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Edouard Philippe announces doubling of French investments in Tunisia by 2022 [Upd 1]

Published the:  14/02/2019

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(TAP Special Correspondent Sofien Manai) - French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Thursday in Paris a doubling of French direct investment in Tunisia by 2022.

"France wants to double its investment in Tunisia by 2022," he said, recalling that the French Development Agency (AFD) has pledged to increase is funding to Tunisia for to an average of €250 million per year by 2022.

Edouard Philippe was speaking at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Youssef Chahed at the end of the second meeting of the Franco-Tunisian High Council for Co-operation.

This High Council follows the one held in Tunis during the visit by the French Prime Minister in October 2017.

The French Prime Minister has reaffirmed France’s support to the democratic process in Tunisia, with this year's legislative and presidential elections.

He said he had discussed with the Prime Minister ways to foster co-operation in the areas of security, the fight against terrorism, migration issues and economic issues.

Agreements have been signed in the areas of transport, health and higher education, he pointed out.

In addition, Edouard Philippe announced the creation shortly in Tunisia of a "Station T" inspired by the French experience (Station F) to better support Tunisian young entrepreneurs and startups.

For his part, Prime Minister Youssef Chahed stressed that the Tunisian-French co-operation is centered on four priority axes, mentioning in particular investment, regional development, education and culture.

Regarding terrorism, defence and security, the Prime Minister said that there are challenges common to both countries.

"Terrorism is a common threat that needs to be addressed together. We can still co-operate more in the exchange of information on common challenges that are terrorism and the return of foreign fighters," he pointed out.

Regarding education, higher education and vocational training, Chahed highlighted the forthcoming creation of the Franco-Tunisian University for Africa and the Mediterranean (UFTAM) which will be operational next September.

"UFTAM opens up very important prospects for the reinforcement of this co-operation; it is a very important achievement with co-graduations between Tunisian and French universities," he added.

The Prime Minister pointed out that 12,000 Tunisian students are present in France for a country which has 11 million inhabitants. He commended the University of Marseilles that has decided to exempt Tunisian students from the increase in registration fees.

On tourism, Chahed said eyes a million French tourists in 2019.

Some 781 thousand French had tourists visited Tunisia in 2018, up 37% compared to 2017.

Youssef Chahed added that France is still the largest investor in Tunisia with more than 1,400 companies and second largest economic partner with 14.3% of market share in 2018.

"France will clearly strengthen its position and probably earn the first place in terms of business,” he indicated.

Youssef Chahed had arrived on Wednesday in Paris on a three-day official visit, at the invitation of his counterpart Edouard Philippe.

He will be received at the Elysee Palace by French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday.