Interview: Ali Haddad
What reforms do you think are needed to improve the organisation of export activity?
ALI HADDAD: A number of measures that fall within the purview of the state – relating to procedures and regulations; aid and subsidies; infrastructure and logistics; and banking and tax practices – must be taken to trigger a genuine export dynamic.
In order to approach the matter strategically, we propose the creation of a steering committee under the authority of the prime minister that will be composed of the concerned parties for promoting exports. This committee will prepare a strategic diagnosis on the supply of exportable goods and services of each province, taking into account the existing strengths and resources.
As far as companies are concerned, we have found that many of them do not have an international marketing plan and, above all, have an alarming deficit in terms of human resources specialising in exports. That is why one of our recommendations concerns the rapid creation of a higher education institution dedicated to exporting and external relations.
Africa is a key target market given the dynamism of the continent’s economic growth. The EU remains a key area, though it will be necessary to rework the association agreement in favour of the Algerian economy by raising export volumes to this zone, easing non-tariff barriers and boosting free trade.
How does the Algerian business climate need to change to fit with the global economy?
HADDAD: First, we must create a virtuous circle in which each link has a role to play. The state must return to its role of facilitator-controller-regulator, and leave companies to invest and take initiatives freely. Our concern within the FCE is, first and foremost, to ensure the development and promotion of the domestic production of goods and services in the context of an open economy.
This requires the implementation of structural solutions, covering aspects such as financing, access to industrial land, taxation and economic governance. Also important are measures focusing on recovery efforts, in particular, in sectors in which our country has clear and exploitable competitive advantages, and those whose development is obviously important in terms of import substitution, both in production and in services.
The FCE’s priorities include reforming the national financial system with the aim of changing the involvement of banks in the financing of the economy, improving access to the banking system, promoting the role of insurance with respect to savings and boosting the stock market.
What are the hurdles to bringing foreign direct investment to the country and how is Algeria improving that environment?
HADDAD: We are working to combat the informal economy and the phenomenon of counterfeiting, which discourages investors. Voluntary regularisation schemes at the level of the various public economic administrations have been put in place in order to reduce the impact of this harmful, unhealthy competition.
The FCE also advocated for measures to improve access to finance, notably by modernising the banking system and improving access to industrial land. Some encouraging measures have been announced as part of the 2017 Finance Law.
Moreover, a new investment code was recently promulgated and the foreign direct investment regulation framework was readjusted. It provides additional benefits to privileged activities such as industry, agriculture and tourism, with an extension of the duration of exemptions granted to investors. In terms of land use, the project to create some 50 new industrial zones is also well under way.
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