The Jasmine Revolution of Tunisia was the first in a series of democratic uprisings that extended to a number of North African and Middle Eastern countries, in what became known collectively as the Arab Spring. Earlier this month, Tunisia’s new unicameral parliament held its inaugural session at the nation’s capital. Although the landmark transition towards a new republic has been fraught, a novel, egalitarian constitution was adopted, while a majority of the other participating nations deteriorated into extremism.
Political stability needs to be coupled with economic security. While unemployment in the North African nation has reached a precarious point, at more than 15%, prospects of a financial boost from across the ocean seem promising. Mercosur recently signed agreements with Tunisia and Lebanon to open trade negotiations that could result in a mutual import tax reduction. Countries within the trade bloc exported goods worth $290.6 million to Tunisia and imported a total of $136.8 million from the North African nation. The country’s stronger industries include crude petroleum, textiles, and chemical engineering.
Neutral intergovernmental bodies such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have also reinforced Tunisia’s transition towards political freedom. The IMF has announced plans for the disbursement of $217.5 million to Tunisia. The fifth installment of a loan program of $1.74 billion from June 2013 by the IMF to support country’s transformation, this payment is contingent upon an agenda of reducing energy subsidies and a controlled wage bill in the public sector.
Hopefully, as the world enters a new year we shall see democracy flourish in Tunisia’s new political system. However, increasing local, regional, and international confidence of investment in North Africa is imperative to nurture republicanism and pragmatism for the still-fragile region. Political stability needs to be coupled with economic security.