Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki with UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi
"This is a difficult time, but an interesting time," said President Marzouki at the meeting, which was held just after noon in the Salon Français at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. "We are facing a lot of challenges at this remarkable juncture in Tunisia's history."
Referring to the wish of the Tunisian people for economic growth and prosperity to accelerate under the democracy and freedom established in wake of the Arab Spring demonstrations of 2011, he said: "The expectations of our people are very high. We have to deliver immediately, by showing concrete progress and tangible results." Mr. Marzouki said that the country had a pressing need for increased levels of foreign direct investment (FDI) to boost that process and to create jobs for Tunisian youth.
UNCTAD Secretary-General Supachai Panitchpakdi commented to the President: "You certainly seem to be showing the way, with the steps the Government has taken so far."
Dr. Supachai went on to note Tunisia's invitation to host UNCTAD's next World Investment Forum in Tunis in 2014, and the Government's request for UNCTAD to undertake an Investment Policy Review (IPR). He said that Mr. James Zhan, Director of UNCTAD's Division on Investment and Enterprise, would travel to Tunis in July to begin work on the IPR.
IPRs are detailed reviews of government rules, regulations and strategies related to foreign investment. To date, UNCTAD has carried out IPRs for 32 countries, and four more are under way. The process usually takes about a year. Countries that subsequently implement the recommendations contained in IPRs have frequently seen significant increases in FDI. FDI is considered important for stable, long-term economic growth in developing countries.
Dr. Supachai said that trade and investment should be "key areas" of attention as Tunisia strives to expand its economy and create jobs. He went on to say that UNCTAD's several programmes that aim at helping governments encourage the creation and growth of small and medium-sized businesses could prove useful for Tunisia.
The discussion between the President and the Secretary-General was a follow-up to Dr. Supachai's visit to Tunis in February.