Malta Enterprise is currently receiving applications from enterprises interested in forming part of two separate business delegations that shall be visiting Tunisia and Algeria back to back between November 28th and December 5th, 2012 with the scope of exploring business opportunities and strengthening commercial ties with the two neighbouring countries.
The business delegation to Tunisia follows up on the Xth Session of the Maltese-Tunisian Joint Commission which was held in Tunis in the first week of September, when the two sides amongst others reiterated their commitment to intensify trade relations, encourage partnerships and investments, and to extend their support to SMEs.
Both Malta and Tunisia agreed that trade exchanges and investment opportunities remain below the real potential offered in their respective markets and thus agreed on a range of initiatives to boost business between the two countries, among which is the organisation of the business delegation to Tunis between November 28th and December 1st, 2012.
The business delegation shall be the fourth to visit Tunisia since the Arab Spring, which led to radical changes in the country and its business environment. Tunisia's diverse economy comprises not only traditional sectors such as agriculture, mining, manufacturing, petroleum products and tourism, but also relatively new sectors such as ICT which played a crucial role in the revolution.
During the business delegation, participants will have the opportunity to participate in the Business and Technology Convention being organised by the Tunisian Agency for the Promotion of Industry and Innovation APII and which shall be focusing on a number of sectors including automotives, electrical and electronics, ICT, mechanical engineering, aeronautics, pharmaceuticals, plastics and agro-food. The Convention will provide an opportunity for networking and establishing of contacts with Tunisian companies.
While in Tunis, Malta Enterprise is also envisaged to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the APII with a view to stepping up cooperation between the two organisations and initiating an exchange programme of expertise and good practices in the promotion and development of SMEs and innovation.
Malta Enterprise will then proceed straight to Algeria with the second business delegation, which shall be held between December 1st and 5th, 2012 and which shall also comprise business fora, one-to-one meetings and networking events.
Algeria's territory, which is the largest in Africa and the tenth largest in the world, is rich in natural resources such as oil and gas, which account for around 90 per cent of its exports and 30 per cent of its GDP. The country is however seeking to diversify its economy particularly through the attraction of foreign and domestic investment to reduce its dependancy on this industry.
Despite the proximity with both countries, Malta's trade flows with Tunisia and Algeria are relatively on the low side and there is room for further growth.
In the past year, Malta exported €22.3 million worth of goods to Tunisia - mostly mineral fuels and oils or their products, ships and floating structures, and plastics or articles thereof - while on the other hand it imported a wide range of goods with a global value of €1.9 million.
During the same period, trade with Algeria was even lower, with Malta importing €3.6 million worth of goods, which were almost entirely made up of mineral fuels and oils, and exporting a mere €0.4 million worth of goods to the country.
Businesses may participate in either one of the business delegations, or both. Malta Enterprise shall assist the business delegation participants in the setting up of meetings through its contacts with business support organizations in both countries. A representative of each participating business may also benefit from financial support to cover part of the travel costs and a per diem allowance.
The business delegations are being organised with the support of the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, the General Retailers and Traders Union, and the Gozo Business Chamber.