Tunis/Tunisia — The Ben Guerdane Free Trade Zone project to be set up some 11km from the Ras Jedir crossing point and 22km from the Ben Guerdane city over a 1.5 million m2, is among the top priority projects of the five-year development plan 2021-2025 and will help instill a new economic revival in the whole Tunisian southern region.

“This free trade zone aspires to establish a trade and logistics gateway between Africa and the European and Asian markets, via Libya, by drawing investments and large international enterprises operating in the international trade and logistics services fields, which will help generate over 9,000 permanent jobs,” said Central Director at the Monitoring Unit of Investment Projects at the Tunisian Office of Trade (OCT) Montassar Jarray.

The area will include 3 components: Commercial (spaces dedicated to export-import operations, premises for operators and merchants), logistical (storage, transport, etc.) and services (administration, public services).

The OCT is finalising the zone’s connection to the various networks, Jarray indicated, pointing out that the connection work has reached a progress rate of 95% for drinking water, 80% for electricity and 60% for roads.

The connection to the sewerage system is, however, somewhat delayed due to the authorisations required by the National Agency for Environmental Protection (ANPE), he regretted.

The OCT had finalised the phase of technical, financial and functional studies relating to the first phase of the project and is currently working on the institutional aspect through the setting up of a management company which will be entrusted with the running of the free trade zone.

The Ben Guerdane free trade zone project will also offer economic actors several incentives, such as access to real estate for foreigners, freedom to transfer profits, tax exemptions, and a one-stop shop for business creation, which will guarantee very competitive investment costs.

This zone will be a destination for shopping tourism and will bring services and goods (health services, medicines, fruit, etc.) closer to Libyan and Tunisian citizens, Jarray said.

This site will also be an important logistical artery for the Ben Guerdane region, which is historically known for its trade activities, as it is located between three important maritime zones, namely Misrata (Libya), Sfax and Zarzis (Tunisia).