Donor: France (AFD)
In 2008, bilateral negotiations between Tunisia and the EU for the integration of agriculture in the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area were launched. At that time, three rounds of negotiations covering agriculture had been held.
In view of the fourth round of negotiations taking place in April 2009, the Tunisian Ministry of Agriculture and the French Development Agency (AFD) identified an opportunity to support the Tunisian trade negotiating team.
In this context, IDEAS Centre was mandated by the AFD to provide advisory and coaching services to the Tunisian Trade negotiating team. The support provided by IDEAS Centre was based on the needs of the negotiating team and characterized by punctual on-site missions which aimed at:
- Improving and refining the Tunisian negotiating strategy;
- Strengthening the negotiating skills of Tunisian trade negotiators;
- Improving their understanding of the Common Agricultural Policy of the European Union (possible evolution, challenges and future perspectives) in order to better size the constraints faced by the EU negotiators;
- Providing information and capitalizing on the negotiating experience led by other countries (in particular in the Maghreb)
IDEAS Centre negotiating advisory services were designed to help Tunisian trade negotiators to defend their positions in view of obtaining:
- The best possible access to EU’s agricultural market;
- The required adequate time to adapt their internal market to the opening up of their market to European agricultural products;
- An adequate aid package to support Tunisia’s efforts to establish a free trade area with the EU;
- Protection for small farm agriculture.
The approach followed by IDEAS Centre was demand-driven. Using the positions defined by the Tunisian Government, IDEAS Centre organized role-playing games and exercises to examine various negotiating scenarios and ensure the best possible outcome.
“IDEAS Centre was mandated by the AFD to provide advisory and coaching services to the Tunisian Trade negotiating team.”
The continuation of the project is still on hold, reflecting the slow process of negotiations with the EU and the current political situation in Tunisia.
To date two coaching missions have taken place.
- The first mission – which took place during the suspension of negotiations with the EU – was intended to define the strategy of Tunisia to resume negotiations while not abandoning its position on the necessity to keep aid as an integral part of the negotiation. Following a joint analysis of the costs and benefits of the suspension of negotiations, a strategy for the resumption of negotiations was developed.
- A second mission took place just before the fourth round of negotiations with the EU began and allowed the Tunisian negotiators to review their negotiating strategy and define the objectives as well as the ins and outs of the next round of negotiations.