DCFTA may undermine material foundation of nascent democracy in Tunisia (experts) | Tunisia News Gazette

DCFTA may undermine material foundation of nascent democracy in Tunisia (experts)

German and North African experts, including Tunisians, on Friday, stressed that European governments should not dictate a new Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) to Tunisia, which may undermine the material basis of the emerging democracy.

Speaking at a conference in Tunis to present a book on development through free trade by German Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Tunisian economist Sami Aouadi stressed that the most important challenge facing Tunisia today is the inability of the economy to position itself as a true partner.

“There is a flagrant asymmetry. The European giant is negotiating with the economic dwarf which is Tunisia, “he said.

According to Sami Aouadi, the current draft of the DCFTA in negotiation introduces real challenges for key sectors such as agriculture, several services and public procurement, on which European multinationals will now be able to compete with local producers who are hardly prepared and need a genuine qualitative and significant upgrade.

In this context, he stressed the urgency of implementing an active and real agricultural policy and supporting small farmers to move beyond the traditional and seasonal character of production towards more competitive and diversified agriculture, strong in terms of technical progress.

Tunisian economist Abdeljelil Bedoui said that before starting negotiations on the DCFTA, there is need to evaluate the partnership between Tunisia and the EU since 1995 and assess the new partnership project proposed by the EU, in addition to identifying the needs of the Tunisian economy and drawing up a new development model.

Summarizing the interventions contained in the book, German academic Werner Ruf stressed that the principles of free trade have already caused Tunisia to lose significant revenues.

These revenues are no longer available for infrastructure investments such as schools, universities, hospitals, etc.”, he cited as an example.

The speaker pointed out that six years later, “the underlying reasons for the Revolution of December 17, 2010- January 14, 2011 are still there and are even getting stronger”.

The economic and social situation, i.e. the living conditions of the majority of the population, have not improved much, particularly in the south and west of the country.

The middle classes are seeing their income stagnate while prices are rising. The mass of young people is without perspective. Qualification and studies often lead directly to unemployment.

Citizens’ demand for a dignified life proves to be impracticable under the neo-liberal regime,” he said.

“The consequence is the attractiveness of radical Salafism and jihad often offers a certain income”.

According to Werner Ruf and other economists quoted in the book presented, the fight against terrorism cannot be effective without the fight against poverty.

“The State must be able to serve the needs of citizens in order to make the concept of democracy credible,” he said, noting that this goal can only be achieved by strengthening the distribution capacities of the state “and not by a policy of privatisation, mainly for the benefit of foreign capital.

“If we really want to stabilise democracy in Tunisia, we must leave oxygen in our economy and we must create conditions so that household incomes guarantee a dignified life for citizens,” he concluded his presentation.

For his part, Khaled ChaAbane, representative of the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, stressed that the book development through free trade: the stakes of the neo-liberal agenda of the European Union for countries of North Africa, is the result Of the work of the international symposium organised in October 2015.

The 282-page book includes presentations by Tunisian, Moroccan, Algerian and German economists and academics during the symposium. It is published in English and French with an introduction in English and German.

Written by Gisela Baumgratz, Khaled ChaAbane and Werner Ruf, this book includes three chapters on the EU as an actor of a neoliberal economic policy in its external relations with the countries of North Africa, the critical perception of free trade agreements by Tunisian, Moroccan and Algerian researchers and development: alternatives to the neoliberal agenda.

Source: TAP news Agency

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