BY MOHAMMAD SHOEB
DOHA: The corrupt regime of ousted President, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, was the main reason for low levels of Qatari investment in Tunisia, says the country’s visiting President Dr Mohamed Moncef Marzouki.
The new government in Tunisia, the epicentre of ‘Arab Spring’, is now committed to further improving relationship with Qatar, he told The Peninsula yesterday.
Speaking on the sidelines of a luncheon hosted in his honour by the Qatari Businessmen’s Association (QBA), Marzouki said Qatar was a very important country, and Tunisia was looking forward to Qatari investments and expertise to play a significant role in the mutual growth and development for a “win-win relationship”.
“We have very very good relationships with Qatar. And we are trying to improve it further because Qatar is a very good and friendly country, especially in matters of public affairs. We need Qatari investment and expertise, and I am quite sure that we are going to improve this relationship in the days to come,” said the President.
Asked about the current status of Qatar-Tunisia trade relations, he said: “Relatively it is low, and I think we need to improve it. Because earlier Tunisia was a corrupt state so the level of investment was not very high. But now with the new government in Tunisia, which he claimed was free of corruption, the investment would be extremely important for Qatar as well as Tunisia.
In December, 2010, during the fourth session of Qatar-Tunisia Joint Higher Committee, 14 agreements were signed for cooperation between the two countries. Trade and investment between Qatar and Tunisia have witnessed a significant improvement since.
The President was here to participate in the recently concluded Arab League Summit. His delegation included Osman Jerandi, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tunisian Minister of Education, and a number of consultants and government officials in addition to the Ambassador of Qatar to Tunisia, Nasser Hamidi, the Tunisian Ambassador to Qatar, Mohammed Munther Zarif including the official representatives of Tunisia at the Arab League.
The luncheon was presided over by Sheikh Faisal bin Qassim Al Thani, Chairman of QBA, and Sheikh Khalifa bin Jassim bin Mohammed Al Thani, Chairman of Qatar Chamber, and in the presence of Hussein Alfardan, First Deputy Chairman of QBA, Dr Sheikh Khalid bin Thani Al Thani, Second Deputy Chairman of QBA, Sherida Saad Jubran Kaabi board member, and other distinguished guests.
They exchanged ideas expressing the desire of the Qatari business community to open bridges of communication and strengthen economic ties between the two countries, in order to discuss ways of enhancing trade cooperation and investment between the Qatari businessmen and their Tunisian counterparts.
Sheikh Faisal said that Tunisia had a privileged geographical position that attracts major international companies, especially due to its geographical proximity to major European markets.