Tunisia pursues economic diplomacy as a bridge to the IMF


At the end of last month, Tunisian Prime Minister Hicham Mechichi paid a three-day working visit to Doha.

During which he called for raising the volume of Qatari investments in his country and diversifying their fields.


The visit of Tunisian officials to Qatar comes in support of the intensive diplomatic movement to attract investments and financing in light of the difficult economic situation in their country, and in search of solutions to get out of the stifling crisis.

Tunisian President Kais Saied also made a previous visit to Qatar in mid-November to advance joint relations.

Saeed also stressed at the time, “the necessity of holding the meetings of the Tunisian-Qatari Joint Higher Committee during the first quarter of 2021.”

Inviting the Tunisian-Qatari Businessmen Council to convene as soon as possible.

In turn, Rashid Ghannouchi, head of the Ennahda movement, made an unannounced visit in early May to Qatar.

Riad Al-Shuaibi, political advisor to the head of the “Ennahda” movement, had confirmed that “Ghannouchi’s visit to Qatar was a private visit.

And what he is doing with international parties is to find solutions to the Tunisian economy and the health crisis in the country.


Qatar’s role

Al-Mashishi intensified his foreign visits to activate economic diplomacy and find ways to mobilize financial resources.

Especially after a government delegation headed by the Minister of Economy, Finance and Investment met to meet with senior officials of the International Monetary Fund to persuade them to resume financing support for Tunisia.

Negotiations with the International Monetary Fund stopped as a result of government instability and the failure of successive governments to implement their financial pledges.

The importance of Qatar comes from being among the top ten countries investing in Tunisia during 2020.

Without calculating energy (the first Arab country in terms of direct Arab investment flows), according to a statement by the director of the Foreign Investment Agency in Tunisia, Abdel Basset Ghanemi.


Maher Madhoub, assistant speaker of parliament, had admitted that “Tunisia is counting on Qatar to help it strengthen its negotiating position with the International Monetary Fund to obtain a loan estimated at $4 billion.”

Meshishi from Qatar also sent messages of reassurance about economic reform, saying that “the private sector must meet its luck and find the necessary encouragement, which is what is being worked on during this period.”

Rally for support and wholesale debts

Economist Reda Al-Shakandali said that “it is clear that the government does not have reassurances to obtain a loan from the International Monetary Fund, and this was embodied by visits to Libya, France and Qatar.”


He added, “We have great needs, and a large amount that must be paid as debts amounting to 15.6 billion dinars ($5.50 billion) in hard currency in light of tough commitments in the coming months.”

And he warned against “reaching the stage of default on external debt, which gives a bad reflection and encourages the sovereign rating institutions to bring Tunisia down to the (C) rating, which discourages them from borrowing again from donor institutions.”

He explained, “These visits are a search for alternative solutions if negotiations with the International Monetary Fund falter.

Which this time required the signature of national organizations, but there is a dispute over the content of the program, especially with the labor organization.


Shakdali believes that “donor institutions cannot sign up with governments that they see as unstable.

The messages sent by the Presidency of the Republic are negative, considering that it says that this government will not be stable in the coming months.”

He considered that “the promises we took from Libya, France and Qatar are not easily resolved on the ground, with the exception of Libya, which will go on an adventure with Tunisia, even if it is not a stable government.”

Donor Terms

For his part, economic expert Ezzedine Saidan said that “Tunisia is experiencing difficult economic, social, financial, political and health conditions.”

He added that “public debt dues amounted to 16.3 billion dinars (6 billion dollars) in 2021.


In return, Tunisia needs to mobilize additional loans worth 18.7 billion dinars ($6.85 billion).

He added, “The state cannot enter the international financial market to borrow if it does not have a program with the International Monetary Fund, while Tunisia does not have a program with the Fund.”

The economist explained that “Tunisia has a problem with the International Monetary Fund in the 2013 and 2016 programs, because it pledged to carry out reforms and did not commit to doing so.”

In light of the difficult conditions that the Tunisian economy is experiencing, “if it cannot borrow, it cannot repay the debt, and this gives us an idea of ​​how difficult the situation is,” according to him.

Saidan stressed that “it is necessary to pass through the International Monetary Fund, and this is what leads Tunisia to renew its commitment to reforms that are difficult to achieve.”