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Cablegate: Tunisia: U.S. Trade Delegation's Successful Visit

VZCZCXRO8288
PP RUEHTRO
DE RUEHTU #0134/01 0501635
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 191635Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY TUNIS
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7320
INFO RUCNMGH/MAGHREB COLLECTIVE
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 TUNIS 000134

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EEB 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)

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRN EINV TS
SUBJECT: TUNISIA: U.S. TRADE DELEGATION'S SUCCESSFUL VISIT

This cable is sensitive but unclassified; please protect
accordingly.

This message contains sensitive company proprietary
information; please protect accordingly.

-------------------
Summary and Comment
-------------------

1. (SBU) A U.S. business delegation of eight companies
visited Tunisia February 14-16 before the Department of
Commerce-led Executive Trade Mission to Algeria and Libya.
Prominent U.S. firms, including Raytheon, Boeing, and
Motorola, were among those in the group. The delegates met
with ministers and other high-level GOT officials in multiple
ministries, held business-to-business meetings with over 50
Tunisian companies, and met with officials at the African
Development Bank. The delegates reported their meetings as
useful, with some companies looking to set up in Tunisia as a
platform for business in the Maghreb and others focusing
solely on the Tunisian market. At least four companies are
set to come back to Tunisia to continue dialogue, finalize
deals, or sign partnership agreements as a result of their
meetings during this visit. Unfortunately, we received the
participant list from the Department of Commerce only four
weeks before the trip date, meaning at least four other
companies who told us they were interested in Tunisia decided
they were unable to join the delegation due to lack of
advance notice. With 74 American companies already
established in Tunisia, plus Lockheed Martin's February 16
signing for the sale of two C-130Js to the Ministry of
Defense, the climate is ripe for further U.S. commercial
engagement with Tunisia.

2. (SBU) The U.S. trade mission to Tunisia represented a
valuable opportunity to demonstrate the potential for further
U.S.-Tunisia trade and investment. The GOT rolled out a red
carpet for these companies and was eager to showcase Tunisia
as an investment destination. The Tunisian private sector
was likewise keen on partnering with U.S. firms. With a
sizeable number of U.S. companies already operating here,
plus Tunisia's strategic geographic location as a platform
for both the Maghreb and Europe, it is clear that
opportunities for U.S. business in Tunisia exist. We were
pleased to be able to host the eight companies that traveled
to Tunisia, and stand ready to host future delegations. Had
Tunisia had been included in the Executive Trade Mission from
the start, as the Embassy repeatedly requested, it would have
allowed all 24 delegates to explore opportunities here for a
relatively low additional cost. It should always be our
mission, especially now in view of President Obama's recently
launched National Export Initiative, to expose companies to
additional markets fertile to U.S. exports. End summary and
comment.

--------------------------
Overview of the Delegation
--------------------------

3. (SBU) A U.S. trade delegation, composed of eight companies
in the telecom, defense, construction, energy, and aviation
sectors, visited Tunisia on February 14-16 as an extra stop
in conjunction with the Department of Commerce-led Executive
Trade Mission to Algeria and Libya. The eight companies were
Raytheon (Defense, Renewable Energy, and Port Security),
Motorola (Telecom), Boeing (Aviation), TJJA Architects
(Architecture), Hill International (Construction Management),
Wall Ties and Forms (Concrete Forms), CMF Distribution (Pipes
and Valves), and Capstone Turbine (Turbines for Energy).
During their time in Tunisia, the delegates met with
high-level Government of Tunisia officials, had
business-to-business meetings with over 50 Tunisian
companies, and liaised with officials from the African
Development Bank. They also had a chance to meet with
executives from the 74 U.S. companies currently based in
Tunisia, and dozens of Tunisian private sector and government
leaders, at an evening reception hosted by the Ambassador.
There was positive coverage of the visit in the Tunisian
press, in part thanks to the delegates' willingness to do
one-on-one media interviews.

4. (SBU) Overall, delegates reported the visit to be very
useful. Some companies, such as Raytheon and Motorola, came
to Tunisia primarily for reconnaissance and familiarization,

TUNIS 00000134 002 OF 003


but actually came away with some real possibilities for
business (see paragraphs five and six). Others, such as CMF
Distribution, will reportedly make a sale thanks to a meeting
arranged by the Embassy. A clear trend with many of the
participants was their inclination to look to Tunisia as an
ideal base to serve the Maghreb market, as well as the nearby
EU. At least three of the companies are planning follow-up
visits to Tunisia later in the year to explore opportunities
garnered during the delegation's visit.

----------------
A GOT Red Carpet
----------------

5. (SBU) Although many meetings were not confirmed until 24
hours before the visit, the GOT came through with a series of
high-level meetings for the delegation. The entire group met
with Minister of Development and International Cooperation
Mohamed Jouini, who identified information technology (IT),
manufacturing, aeronautics, health care, and skills platforms
as key areas in the Tunisian development strategy. In
addition, the GOT arranged meetings with Minister of
Communication Technologies Mohamed Ammar, the Ministry of
Defense, the Ministry of Industry and Technology's official
in charge of renewable energy, the Ministry of
Transportation's Director of Civil Aviation, and the Ministry
of Public Works, Housing, and Land Management. It also
facilitated one-on-one company meetings with senior leaders
of the state-owned electricity utility, Societe Tunisienne
d'Electricite et du Gaz (STEG), the Tunisian Ports Authority
(OMMP), the national water distribution utility (SONEDE) and
the national sanitation utility (ONAS). All companies also
had a chance to meet with the Ministry of Development and
International Cooperation's Foreign Investment Promotion
Agency.

