Africa / Middle East

In Wake of Terror Attacks, Hopes EU Olive Oil Deal Can Help Tunisian Economy

Sep. 18, 2015
By Gaynor Selby

Recent News

Tunisian olive oil exports are set to increase after the European Union has adopted plans to help the country’s econ­omy recover fol­low­ing the beach mas­sacre terror attacks in June.

Since the ter­ror­ist inci­dent when 38 European tourists were gunned down at a beach resort in Sousse and another 39 seri­ously injured, the Tunisian tourism indus­try has taken a bat­ter­ing.

Tunisia can count on the EU’s sup­port in such a dif­fi­cult time.- Federica Mogherini, EU High Rep.

Crazed gunman and ISIS sup­porter Seifeddine Rezgui, 24, went on an 11-minute killing spree in the hol­i­day resort until he was even­tu­ally shot dead by police. The inci­dent sent shock waves around the world and European hol­i­day­mak­ers have avoided the coun­try this summer.

One way the European Union says it can show sup­port is to encour­age member states to import more Tunisian olive oil, which is the country’s main agri­cul­tural export to the EU.

Tunisia’s olive oil indus­try is a vital part of the country’s econ­omy, pro­vid­ing direct and indi­rect employ­ment to more than one mil­lion people and rep­re­sent­ing one-fifth of the country’s total agri­cul­tural employ­ments.

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The new EU ini­tia­tive will dra­mat­i­cally increase Tunisian olive oil exports to the EU, bring­ing much-needed short-term eco­nomic boost to the coun­try.

The European Commission deal, in place until the end of 2017, offers a uni­lat­eral annual duty-free tariff quota of 35,000 tons for Tunisia’s exports of olive oil to the EU, in addi­tion to the exist­ing 56,700 tons under the EU-Tunisia Association Agreement which has been run­ning since 1995.

“Exceptional times call for excep­tional mea­sures. The pro­posal is a strong signal of EU sol­i­dar­ity with Tunisia, and fol­lows up on my com­mit­ment to Prime Minister Essid and Foreign Minister Baccouche. Tunisia can count on the EU’s sup­port in such a dif­fi­cult time,” said High Representative of the European Union, Federica Mogherini.

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Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development Phil Hogan said Tunisia’s olive oil sector is one of the most impor­tant eco­nomic sec­tors of the coun­try and it is morally right for Europe to help it recover.

“This ini­tia­tive is a result of the EU com­mit­ment to help the Tunisian econ­omy fol­low­ing the recent ter­ri­ble events. It’s a con­crete effort tar­geted at one of the most impor­tant eco­nomic sec­tors of the coun­try,” said Hogan. “It aims to create more jobs to the ben­e­fit of the Tunisian people.”

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The leg­isla­tive pro­posal will now go through European Parliament for scrutiny and formal adop­tion before it offi­cially comes into force.