FOREIGN direct investment (FDI) in Tunisia jumped 47% in the first eight months of the year, led by the fast-growing services sector, official data showed on Wednesday.
FDI grew to 921,2 million dinars (US$735,7 million) for the
January-to-August period versus 624 million dinars in the first eight months of 2006. Investment in services leaped to 146,6 million dinars from 26,1 million.
The North African country has attracted foreign investment in textiles, car assembly and food processing over the past three decades and is now targeting offshore services such as call centres.
Services are expected to account for half of gross domestic product by 2011, up from 45% now. About 40 call centres in Tunisia have already absorbed 5 000 job seekers.
Analysts said Tunisia is struggling to expand those new industries quickly enough to meet growing demand for jobs in the country of 10 million.
The official unemployment rate stands at 14,3%, with university graduates accounting for 60 % of the jobless.
The value of manufacturing FDI inched up 1,7% to 178 million dinars in the eight-month period, while the energy sector drew 520 million dinars, up from 334 million.
Tunisia has forecast FDI of 1,3 billion dinars this year, up from 1,2 billion dinars in 2006, excluding privatisation income. — Reuters.