Tunisia: A National coordination to face the Comprehensive and In-depth Free Trade Agreement (ALECA)

May 24th 2019

On 22 May 2019, the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) announced the formation of a national coordination to face (ALECA) (the draft comprehensive and in-depth free trade agreement between Tunisia and the European Union), as it constitutes a threat to the economic and political future of Tunisia. It is a coordination that is "open to all the living forces" of civil society and aims at "positive pressure" to protect the country from the "serious consequences" of the signing of this agreement, especially on agriculture and services. It also aims to inform the public opinion of the implications of such an agreement on the national sovereignty, especially in light of the absence of information on the stakes involved.

The UGTT called on the government to uphold the national interest, in line with its recent negotiations with the European Union on the ALECA which took place between 29 April and 3 May 2019. The Tunisian Union for Agriculture and Fisheries has publicly expressed its rejection of this agreement on 5 May, regarding the report of the Tunisian Observatory of Economics issued on 25 April at the request of the union itself and the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, where the Tunisian agriculture have been badly affected by this agreement.

In October 2018, the Tunisian Forum on Social Economic Rights (a non-governmental organization), warned of the dangers of ALECA, which it included in a study that included the testimony of economists, trade unionists and civic actors. In this report, the Tunisian Forum warned of the danger of the ‘disappearance’ of many Tunisian farmers, as a result of European competition.

In fact, the EU is Tunisia's first trading partner. Moreover, ALECA is an extension of the 1995 free trade agreement between Tunisia and the European Union, with the entry of heavy sectors that were not previously covered, such as agriculture, fishing, services and public transactions.

As the ALECA provides the Tunisian exporters with shares of the European, the most vulnerable sectors of the Tunisian economy will be in competition with the EU exports to Tunisia, particularly with regard to the agricultural surplus.

On the European side, the civil society organizations such as ATAC and Les Amis de la Terre issued a call to collect signatures against ALECA, arguing that "the agreement would worsen the economic and social situation in Tunisia for the benefit of the European multinational companies."