Egyptian-Tunisian Relations
Sunday, February 3, 2019
Egyptian-Tunisian Relations

The relations between Egypt and Tunisia are exceptionally strong, as reflected in the identical viewpoints on the international and regional issues and in the full coordination between them in the international arenas. The relations between the two countries are deeply rooted as the Fatimid capital moved from Mahdia in Tunisia to Cairo transferring the Islamic monuments and Fatimid architecture to Egypt.

Political Relations

After the success of the 30th of June revolution and the election of President Sisi in Egypt and President El Sebsi in Tunisia, the Egyptian- Tunisian political relations have significantly improved. The Egyptian-Tunisian relations have witnessed some developments especially in the field of combating terrorism. After a five-year hiatus, the joint Egyptian-Tunisian committee, chaired by former Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab and his Tunisian counterpart Habib Essid, was held in September 2015 in Tunisia to promote joint cooperation between the two countries. Mahlab has signed 17 agreements and memorandum of understanding with the Tunisian side in various fields, including industry, trade, education, tourism, manpower, economic supervision, radio, television, culture and traditional industries. On 4/7/2017, the meetings of a joint Egyptian-Tunisian consular committee wrapped up in Cairo. The two sides discussed ways of boosting cooperation in the consular fields to facilitate the affairs of the two countries’ citizens. They also discussed the security, labor and cultural cooperation.

On 20/2/2017, Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria signed the Tunisia Ministerial Declaration to support the political settlement in Libya.

