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  • Author: Tchinda Kamdem Eric Joel, Kamdem Cyrille Bergaly
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: African Economic Research Consortium (AERC)
  • Abstract: Cameroonian farmers face two tenure systems: a modern regime and a customary regime. These two regimes are perpetually confronting each other, putting farmers in a total uncertainty as to the regime to adopt to ensure the sustainability of their ventures. This study aims to assess the influence of land tenure security on agricultural productivity through credit access. To achieve this goal, a two-stage sampling technique was applied to data from the third Cameroon Household Survey (ECAM 3). The number of farmers selected for the analysis was 602. These data were analysed using descriptive and three-step recursive regression models. The results of the analysis reveal that land tenure security improves agricultural productivity through the credit access it allows. A proof of the robustness of this result has been provided through discussion of the effects of land tenure security in different agro-ecological zones and through a distinction between cash crops and food crops. The overall results confirm that land tenure security positively and significantly influences agricultural productivity. The regression has also shown that the size of the farm defined in one way or another, the perception of farmers on their level of land tenure security and therefore indicates the intensity with which land tenure security influences agricultural productivity. The recorded productivity differential indicates that smallholder farmers, because they keep small farms, feel safer and produce more than those who keep medium-sized farms. The results also show that land tenure security significantly improves the value of production per hectare of food products that are globally imported into Cameroon. Therefore, we recommend that the public authorities promote land tenure security by reinforcing the unassailable and irrevocable nature of land title, but also by easing the conditions of access to it.
  • Topic: Agriculture, Development, Economics, International Political Economy, Economic structure, Economic Policy
  • Political Geography: Africa, Cameroon
  • Author: Hosuk Lee-Makiyama, Badri Narayanan Gopalakrishnan
  • Publication Date: 10-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)
  • Abstract: Regulations are an indispensable part of an economy and are proven to generate a significant impact on the economic, environment and social landscape. Through an extensive survey of literature and empirical study, the paper contrasts the benefits and costs arising in the light of the imposition of ex ante regulations of attempting to regulate a market sector, before a market failure has even occurred. It diverges from the norm of regulating ex-post, i.e. addressing market failures as they arise, which is the case in most modern open economies. The study highlights the economic impacts of shifting from ex post to ex ante in the online services sector as stipulated by the proposals for the Digital Services Act. It estimates a loss of about 85 billion EUR in GDP and 101 billion EUR in lost consumer welfare, due to a reduction in productivity, after accounting for other control variables. These costs are equivalent to losing all the gains that the EU has achieved to date from all its bilateral free trade agreements; or losing the contribution of passenger cars to the EU trade balance with the rest of the world. In the context of the pandemic-induced economic contraction, the GDP loss is equivalent to one-quarter of EU current account surplus projected for 2020. The extraordinarily high costs and rarity of ex ante rules warrant a discussion on the true objectives of the Digital Services Act. It is unclear which market failures it is envisaged to address – or how these failures can be so critical for the well-being for the European citizens, yet so irreparable and impossible to remedy ex post.
  • Topic: Economics, Environment, International Political Economy, Markets, Treaties and Agreements, Social Policy, Trade
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Florian Forsthuber, Oscar Guinea
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)
  • Abstract: A new consensus is growing across the European Union – and other parts of the world too: that globalization has gone too far. The argument goes as follows: as an exchange for higher efficiency and lower prices, Europe has sacrificed its ability to take care of itself and protect its own citizens. The Covid-19 crisis has revealed how much Europe depends on the rest of the world for products like medical goods and medicines. Therefore, if Europe does not want to live through another shortage of essential supplies, the lesson of the Covid-19 crisis is that the EU has to produce these products itself. This conclusion may sound intuitive but it is fundamentally wrong. Europe is not overly dependent on the rest of the world because most trade in the EU is done within its own borders. New evidence presented in this paper shows that there were only 112 products, making just 1.2% of the value of EU total imports, for which the four largest suppliers were non-EU countries as compared to more than two thousand products for which the four largest suppliers were from EU member states. And while not every product is equally important in the face of a global pandemic, there is not a single Covid-19 related good for which all EU imports only came from non-EU countries. This paper debunks the idea that the EU is too reliant on other countries. Instead, our analysis shows that imports from the rest of the world make every EU member state more resilient by diversifying its sources of supply. Because of their geographical location and economic integration, if there was to be a shock like a pandemic, a plague, or a nuclear disaster, groups of EU countries are likely to be hit simultaneously. Having sources of supply outside the EU is therefore critical to reduce Europe’s vulnerability to these shocks. Europe’s recent experience has shown that international trade is a strength, not a weakness, and the EU was blessed to be able to tap into the manufacturing capacity of the rest of the world to buy urgently needed medical goods from abroad during the hardest months of the pandemic. Preparing for future crisis like Covid-19 is extremely complex. Nobody knows which type of shock will come after Covid-19, which economic activities will be impacted, or what kind of goods will be needed to protect our citizens. Yet, any debate about the merits of re-shoring should be based on figures and not on narratives. This paper analyzes EU imports on more than 9,000 products and concludes that Europe should not build its resilience by the mandatory re-shoring of economic activities. That is the opposite of diversification. Besides, re-shoring will increase costs and hit citizens in the poorest countries the hardest. An economy that is served by multiple firms across multiple locations is more resilient to random shocks than one where goods are produced by fewer firms in the same location. While re-shoring may bring the illusion of control, in reality, the EU will be more vulnerable and dependent on fewer and larger companies. This is why globalization and the EU’s reliance on the rest of the world is what makes the EU more resilient.