--------------------
Handshakes and Deals
--------------------

6. (SBU) By virtue of her extended visit (February 12
arrival), Marleine Davis, Director for Middle East and North
Africa for Government Relations for Motorola, was able to
canvas the IT/Telecom sector thoroughly, which led her to
report she would recommend a sales and technical team return
to Tunisia for follow-on discussions. Davis met with the CEO
of the state-owned mobile and fixed telephony company,
Tunisie Telecom (TT), and its main private competitor,
Tunisiana. TT and Motorola discussed the potential sale of
3G, 4G, and Wimax technology as well as Motorola's solution
for multivendor optimization, a system that TT could use to
streamline their management of technical subcontractors. She
noted the meetings with the Ministry of Communications were
most useful, as the Ministry took her on an extensive visit
of the El Ghazala technopole and also arranged meetings with
senior representatives of the Tunisian Postal Service.
Motorola also saw potential in the Ministry of Defense's need
for mission-critical communications systems, either through
Foreign Military Financing (FMF) or Foreign Military Sales
(FMS). Davis said she would look first to sales in Tunisia,
but down the line to possible partnership and research and
development opportunities.

7. (SBU) Raytheon, represented by Kevin Massengill, Regional
Executive for the MENA Region, and Jim Piner, Regional
Manager for North Africa and the Levant, found potential in
the renewable energy, port security, and cyber-security
sectors and may look to Tunisia to set up a manufacturing
center for component parts. Based on their meeting with the
Ministry of Industry and Technology (MOIT), Massengill said
they would follow up on a potential sale of wind tunnel
technology as part of Tunisia's plan to have over 15 percent
of energy from renewable sources by 2016. During the meeting
with OMMP (the national Ports Authority), Piner learned that
a tender for Vessel Traffic and Maritime Systems (VTMS) for
six Tunisian ports plus the entire coastline, which had never
been published in order to fold it into a bilateral agreement
between the Italians and the Tunisians, was not moving
forward as planned. The OMMP's director for port security
said the purchase, to be financed with a 20 million Euro line
of credit for port security upgrades, had been stalled since
2007 and OMMP was looking for alternatives. Piner said he
would study the VTMS project and likely return in April 2010
to also discuss cyber-security products for the GOT. He
added that he did not see Raytheon following up on any

TUNIS 00000134 003 OF 003


defense-related sales.

8. (SBU) Other companies, such as Capstone Turbine, said they
would return to Tunisia to follow up on sales/partnership
opportunities. Capstone's Director of Policy and
Distribution Development, Justin Rathke, indicated he wished
to sign a distribution contract for Tunisia, Libya, and
Algeria, and would return to finalize distribution agreements
with a Tunisian engineering company introduced to him by the
Embassy. In addition, STEG, the national energy utility, may
purchase some of Capstone's micro-turbines for backup in
power plants. Ramon Castillo, President of CMF Distributors,
met with a Tunisian golf course developer who will place an
order for CMF's products. Castillo will also follow up with
opportunities offered by the GOT's water management agencies
(SONEDE and ONAS).

9. (SBU) Boeing's Director of Government and Industrial
Relations for the MENA Region, Denise Faulhaber, came to
Tunisia largely to learn about the market and maintain
Boeing's visibility here. She declined to meet with the
state-owned airline Tunisair, and instead met with the
Ministry of Transportation's Director of Civil Aviation,
Hamadi Ben Khalifa, who shared that Tunisiar was banking on
early delivery of Airbus A350 aircraft. According to
Faulhaber, this may not happen on schedule, which could
present a potential sales opportunity for Boeing. Faulhaber
also met with the Tunisian Aerospace Chamber (GITAS) to get
an overview of the aeronautical sector and visited Eurocast,
a factory that makes components for fuel injectors used in
engines (which end up in Boeing aircraft). Based on the
GITAS meeting, Boeing may participate in the second edition
of the "Aerospace Meetings" to be held in Tunisia in July
2010. Faulhaber also spent a considerable amount of time
fending off rumors that Boeing was planning to build a plant
in Tunisia. The Embassy has identified the economic
newspaper which provided the faulty reporting and will follow
up.

10. (SBU) The remaining companies, Hill International, TJJ
Architects, and Wall-Ties and Forms, also had a full schedule
of meetings, including a courtesy call with the Ministry of
Public Works, Housing, and Land Management. Hill is present
in every country in the Maghreb except Tunisia, and will
return to follow up with one engineering company introduced
during the business-to-business (B-2-B) luncheon. The
representative from TJJ Architects, who was looking for
Tunisian partners to cover the Libya and Algeria markets,
plus a French-speaking liaison for business in Haiti, was
pleased with his meetings but did not indicate whether he had
any solid leads. One of the architecture firms he met with,
however, said partnering with American architecture firms
would help Tunisian companies enter the Libyan market, as it
would raise their profile and cement credibility. Wall Ties
and Forms was pleased with the schedule, but did not meet up
with the right partners to market their concrete forming
systems, which are mostly for middle-income residential use.

--------------------
Missed Opportunities
--------------------

11. (SBU) Although the trade mission provided a relatively
low-cost, no-hassle addition to the trip (total cost for
participants for logistics was $141, hotel was $107/night and
all meal costs were folded into events), at least four
companies declined the offer to visit Tunisia because they
were not given enough advance notice (Bechtel, YSI, UDI, and
SSC Medical). (Note: No visa is needed for Americans visiting
Tunisia and there are multiple daily direct flights to
Algiers. End note.) The Department of Commerce did not
forward us the list of participating companies until January
15, and by then many delegates had already purchased plane
tickets and booked their schedules. One company, Severn
Trent, was set to come but then cancelled last-minute due to
a personal emergency. There was a strong interest in Tunisia
among the delegates, and some companies who did not come on
the mission, such as Harley Davidson and Pratt and Whitney,
expressed interest in traveling to Tunisia on their own.
GRAY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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