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EU-Tunisia Negotiations: Freeing Trade Without Exchanging Freedoms? (FTDES)

The week of April 23, 2018 will be marked by the launch of discussions, between Tunisia and the European Union, on the conditions of trade, with the aim of signing the deep and comprehensive free trade agreement) (DCFTA), and this, after completing, the negotiations, that started from Tuesday, on the readmission of migrants and the facilitation of visa applications for a small part of Tunisian women and men.

According to an article published Tuesday by the Tunisian Forum for Common and Social Rights (FTDES), under the title “EU-Tunisia Negotiations: Free Trade without Exchanging Freedoms? The two themes of the movement of people and the increase in trade liberalisation were linked to a Tunisian demand. This is due to the fear of promoting the circulation of goods, financial flows and services, at the expense of the movement of people.

According to the FTDES, Europe’s negotiations in Tunisia respond to two of its obsessions: to remain the major player in international trade and to control who can access its territory.

“On both subjects, the same logic applies and the EU does not take risks in these negotiations. Promising small improvements – some categories of Tunisian citizens will go more easily in Europe, some sectors will be able to export more – the EU essentially serves its direct interests, to the detriment of the reciprocity of benefits, “said the FTDES.

It added that in addition to “the imbalanced balance of power in these negotiations between a country of 11 million inhabitants to the still very fragile economy which is under reconstruction and a Union of 500 million inhabitants who is the first power the EU imposes pressures so that the terms of the agreement are difficult to negotiate for Tunisia.

“The conditionality of development aid implies that Tunisia, in order to obtain public funding from the Union, must agree to put in place certain measures or reforms that the State would not necessarily have undertaken otherwise”.

In this context, the Forum recommended to fully link the issues of mobility and trade, in a broader partnership that departs from the priorities of Tunisia, and not those of the European Union.

This partnership should allow reciprocal circulation conditions between citizens of both shores of the Mediterranean; and promote the facilitation of mobility of non-managerial workers (circular, seasonal migration, etc.); and ensuring reciprocity in visa policies.

With regard to economic and trade relations, the FTDES considered that this partnership should identify what actions would actually enable Tunisia to guarantee jobs, particularly to young graduates and to the regions of the interior.

In this context, he advocated ensuring the transfer of technology, through in-depth scientific cooperation, and moving towards an agro-ecological model, in order to develop an agriculture adapted to changing climatic conditions, the scarcity of water and to feed the Tunisian population in a large part.

The Forum also stressed “the imperative not to allow, through arbitration tribunals, to call into question the sovereignty of the Tunisian State vis-à-vis the interests of foreign multinationals.”

TunisianMonitorOnline (Source:TAP)

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