Tunisia tries to convince automakers to set up an assembly line, as the nation seeks investments in an attempt to curb unemployment.
“We are working to attract car manufacturers, we have done that with Volkswagen,” said Slim Besbes, adviser to the prime minister on investment, also identifying Toyota as a company that has been approached. “The obstacle is not the internal situation, it’s the international context that is not favorable to investments in this industry.”
Tunisia already manufactures components used by automakers in Europe and also has experience in producing buses. At the end of 2012 the unemployment rate fell to 16.6% from 18.9% in 2011 and foreign investment was up 75% last year, Qatar being the first among foreign investors. During the first quarter of this year foreign direct investment dropped 10% compared with 2012 due to the crisis casued by the assassination of Chokri Belaid in February.
In March, R.T. Wasan, head of Tata international business, said that the automaker plans to form joint ventures in Africa to sell its commercial vehicles here. Currently, the Indian automaker has an assembly plant in South Africa where it manufactures its commercial cars, but passenger vehicles, such as the Indica, are exported into this market.
“We have identified a few partners in Tunisia and Kenya,” said Wasan. “They will be assembling our small, light and medium commercial vehicles. We are evaluating the options for Nano as well.”