Mutual Visits

  • On 5/11/2018, the Minister of Youth and Sports of Tunisia, Magdoline Al-Sharni visited Egypt to participate in the activities of the World Youth Forum held in Sharm El-Sheikh. Al-Sharni was received by Dr. Ashraf Subhi, Minister of Youth and Sports. The two sides discussed a number of issues related to youth and sports, the programs implemented between the two countries and the ways to develop relations towards the two countries.
  • On 10/10/2018, Dr. Ahmed Ali Badawi, Head of Seismology Department at the National Institute of Astronomical and Geophysical Research, visited Tunisia to participate in the Arab-African Forum for Disaster Risk Reduction.
  • On 17/12/2017, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry left for Tunisia to take part in the fourth coordinating committee grouping the foreign ministers of Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria. The meeting tackled the latest developments of the Libyan crisis in light of the initiative of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi to find a comprehensive settlement to the Libyan crisis.
  • On 12/11/2017, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi received Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and had talks on a raft of regional issues alongside enhancing cooperation, especially in the economic domain. Chahed conveyed greetings of Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, stressing the depth of bilateral ties, highlighting the role played by Egypt which is deemed bedrock of security and stability in the Arab world.
  • On 11/11/2017, a Higher Joint Egyptian-Tunisian Committee was chaired by the Prime Ministers Sherif Ismail of Egypt and Tunisia's Youssef al Shahed.
  • On 10/7/2017, Tunisian Minister of Vocational Training and Employment Emad Hamami visited Ismailia Governorate accompanied by Manpower Minister Mohamed Saafan and praised the efforts exerted in the completion of major national projects and the project of the new city of Ismailia.
  • On 11/6/2017, Youth and Sports Minister Khalid Abdel Aziz visited Tunisia to ink a cooperation protocol between Egypt and Tunisia pertaining to the executive program in the sports field. Abdel Aziz also attended the football match between the Egyptian and Tunisian national football teams held in Rades Stadium within the framework of the first round of the qualifiers for the African Cup of Nations 2019 to be organized in Cameroon.
  • On 30/4/2017, Egypt's candidate for the post of UNESCO director general Moushira Khattab was awarded the first edition of the Fatima Fihriya Prize in Tunisia.
  • On 19/2/2017, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry visited Tunisia to attend a meeting of the foreign ministers of Libya's neighbors, namely Tunisia and Algeria. The meeting aimed at holding consultations on the Libyan file and coordinating stances among the three neighbors on efforts exerted to end the Libyan crisis.
  • On 24/1/2017, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri visited Tunisia, heading Egypt's delegation in a political consultation mechanism meeting between the two countries.
  • On 4/10/2015, Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi visited Egypt, and he was received by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi. The meeting discussed means of enhancing bilateral relations and a number of regional issues of common concern, especially the Libyan crisis and developments in the Middle East.
  • On 8/9/2015, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab has conveyed a message from President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to his Tunisian counterpart Beji Caid Essebsi on the latest Arab and international developments. The message also touched upon means of boosting bilateral relations. Sisi also invited Essebsi to visit Egypt to complete talks on bilateral cooperation. Mahlab is in Tunisia to attend meetings of the joint high committee.
  • On 6/5/2015, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi received Tunisian Presidential Cabinet director Ridha Belhaj. They discussed the relations between the two countries and means of promoting them.
  • On 27/3/2015, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi held talks with his Tunisian counterpart Beji Caid Essebsi who arrived in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El Sheikh to take part in the 26th meeting of the Arab summit.
  • On 28/2/2015, Assistant Foreign Minister Ambassador Osama Majdoub met his Tunisian counterpart Tohamy Abdouly within the framework of meetings conducted by Majdoub during his visit to Tunisia with officials of the foreign and interior ministries, for consultation about the deteriorating situation in Libya, and ways to counter the threat of terrorist organizations in the region. Majdoub renewed thanks to the facilities offered by the Tunisian authorities to bring home Egyptians who fled the conflict in Libya.
  • On 4/8/2014, Egypt expressed sincerest thanks for Tunisia for the assistance it offered to the Egyptians who are stranded on its borders with Libya and the facilities extended with the aim of facilitating their return to Egypt. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said in a joint press conference with Tunisian Prime Minister Mahdi Gomaa that Tunisia's security is inseparable from Egypt's, adding that President Abdel Fattah El Sisi assigned him to visit Tunisia to facilitate the return of the Egyptians who are stranded on Libyan-Tunisian borders. Shoukry noted that the Tunisian Prime Minister gave directives to different bodies to facilitate the return of the stranded Egyptians as soon as possible and to facilitate evacuation measures.
  • On 14 and December 15, 2009, Assistant Foreign Minister for Consular Affairs visited Tunisia to head the Egyptian side in the work of the tenth session of the Joint Committee on the consular affairs.
  • On 31 March to April 2, 2009, a delegation from the Ministry of Electricity participated in the fifth meeting of the joint technical committee in the field of electricity.
  • On 26 and February 27, 2009, the visit of Ambassador / Abdel Rahman Salah, Assistant Foreign Minister for Arab Affairs to head the Egyptian side in a round of political talks .
  • On 27 and 30 January 2009, a delegation from the Ministry of Scientific Research under the chairmanship of Prof. Dr. Mohamed Tarek Hussein President of the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology attended the meetings of the Technical Committee of the Egyptian-Tunisian cooperation in the field of higher education.

Economic Relations

Egypt-Tunisia trade has grown significantly in recent years, recording $214 million during the first half of 2018: Egyptian exports to Tunisia were estimated at $176 million, while imports amounted to $38 million.

Investments

By the end of 2014, the Tunisian investments in Egypt reached about 35 million dollars in the fields of petroleum services, tourism, food industries, land reclamation, transport, cars spare parts and light industries, while the Egyptian investments in Tunisia reached 2.2 million dollars represented in a factory of tobacco and other in furniture and electrical appliances sector. Tunisia is ranked the 54th among the countries investing in Egypt.

A number of agreements have been signed including:

  • A free trade agreement (March 5, 1998).
  • The Agadir Agreement for the Establishment of a Free Trade Zone between the Arabic Mediterranean Nations being signed in Rabat, Morocco on 25 February 2004 aiming at establishing a free trade area between Jordan, Tunisia, Egypt and Morocco and this was seen as a possible first step in the establishment of the Euro-Mediterranean free trade area as envisaged in the Barcelona Process.
  • The Pan-Arab Free Trade Area, which came into effect on January 1, 2005.

