By Sami Zaptia.
London, 21 April 2020:
Tunisia’s Ministry of Agriculture announced yesterday that the Interprofessional Fruit Group (GIF) and the TuniShip shipping company will launch the direct shipping line between the port of Sfax and the port of Tripoli on 26 April 2020.
The Ministry said that the new shipping line is part of its preparations for the new fresh and seasonal fruit export season and is needed because of the continued closure of Tunisia’s land borders with Libya and Algeria preventing the flow of exports as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.
The journey to Tripoli will last 48 hours and prices will depend on the volume of containers transported. “Regular container owners (15-16 tonnes) will pay $1,525 (276 millimes/kg), while refrigerated containers (15-16 tonnes) will be transported for $3,350 (607 millimes/kg),” the ministry said.
The new service had been announced earlier this month by Tunisia’s Ministry of Transport. It had said that the move comes as part of “supporting Tunisian exporters and urging them to seek new markets, facilitate international transfers and develop trade relations between Tunisia and Libya, following measures taken at border crossings to counter the spread of the CORONA virus”.
It will be recalled that 42 percent of Tunisian fruit exports up to August 2019 were destined to Libya.
To underscore the negative effect of the border closure between the two countries on bilateral trade, 180 trucks loaded with Tunisian goods destined for Libya are currently still stranded, after a month, on the border crossing due to anti-Coronavirus measures.
The trucks are loaded mostly with foodstuffs in anticipation of the peak demand month of Ramadan. On 16 April, the Tripoli Chamber of Commerce called on the Libyan government to solve the crisis and held it responsible for any further delays.