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Cablegate: One U.S. Company's Investment Sheds Light On

VZCZCXYZ0001
PP RUEHWEB

DE RUEHTU #0023/01 0141615
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141615Z JAN 10
FM AMEMBASSY TUNIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7140
INFO RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

UNCLAS TUNIS 000023

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EEB/IFD/OMA, EEB/EPPD, AND NEA/MAG
USDOC FOR ITA/MAC/ONE (MASON)
CASABLANCA FOR FCS (KITSON)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON EFIN EINV ETRD TS
SUBJECT: ONE U.S. COMPANY'S INVESTMENT SHEDS LIGHT ON
MAGHREB INVESTMENT CLIMATE

Sensitive but unclassified; please protect accordingly.

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Summary
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1. (SBU) Vistaprint, an American graphic design and printing
company, inaugurated its offices in Tunis on January 13. Its
investment is a textbook example of the kind of investment
the GOT is seeking to target: a value-added, job-creating
enterprise which can transfer technology and know-how to
Tunisia. In attendance were senior Tunisian investment
officials and the Ambassador. The company, with presence in
North America, Europe, and Latin America, chose to invest in
Tunisia after a detailed study of investment climates in
Morocco and Tunisia. Ultimately, it chose Tunis as its
platform to provide customer support and remote graphic
design consulting services because Tunisia offered a more
educated and cheaper labor pool with a broader skill base.
Vistaprint's CEO and founder, Robert Keane, also noted there
was less competition with other large employers in Tunisia
for the available talent pool. End summary.

-------------------------
GOT Helpful on Investment
-------------------------

2. (SBU) Present at the January 13 opening were the head of
the Government of Tunisia's Foreign Investment Promotion
Agency (FIPA), Monghia Khemiri, Director General of Foreign
Investment at the Ministry of Development and International
Cooperation, Noureddine Zekri, and the Ambassador.
Vistaprint's executives enthusiastically lauded FIPA for
providing assistance in securing a lease on the property and
providing guidance on a host of issues from the initial days
of the project.

-----------------------
Vistaprint's Investment
-----------------------

3. (SBU) Vistaprint is a web-based printing and graphic
design service specializing in "mass customization." Their
business model is to deliver custom-designed, low-cost
printed products, even in small quantities. Most of their
customers are individuals or small businesses, totaling over
one million worldwide. The company's sales grew 30 percent
last year, and according to Radwen Tekaya, Vistaprint's
General Manager in Tunisia, the same is expected for 2010.
With 1,600 employees worldwide and sales in 120 countries,
Vistaprint conducts business in French, Italian, Spanish and
English.

4. (SBU) Vistaprint's initial investment in Tunisia was 1
million TND (approximately $770,000) with a view to employ up
to 65 people by the end of 2010 and then expand to over 100
employees. Its Tunisia office will provide customer and
graphic design support for Europe only, with a view to enter
the Tunisian printing services market in the future. A major
part of the decision to invest in Tunisia, according to
Keane, was the talented, multilingual labor pool. Since the
Tunisia office will be providing support to the European
market, employees have to be fluent in French and at least
one other language (Spanish or Italian) and speak some
English. During the visit, the Ambassador and Econoff
attended an in-progress training session, and most of the new
trainees identified themselves as recent college graduates.
(Note: this is the sector of Tunisian society with the
highest unemployment rate. End note.)

----------------------
Tunisia versus Morocco
----------------------

5. (SBU) According to Keane, Vistaprint had looked closely at
both Morocco and Tunisia before making the decision to
invest. It ultimately chose Tunisia because there was a
wider pool of talent from which to hire, the cost of the
talent was marginally lower, and because Vistaprint would
enjoy less competition from other multinationals looking to
hire from the same talent pool. Keane said the
infrastructure in Tunisia was good, and he had received a
warm welcome from the government upon his decision to invest.


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Comment
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6. (SBU) Vistaprint is a small example of a company which,
like many other investors, has weighed the investment climate
in Tunisia against others in the Maghreb. It sees Tunisia as
low-cost, high-talent platform to serve the European market.
Additionally, the GOT has welcomed this investment with open
arms, as Vistaprint targets the exact unemployed demographic
the GOT is most worried about: recent college graduates.
Vistaprint's investment is a textbook example of the kind of
investment the GOT is trying to target: a value-added,
job-creating enterprise which can transfer technology and
know-how to Tunisia. End Comment.
GRAY

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