FTDES calls on Tunisian state to assess Association Agreement with EU (statement) | Tunisia News Gazette

FTDES calls on Tunisian state to assess Association Agreement with EU (statement)

The Tunisian Forum for Economic and Social Rights (FTDES) calls in a statement released Thursday, the Tunisian state to conduct a thorough assessment of the consequences for the Tunisian people of the Association Agreement with the EU, compared to objectives set, in terms of the consequences for economic, social and environmental rights, and taking into account social and territorial inequalities.

Ten years ago, the FTDES recalls, on 1 January 2008, came into force the Free Trade Area (FTA) between Tunisia and the European Union. In implementation of the 1995 Association Agreement, the abolition of customs duties on all European manufactured goods entering Tunisia was completed.

The forum underlines in this statement the imperative to recognise the consequences of this policy on the country whereas no complete evaluation of the Association Agreement has been carried out so far.

In this regard, the FTDES indicates in particular that the unemployment rate has not decreased and has exploded for young graduates. The Tunisian economy has specialised in low value-added activities.

The growth of the economy did not exceed the 5% ceiling and the FTA did not have a significant impact on exports to the EU but significantly increased imports, so the trade balance deteriorated sharply.

Similarly, foreign investments have focused on the coast, aggravating territorial inequalities, under an offshore regime to repatriate profits in Europe.

The European Union has been urging Tunisia since 2015 to negotiate a new Free Trade Agreement, the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA). This DCFTA would cover all sectors of the economy, including agriculture, energy or services, which are key sectors of the Tunisian economy. However, the latter, especially agriculture, do not seem to be able to cope with European productivity, which is seven times higher in the case of massively subsidised agriculture.

Such openness, regrets the Forum, would push Tunisia to specialise in export products, and to be totally dependent on European imports. This could mean many job losses in Tunisia, while unemployment is a major problem in the country. Especially since the opening of Tunisian markets to foreign companies will not be subject to the obligation to recruit staff locally, to support the local industrial fabric, or to transfer technologies.

The agreement, the statement added, would also give more rights to foreign companies, conditioning the future of the Tunisian public policies to the protection of their investments, to the detriment of public health measures, environmental protection or social well-being.

Negotiations do not include facilitating the free movement of people, including workers, while it is both a fundamental and indispensable right to ensure opportunities for Tunisians in Europe, the Forum said in the statement.

According to the FTDES, the DCFTA project represents a risk for the economic and social situation in Tunisia, for the rights of Tunisian citizens and for the sovereignty of the country.

On this occasion, the Forum calls on civil society and the Tunisian people to demand a thorough evaluation of the Association Agreement and to mobilise against the EU-proposed draft of the DCFTA, the statement said.

Source: TAP News Agency

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