Tunisia: China Pursuing Infrastructure, Phosphate Projects

by | Jan 5, 2024 | Diplomacy, Economic, Political, Social, Tunisia


In early January 2024, the Tunisian government announced progress with Chinese companies on multiple investment projects, including a bridge construction project in Bizerte and phosphate mining in El Kef. 

On 3 January 2024, the Tunisian Ministry of Equipment and Housing announced that state-owned Chinese firm Sichuan Road and Bridge Group had been awarded a 610 million dinar ($195 million) contract to build a new bridge in Bizerte. The project is expected to begin in early 2024 and is expected to take over three years to complete. 

Meanwhile, in early January 2024, representatives of the Sino-Arab Chemical Fertilizers Company, a subsidiary of China Blue Chemical Ltd., met with officials from Tunisia’s Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Energy to discuss exploitation of the Sra Ouertane phosphate deposit. The deposit, located in El Kef governate, is one of the largest in Tunisia and has yet to be exploited.


China has made significant inroads across North Africa, taking on large scale infrastructure projects that are outside of the capacity of domestic industry. These projects continue to deepen ties between China and North African countries, including Tunisia, even as Europe grows increasing skeptical of Chinese partnerships.  

In December 2024, Italy announced plans to withdraw from China’s Belt and Road Initiative, a massive initiative to connect China to European and Asian countries through trade and infrastructure development. 

European financing for Tunisia’s economic recovery has become increasingly tenuous as most potential creditors have tied loans to an IMF loan that would require substantive, but politically untenable, economic reforms. A broadening relationship with China could lead to additional funding opportunities for Tunisia’s state-managed economy, though not likely with enough urgency to address short-term budget shortfalls. 


Explore our services or speak with our team of North Africa-based risk experts.