Ambassador’s Remarks at the Inauguration of AmCham’s new Center Chapter in Sousse

Ambassador’s Remarks  

at the Inauguration of AmCham’s new Center Chapter in Sousse

Good afternoon.  On behalf of the U.S. Embassy in Tunis, I would like first to congratulate the extended family of AmCham Tunisia for opening this new chapter in the Center region, which I understand will cover Sousse, Mahdia, and Monastir.  Thanks to the leadership of AmCham Center President Kamel Zarrad, and President Khaled Babbou and the efforts of the entire AmCham team, we are here to celebrate this new milestone in AmCham Tunisia’s growth.

The expansion of trade and investment led by the private sector is critical for Tunisia’s democratic transition.  I am proud to say that the U.S.-Tunisia bilateral commercial relationship is strong as we have been trading partners for centuries and our cultural and business ties are increasing every day.  AmCham plays a crucial role as a link between U.S. investors and Tunisian businesses.  When that link is strong, everyone wins.  Let me give you just one example.   Earlier today, I visited Sartex, a textile company in Ksar Hellal.  I had the opportunity to tour the plant and see firsthand how the management and employees of Sartex are working together to implement international standards with respect to quality control, production management, and working conditions.   It’s not an easy process.   But, more and more businesses are making the choice to meet these international standards, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but because it’s the smart thing to do.

International consumers want high-quality products, and businesses that comply with international standards develop a very high reputation.  Sartex is a shining example of a Tunisian business that has made the decision to take risks and invest in its future.  And let me say that we are so thrilled that Mr. Kamel Zarrad the president of Sartex will be the first head of the new AmCham Central chapter.  He will be a great role model for business owners throughout the Center region who are ready to show the world that Tunisia is open for business.

We at the U.S. Embassy continue to look for ways to strengthen this partnership with AmCham Tunisia and all of its chapters to promote trade and increase the attractiveness of Tunisia to U.S. investors and vice versa.

I have had the honor of participating in numerous AmCham events, from influential conferences with government officials to roundtable discussions with distinguished business leaders, and I am impressed by the quality and richness of AmCham’s contributions to the U.S.-Tunisia economic relationship.  The opening of AmCham Center is a welcome addition to that relationship, and I am sure that it will be an important tool to increase the Sahel region’s trade with the United States.  The region has a very strong industrial sector with big exporting capabilities that can be oriented toward the U.S. market.  On the investment side, U.S. companies are already operating in the region, providing jobs and export products in the services, electronics, electrical components, and paint filters areas.  We hope for this to grow and for import and exports between our two countries to grow in both directions.

As a Chamber your charge goes beyond just trade promotion and protecting the interests of your members.  A Chamber and its members serve as a model for other businesses in the region, promoting good governance practices and the value of competitiveness.  The Chamber can reflect these values in its programming and lending its support and collaboration to those working to improve them.  All of us together should encourage a dialogue on economic reform, including transparency and an end to cronyism and corruption.

American Chambers can unite key entities with a common voice to advocate for good practices and for a business and regulatory environment conducive to a thriving private sector that will boost the economy and create jobs.  Regional AmChams underscore that these activities are crucial outside of the capital as well.  It is my hope and expectation that your work will extend from the big cities to the outlying areas of the region to encourage and stimulate the much needed business activity in these areas that will grow and strengthen inclusive economic growth in Tunisia.