On October 13 2015, TAYP Founding Board Member Mariem Mezghenni Malouche spoke at the Atlantic Council to comment on the recent paper “Tunisia: The Last Arab Spring Country,” written by Karim Mezran and Mohsin Khan. The paper presents a concise story on what has happened in Tunisia since January 2011, on both the political and economic fronts. The authors end the paper by sounding the alarm about the importance of addressing economic reforms for Tunisia to remain a successful democratic and economic transition.
Mariem underscored the need for the government to first develop a vision for Tunisia’s economy. It would then be able to prioritize reforms and delineate a coordinated set of actions over time. Mariem also recognized the importance to create an environment that is amenable and open to making the necessary decisions that would be the Tunisian economy on a path of sustainable economic growth. Some reforms would entail losers, often well organized and vocal, and winners, often scattered and not structured. Currently, Tunisia suffers from a bloated administration, which has contributed to further limit the government’s ability to effectively implement much-needed reforms.
Towards the end of her presentation, Mariem discussed how Tunisia can engage in unilateral reforms and anchor them in free trade agreements such as with the United States. Tunisia can leverage these agreements and benefit from the associated technical assistance to implement its domestic reforms. There is also an opportunity for Tunisia to become a key economic player in the Mediterranean region. It could develop new, effective partnerships to leverage its strategic geographic location, its trading capacity, internal talent, and resources.
As Tunisia looks to begin its economic recovery, now is the time to adopt a Tunisia 2025 vision and to rally supporters. A richer dialogue about the necessary drivers of a more sustainable economic growth and productive job creation in Tunisia would help achieve this objective.