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Tunisia: Promoting green and eco-friendly economy to boost exports.

Summary: Conformity of products to environmental standards and building up a green economy are now the roadmap of Tunisian products for a better access to external markets, particularly the European ones.

Conformity of products to environmental standards and building up a green economy are now the roadmap of Tunisian products for a better access to external markets, particularly the European ones.

Aware of this major challenge, Tunisia has already set in motion several projects to help Tunisian companies produce in accordance with environmental standards in force, to take up appropriate national and international challenges in this area.

The European market, the main importer of Tunisian products (83%), has adopted a protectionist policy that dictates restrictions on imported products, such as the "REACH" regulations on registration, the evaluation and authorisation of chemicals and "ISO 14001," relating to environmental management.

In this regard, Tunisia has implemented coherent environmental upgrading programmes designed to provide needed technical assistance to industrial and services companies in this area and develop clean production methods.

The purpose is to streamline energy consumption, preserve natural resources and improve waste management.

The cabinet meeting, held last Friday under the chairmanship of the Head of State dedicated to the implementation of the aspect related to environment in the presidential programme "Together We Meet Challenges," provided the opportunity to take stock of the achievements accomplished in this area.

It pertains in particular to the 21st item of the Programme entitled: "a modern approach to environmental policies and protection of natural assets," aimed to raise to 500 the number of companies certified "ISO 14001" by 2014.

The Programme also provides assistance for one hundred of industrial and tourist companies to help them obtain the Tunisian Ecolabel.

To this effect, an action plan was set up by the Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development, in association with the Ministry of Industry and Technology and the Ministry of Tourism, to integrate the environmental management component in enterprises.

It is worth pointing out that environmental upgrading focuses on several axes, including improving enterprises' competitiveness by reducing production costs, energy and water saving and cutting polluting emissions.

Through these programmes, Tunisia aims to help Tunisian companies obtain the "ISO 14001" certification and Tunisian Ecolabel in order to create eco-friendly enterprises and achieve the hoped-for development goals.

It should be noted that results of a study conducted in 2008 by the international certification office "AFAQ AFNOR" on several ISO-14001-certified companies showed the ability of companies interviewed to reduce their water and energy consumption at rates ranging between 10% and 15%, and a better waste management resulting in an increase of 20% to 30% of the rate of waste stock recovery.

The same study also showed a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions at rates ranging between 20% and 80%, over a period of 10 years, in addition to the decline of consumption of raw materials by 5% to 25%.

The "Tunisian Ecolabel" programme involves at a first stage three sectors, namely textile, tourist accommodation services and some food products (packaged olive oil, packaged dates, canned food, vegetables, fruits, etc.).

The implementation of the pilot project started in 2009 in favour of 17 companies, including 10 in the tourist and textile sectors and 7 companies in food industries.

A strategic study will be carried out during the next period on the Tunisian Ecolabel, in addition to the expansion of the system through adherence of new products to this labelling programme.

In this regard, the Tunis International Centre of Environment Technologies is planning to carry on development of projects according technical and ecological standards of the Tunisian Ecolabel of food products.

The centre seeks to devise support programmes for some 60 companies and conduct necessary studies, in addition to taking measures to publicise the Tunisian Ecolabel internationally.

Regarding the transfer of environment technologies and valorisation of research and innovation works, the centre has set up, in association with research centres and national and international universities, a programme designed to conceive of pertinent environmental solutions in Tunisia, starting from posed environment problems.

Renewable energy, organic waste recycling, preservation and rationalisation of water resources and transfer of environment technologies are the major axes of technological transfer.

Tunisia has taken a number of measures for the benefit of companies to encourage them to join the environmental upgrading programme, including the Industrial Depollution Fund (FODEP), the Environmental Credit Line (ENVIROCRED) to encourage investment in the area of depollution and energy saving, the Fund for Development of Industrial Competitiveness (FODEC) and the National Energy Mastery Fund (FNME).

Tunisia is striving to promote environment quality in order to preserve consumers' health and safety and improve the competitiveness of Tunisian products at home and abroad.

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Publication:UMCI News (Potomac Falls, VA)
Date:Sep 3, 2010
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