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Cablegate: Tunisia: Economic Highlights

VZCZCXYZ0004
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTU #0615 2371501
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 251501Z AUG 09
FM AMEMBASSY TUNIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6713
INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC PRIORITY
RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS TUNIS 000615

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EEB/CBA (WINSTEAD AND GILMAN) AND NEA/MAG
STATE PASS USTR (BURKHEAD) AND USAID (MCCLOUD)
USDOC FOR ITA/MAC/ONE (MASON), ADVOCACY CTR (TABINE), AND CLDP
(TEJTEL AND MCMANUS)
CASABLANCA FOR FCS (KITSON)
CAIRO FOR SPEAKS/O'DOWD
LONDON AND PARIS FOR NEA WATCHER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD EAGR TS
SUBJECT: TUNISIA: ECONOMIC HIGHLIGHTS

-------
Summary
-------

1. (U) This cable contains highlights of recent economic
developments in Tunisia on the following topics:

A. Tunisia Creates Consumer Agency
B. New, More Comprehensive IPR Law
C. Rain and Subsidies Result in a Strong Cereal Harvest
D. US $4 million Ecotourism Project in North-West Tunisia

-------------------------------
Tunisia Creates Consumer Agency
-------------------------------

2. (U) On August 7, the GOT announced the creation of the National
Consumer Institute. The Institute, an adaptation of a French agency
with the same name and mission, will work to improve consumers'
purchasing power, carry out market research, and conduct studies of
consumer behavior. It will also liaise with existing consumer
organizations. Its operations will be financed by the GOT,
supplemented by international donors and by proceeds from reports
and services. The GOT move to create an agency for consumers
reflects the growth of Tunisia's retail sector and Tunisians'
expanding appetite for consumer goods.

-------------------------------
New, More Comprehensive IPR Law
-------------------------------

3. (U) A new intellectual property rights law came into effect on
June 30 to update the existing 1994 statute. The new law provides
expanded legal protection for digital literary and artistic works,
drawings, designs and advertising slogans, and computer programs.
Copyright protections are extended to lifetime plus fifty years, up
from 25 years under the previous law. The Ministry of Commerce and
Handicrafts estimates that the market for pirated and counterfeited
products represents as much as eight percent of Tunisia's GDP. This
upgraded law, if fully implemented, should provide more tools to
fight IPR violations and improve Tunisia's investment climate.

--------------------------------------------- -
Spring Rains Result in a Strong Cereal Harvest
--------------------------------------------- -

4. (U) Thanks to abundant spring rains, Tunisia expects a strong
cereal harvest this year with total production estimates of 2.5
million metric tons (MT), based on actual collection figures of 1.1
million MT to date. Last year's harvest was only 1.2 million MT,
down from an average of 1.8 million MT in recent years. This year's
strong harvest will help maintain Tunisia's GDP growth. The GOT
recently liberalized imports of feed wheat and barley but tightly
controls imports of the soft and durum wheat varieties used for
bread, couscous, and pasta. This year's harvest is estimated to
cover 65 percent of domestic grain consumption, estimated at 2.7
million MT a year. On August 11 the GOT filled the gap with a
purchase of 117,000 MT of wheat sourced from the Black Sea region.


--------------------------------------------- ------
$4 million Ecotourism Project in North West Tunisia
--------------------------------------------- ------

5. (U) The Tunisian village of Beni M'tir, 80 miles west of Tunis
and home of Tunisia's warmest hot spring (163 degrees F), is the
site of a USD 4 million tourism investment project partially
financed by the European Union. The new spa, which will include
bungalows equipped with hot-spring Jacuzzis, will be both an
eco-tourism and health tourism destination (the hot springs are
supposed to treat rheumatism, skin problems, and other ailments).
Tunisia is seeking to diversify its tourism base away from
mass-market beach resorts toward niche sectors focusing on Tunisia's
ecological, cultural, and religious attractions.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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