September 27, 2019
Good evening everyone; I am delighted to participate in this special awards ceremony. I want to thank Minister of Industry Slim Feriani, the FHI360 team, and the distinguished winners of the PAM PACK Awards competition.
The United States has been a strong supporter of Tunisia’s economic growth; in fact, a substantial portion of the four billion dinars that the United States has provided Tunisia since 2011 has gone toward economic development. We are particularly focused on helping small businesses, like those in the handicraft sector, and we recognize that an inclusive workforce – with women, youth, and citizens of the interior – is essential for Tunisia to thrive.
We are also working hard to expand bilateral trade. The United States is now the top destination for Tunisian handicrafts, with sales of more than 17 million dinars in 2018. Tunisia’s brand identity is on the rise in the U.S., with trendy California spas displaying Tunisian essential oils, and homes across America displaying Nabeul pottery and Kairouan carpets. The Embassy’s assistance programs will continue to help a wide range of Tunisian small businesses improve their packaging, enhance their marketing, and increase their exports – all with the goal of creating good, sustainable jobs.
Through this project we are helping Tunisian artisans improve their product quality and tailor their packaging for export, foster a more competitive handicraft value chain, and open new market opportunities to artisanal groups.
We are also creating a tangible impact on the lives of artisans. One example is the incredible group of 20 Ain Drahem women who successfully completed a certification exam, earned their professional cards, and joined the formal economy. Such a transformative opportunity allowed them to register with the National Handicraft Office (ONAT), gaining access to funding, technical assistance, social insurance, and artisanal tax exemptions.
More broadly, the U.S. government is working with thousands of small businesses across Tunisia in an effort to improve the business climate, improve job creation an increase sustainable economic growth.
I would like to congratulate today’s winners for their creative packaging designs. The handicraft sector depends on your innovative vision, your pursuit of opportunities, and your dedication to success. Thank you