On 8/9/2015, Prime Minister and his Tunisian counterpart witnessed the signing of 16 agreements at the close of meetings of a joint higher committee. The two sides inked memorandums of understanding to cooperate in the fields of water resources and irrigation, stock exchange and consumer protection, as well as MoU on cooperation between the Social Fund for Development (SFD) and the Tunisian Solidarity Bank. They also signed executive programs for cooperation in the fields of environment preservation, tourism, youth, sports, childhood, education, media and traditional industries.

On 12/11/2017, Egyptian Prime Minister and Tunisian Prime Minister attended the signing of a number of agreements and memorandum of understandings between both countries. The agreements and memorandum of understandings were signed at the conclusion of the 16th session of the joint Egyptian-Tunisian higher committee and they focus on cooperation between the two countries in various fields, especially the finance field.

The memorandum of understandings and agreements focused on cooperation between the two States in establishing projects in the land and maritime transportation, as well as meteorology, renewable energy, health, sports and trade fields.

On 11/11/2017, the Egyptian-Tunisian Business Forum concluded with the participation of 18 Tunisian companies and a number of Tunisian businessmen.

On 11/8/2018, the activities of the 5th Joint Egyptian-Tunisian Trade and Industry Committee concluded. The committee agreed on activating focal points between the two countries to respond to enquiries related to certificates of origin; and fostering mutual cooperation in areas of information exchange, export development, general and specialized expos, and industrial investment promotion in the promising sectors of electronic and automotive feeding industries, textiles and ready-made garments.

Enhancing the role of the Egyptian-Tunisian Business Council was also discussed during the meetings, as well as studying the signing of a cooperation protocol between Egyptian technological centers and their Tunisian counterparts, mainly in the fields of food and agriculture industries, leather, textiles, construction materials, chemicals, furniture, engineering industries, and packaging.

Moreover, the two sides stressed the importance of boosting bilateral cooperation in other African countries, especially after Tunisia’s accession to COMESA which could open the door for joint ventures with Egypt across the Dark Continent.

Cultural Cooperation

The cultural exchange between Egypt and Tunisia has been currently undergoing intensive activities, where several artistic troupes have participated in several Tunisian festivals, namely:

- On 22/6/2018 Egypt participated in the meetings of the standing committee on Arab culture in Tunis, the capital city of Tunisia. The meeting aimed to prepare for the 21st session of ministers in charge of cultural affairs in the Arab world conference, which would discuss the cultural affairs in the Arab world and the executive position of the 19th session's resolutions, as well as the cultural heritage and drafting a charter to preserve it.

- Egypt participated in the 33rd session of the Tunis Book Fair on 24/3/2017.

- Egypt participated in the 18th International Theatre Festival in Tunisia.

- The modern dance troupe of the Egyptian Opera participated in an international festival in Tunisia on April 25, 2010.

- An Egyptian cultural week was held in the city of Kairouan during the period from 10 to 15 November 2009, on the occasion of the celebration of the choice of the Tunisian city as the capital of Islamic culture in 2009.

Tourism Cooperation

The Egyptian-Tunisian relations are witnessing several tourism activities, including the signing of a number of memorandums of understanding and executive programs between the two countries, including the "Executive Program for Cooperation in the Field of Tourism", signed by the former Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab on September 8, 2015.

An executive program for promoting cooperation has been signed between the two countries. Tunisian officials have been invited for an introduction to Egypt's experiment in promoting entertainment tourism in Cairo. It is worth to   mention the following statistics:

- Egypt-bound Tunisian tourists reached 38,719 in 2009; they spent 288,894 nights.

- During 2014, despite the difficult economic conditions in both countries and security instability, some 13,000 Tunisians visited Egypt.

Source

Egypt State Information Service

Ministry of Trade and Industry