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  • Interview with H.E. Mohamed Elloumi, Ambassador of Tunisia to Japan: TICAD 8 and the bond of cooperation between Japan and Tunisia

Interview with H.E. Mohamed Elloumi, Ambassador of Tunisia to Japan: TICAD 8 and the bond of cooperation between Japan and Tunisia

By Staff Writer
September 12, 2022
On August 27 and 28, 2022, the 8th Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD 8) will be held. With the conference fast approaching, we spoke with the Ambassador of Japan to Tunisia, H.E. Mr. Mohamed Elloumi, who has occupied this position since 2018 and plays a crucial role in the development of the relations between Japan and Tunisia particularly and Japan and Africa more generally.

Ambassador Elloumi confirmed that the TICAD 8 summit is a major milestone on the path to strengthen the cooperation between Africa and Japan and that, with the many challenges that the international community is facing today, the summit is more than ever driven by the spirit of solidarity and commitment towards common goals like the SDG 2030 Agenda and the Africa Development Agenda 2063. Ambassador Elloumi explained that TICAD continuously promotes a very high-level political dialogue between the African heads of state and government, the Japanese Prime Minister and the co-organizers of the TICAD summit including the United Nations, World Bank and the African Union, and is therefore a special and developed summit that presents opportunities to both Africa and Japan, making this a win-win approach. Indeed, the summit not only allows the consolidation of Japan's much appreciated presence in Africa, but also allows the country to expand its presence in other markets, have new partnerships, and promote its quality infrastructure.

Ambassador Elloumi explained that the role of Tunisia goes back to the launch of the first TICAD summit organized by Japan in 1993. Tunisia has since participated in TICAD’s various summits and preparatory meetings at senior officials’ level, ministerial level or during the summits themselves. The reciprocal support of both countries toward each other’s initiatives symbolizes their friendship and solid diplomatic relations which started in June 1956, only three months after Tunisia’s independence from France. Tunisia’s cooperation with Japan is a multidimensional partnership and covers several areas.

In the economy and business sector, part of Tunisia’s action plan is to promote the economic partnership and business relations between the two countries through business seminars, forums, webinars, among other initiatives. In 2021, Japan became the third-largest foreign investor in Tunisia, and today there are more than 20 Japanese companies operating here, bringing a large volume of foreign direct investment and creating almost 8000 new jobs. Additionally, several Japanese companies, which were already present on the Tunisian market, have announced over the past few years a consolidation of their investment in Tunisia, especially in the manufacturing sector where Tunisia has several comparative advantages.
A cityscape in Tunisia

The economy of Tunisia, host of this year’s TICAD 8, has been growing, in part because of strong partnerships with Japan.

The areas of cooperation include the financial cooperation as well. Indeed, Japan has always supported the socio-economic development process of Tunisia since its independence and has financed and implemented more than 40 development projects in the framework of official development assistance. One of these projects is the Technopark Borj Cedria which has the distinction of being a project of financial, scientific, technological and technical cooperation, thus representing the different aspects of the countries’ cooperation according to Ambassador Elloumi. Additionally, there is a human aspect behind it because the teachers who have formed the Technopark Borj Cedria have pursued their studies in Japan, most of them at the University of Tsukuba, and went back to Tunisia as the core of teachers and researchers at the Technopark Borj Cedria. Recently, the University of Aizu which is very famous in the field of computer science, has been developing a cooperation project in the field of computer science with a university established in Technopark Borj Cedria, so this cooperation continues.

Another area of the Japanese cooperation is the technical cooperation which JICA plays a very important role in. This cooperation shows the particularity of the Japanese partner who, in addition to the financial support, always tries to transmit its know-how just like the concept of kaizen which was introduced into the Tunisian industrial environment to promote the productivity of Tunisia’s industrial sector.

When asked about the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Tunisia, Ambassador Elloumi noted that Tunisia, a country famous for its couscous consumption, is a net importer of wheat and more than 70% of its soft wheat imports come from both countries. He added that Tunisia, which has always been a peaceful country, has voted at the UN General Assembly for the end of the war and the resolution of all problems peacefully, as this is the guiding principle of its foreign policy. He concluded by saying: “Just like it is something that Tunisia defended in the Security Council as a non-permanent member during its term in 2020-2021, we are confident that Japan will do the same, during its term in 2023-2024. Furthermore, based on the three pillars of the TICAD summit which are the economy, a resilient society and peace and security, I believe that there will be a very fruitful debate between the heads of state and government to try to achieve lasting solutions for these various problems that the international community is facing.”
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