Tunisia - "As a country of mainly emigration, Tunisia could expand bilateral and regional mobility schemes to facilitate regular emigration and maximise gains at home and destination," reads a the World Bank (WB)'s Fall 2023 Economic Monitor of Tunisia published Monday under the title "Migration amid Challenging Economic Context".

Authored by a team led by Massimiliano Calì (Senior Economist, MTI) and Mohamed Habib Zitouna (Consultant, MTI), the report further reads that emigration is becoming an increasingly important strategy for Tunisians to cope with the challenging economic and social situation in the country. There is need to provide perspective emigrants with access to legal migration pathways. This access is crucial to ensure legal guarantees and protection against abuse, access to a range of services in destination countries.

To do so Tunisia could consider tailoring labour agreements with host countries facing labour shortages or rising labour demand.

"Tunisia and partner destination countries can rely on lessons learned from previous experiences, including the skill partnership for the mobility of nurses that has been in place between Germany and Tunisia since 2013," the WB pointed out.

The largest and oldest bilateral scheme in Tunisia—the TunisianFrench agreement signed in 2008—includes about 9,000 spots each year for workers with competences and skills that are not met in the French labor market.

According to the Office for Tunisians Abroad (OTE), the estimated stock of Tunisians residing abroad in 2022 was double the UN number (1.8 million), the WB added.

The WB further indicated that Tunisian emigrants have been sharing some of these gains with families and communities in Tunisia through remittances.

"In the last decades, remittances have been the largest financial inflow to Tunisia, reaching 6.6 percent of GDP in 2021-22, several times larger than both Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and official development assistance.

Some of the outward-bound migrants have come back to Tunisia, bringing back skills and capital to invest, although fewer return than those who emigrate, particularly among the high-skilled.

"Over the medium- to long-run, the importance of attracting migrants to Tunisia will increase given the demographic transition underway, and even enhance the economic benefits for the immigrants, including employment rights and residency privileges comparable to those of nationals.

"For instance, Austria, Germany, Portugal, Sweden, and the United Arab Emirates have established job search visas according to which foreign workers who meet specific criteria are allowed entry for the purpose of finding employment," the WB pointed out.

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