Business leaders show cautious optimism about 2021 outlook, despite pandemic (CTFCI)
24/02/2021 15:05, TUNIS/Tunisia

(TAP) - Business leaders are showing cautious optimism about the 2021 outlook and the rebound of economic activity, despite the seriousness of the current situation due to COVID-19, this is what emerges from the economic situation barometer, published Wednesday by the Tunisian-French Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CTFCI).

The CTFCI barometer conducted between February 1 and 15, 2021, among 145 member enterprises (75 in industry and 70 in the service sector), including 100, with French participation (69%), also shows that the long-awaited and hoped-for recovery is nevertheless conditional on the fulfillment of a number of interdependent factors.

In fact, the restoration of confidence and the revival of growth are inherent for the majority of business leaders, to the reinforcement of political stability and the improvement of the health situation and the business environment.

These prerequisites are likely to enhance the confidence of entrepreneurs and give them greater visibility to make the most of the relocation movement that is beginning to take shape in Europe.

Generally speaking, the CTFCI barometer reveals that in 2020, nearly 57% of enterprises recorded a drop in their turnover, 21% expect stagnation and 22% expect a slight increase in turnover.

The year 2021 promises to be better with an expected slight improvement, with 35.6% of enterprises expecting an increase in turnover, 33.6% expecting stagnation and 30.4% expecting a decrease.

As regards investment, the year 2020 saw a real halt under the impact of COVID-19, but also of the political situation and the worsening of the business climate.

It appears that 75% of enterprises either reduced or suspended their investments and only 25% made additional investments.

2021 might be a bit hopeful, as 38% intend to invest and 62% are still in a kind of wait-and-see attitude.

The CTFCI barometer also indicates that COVID-19 has seriously impacted the situation of many enterprises.

This impact was strong or very strong for 43.7% of them, average for 40%, poor for 13% and negligible for 3%.

The health crisis has affected the turnover of enterprises; 80% of which said that they had been hit to varying degrees.

The repercussions of COVID-19 were particularly felt by enterprises operating in the tourism, transport, textile and aeronautics sectors, with 13% considering the impact to be very strong.

Only 20% of the surveyed enterprises consider that they are not touched by the pandemic.

With regard to employment, the impact of COVID-19 has been variously perceived. For 57% of the enterprises, COVID-19 had no impact on employment.

On the other hand, 43% of them were compelled to cut their workforce (redundancies, termination of fixed-term contracts, voluntary departure, early retirement, etc.).

Only 3% of the enterprises operating mainly in the tourism, transport, textile or aeronautics sectors consider this impact to be severe.

As far as the factors of competitiveness of the Tunisian business site are concerned, three fears are hanging over the enterprises for the next twelve months.

77.1% of them dread the risk of political instability, 75% fear the continuation of the health crisis and 47.9% perceive fiscal instability as a source of blockage.

As regards the positioning of Tunisia as a potential relocation site for French companies, 52% of enterprises consider that Tunisia is either very attractive or moderately attractive against 48% who think that the Tunisian business site has significantly lost its attractiveness.

As far as the business-administration relationship is concerned, the administrative structures are deemed to be less efficient and less transparent. In the ranking of the least performing administrations, the top group is held by the tax services with 40% of enterprises deploring the quality of the services provided to them and their extreme complexity.

The customs services come in second place with 30% of the surveyed enterprises negatively assessing the complexity of the procedures and their lack of transparency, followed by the CNSS with 12.5% of enterprises expressing dissatisfaction with the services provided.

The CTFCI's barometer of the economic situation, conducted in a context of health crisis, political crisis, economic difficulties and social tensions, aims to better identify the sources of competitiveness and weakness of the Tunisian business ecosystem, as perceived by CTFCI members and to have an appreciation of the impact of the political, economic and social situation on the feelings of business leaders and the attractiveness of the Tunisian site.

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