Tunisia presents a unique opportunity to become a model for democracy and economic growth in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.
Since the 1950s, Tunisia has maintained a strategic partnership with the United States, particularly as a key element of U.S. strategy throughout North Africa and parts of the Middle East. Tunisia strengthened this partnership in 2015 as Tunisia became a “non-NATO ally” paving the way for enhanced military cooperation between the two countries. Since then, the U.S. and Tunisia have been working together on a range of global issues, including countering terrorism where Tunisia has shown to be a good and reliable partner in combatting violent extremism.
Job creation is essential to addressing Tunisia’s challenging employment dynamics, which add to the country’s fragility and highlights the need for additional investment in its economy to ensure that disillusioned Tunisians can have a brighter future. Without necessary gains being made, the country’s youth will be increasingly vulnerable to being lured into a world of violence and extremism in the Arab world’s only democracy. Marginalization of communities outside Tunisia’s capital and coastal areas as evidenced by recent protests and significant unemployment highlight the intersection between job creation and security. Key growth opportunities include agriculture, education, and the private health sector. By identifying and supporting policies that promote job creation in both Tunisia and the United States, CSST helps to bring opportunities for Tunisians and solve the pressing issue of unemployment and lack of jobs in Tunisia.
Although Tunisia has access to its own natural resources and those of neighboring countries, it remains vulnerable to supply disruptions and more can be done to establish the country’s energy security. Furthermore, instability related to unemployment has recently affected the country’s energy sector through protests that have halted both the production and delivery of energy. The country is also in the midst of an energy transition, which presents opportunities for investments in non-traditional energy areas such as wind and solar. CSST develops policies that help enhance energy security and self-sufficiency in Tunisia, which in turn helps foster an environment in which Tunisia can strengthen its own national security and economy and enable American companies to access business opportunities in the region.
Tunisia has tremendous potential in the economy of the future. From education and agriculture to the private health sector and beyond, opportunities abound for innovation through research and development to help Tunisia make major strides in moving beyond what has traditionally been a predominately extractive-based economy. This potential is underscored by Tunisia’s status as North Africa’s leader in transparency and the nation’s efforts to protect intellectual property rights, but challenged by a troubled history and continued negative perceptions in the areas of corruption and intellectual property rights. Successful gains in this area would help make the case for greater foreign investment in Tunisia and curb the migration of skilled workers outside the country. CSST supports innovation in key sectors within Tunisia, which will help spur stronger ties between the United States and Tunisia and promote Tunisia as a platform for U.S. businesses and entities in the Mediterranean region.