in Tunisia since 1964, provides the Tunisian infrastructure and transport sector with ICT solutions. Oriflame offers a business platform and financial empowerment for thousands of Tunisian women. Autoliv, Ericsson and Oriflame are just three examples of Swedish-Tunisian cooperation generating socio-economic development in both countries.

Today’s gathering, with Sweco International and Volvo Construction Equipment just to mention two of the participating companies, represents an opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences. It is also an important step towards broadening cooperation between Sweden and Tunisia in the fields of transport and infrastructure, creating a favourable climate for new initiatives in the area of trade and investment.

From a wider perspective, the forum could be seen as an expression of Swedish support for the consolidation of democracy in Tunisia. Sharing history and values, we want to be partners as Tunisia continues to inspire.