  • Topic: Globalization, International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Economic Development
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Matthias Bauer
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)
  • Abstract: Corporate tax laws vary significantly between different jurisdictions. Over the past four decades, governments globally competed for business activity by lowering statutory and effective corporate tax rates. Many governments provide special tax incentives for businesses to invest and expand employment. Special economic zones often grant full corporate tax exemptions to stimulate commercial development. Corporate income tax incentives for research and development activities are common across countries’ corporate tax codes reflecting governments’ desire to stimulate innovation and business development. While corporate tax competition is common government practice in the world economy, the OECD currently aims to curb international corporate tax competition. The OECD’s corporate tax reform proposals officially aim to address “corporate tax avoidance” and “unfairness in taxation”. The policy debate is driven by some governments’ motivation to increase revenues from taxes on corporate income. Economic impact assessments of the OECD’s current Pillar I and II proposals are still scarce. Individual governments have so far failed to conduct impact assessments or are hesitant to make their assessments available to the general public. The OECD’s secretariat expects additional tax revenues of 100bn USD annually, which are said to be evenly distributed among the 137 countries comprising the Inclusive Framework. The narrow focus on changes in governments’ revenues and the static nature of the OECD’s analysis is in various respects misleading. This paper highlights that the proposed reforms would shift taxing powers (tax sovereignty) and economic activity away from small open economies to the world’s largest countries, of which most (currently) apply very high statutory corporate tax rates. The implementation of Pillar I and II proposals would pave the way for a global tax redistribution framework transferring financial funds away from governments that embrace free international trade and investment to the many of the world’s worst-performing governments with respect to economic openness, acceptance of the rule of law, corruption, state interventionism, and the recognition of basic human rights (e.g. Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia and Russia). Conversely, the OECD’s proposed corporate tax reforms would punish the world’s best performing economies with regard to economic freedoms, trade and investment openness and the rule of law (e.g. Estonia, the Czech Republic, Ireland, the Netherlands, Slovakia, Slovenia, Switzerland, including small city and island states, such as Hong Kong, Luxembourg and Singapore). The reforms proposed by the OECD would have a significant impact on how much and where multinational enterprises would have to pay corporate income tax in the future. The proposed measures would therefore impact where large companies produce and invest in the future. Continued tax competition would contribute to a narrowing of international corporate tax rate differentials up to the 12.5% minimum tax threshold level proposed by the OCED. The narrowing of tax rate differentials between today’s high-tax jurisdictions, of which most are very large countries, and today’s low-tax jurisdictions would direct international and domestic investments and investment-induced tax revenues away from small countries. Estimates show that inward FDI in today’s high-tax countries would increase and outward FDI would decrease. In a symmetrical way, inward FDI in today’s low-tax countries would decrease and outward FDI would increase. Overall, the shift in effective taxing powers would undermine small countries’ relative attractiveness to international businesses and, on top of that, would induce domestic businesses to relocate to larger countries with the gravity of larger markets. Contrary to claims made by the OECD, the implementation of Pillar I and II proposals would not improve the global allocation of capital. Global trade and investment flows would still be subject to tax competition and prevalent trade and investment barriers. The OECD’s current proposals would likely incentivise the governments of large countries to maintain long-standing barriers to trade and investment. The economic gravity of large countries may even incentivise large country governments to erect additional barriers that would restrict market access for companies from small open economies. For small open economies that are home to research- and knowledge-intensive multinational companies, the OECD’s proposed tax reforms would undermine future investments in R&D, innovation and business model development, with adverse implications for existing research clusters, education systems and high value-added jobs. Policymakers should reconsider whether taxes on corporate income actually contribute to governments’ overall social and economic policy objectives, such as economic development, redistribution and fairness in taxation. Replacing tax systems that include taxes on corporate income by systems that rely more or exclusively on direct taxes on labour income, capital income and consumption (VAT/sales taxes) would increase transparency about the distributional effects of taxation and significantly improve governments’ tax manoeuvrability in response to citizens’ preferences for fairer taxation. A regime change towards greater use of VAT/sales taxes would also have a positive impact on global capital allocation. Companies would no longer have to pay attention to corporate tax rate differentials, while governments would have additional invectives to embrace foreign trade and investment, materialising in lower barriers to trade and investment and a more efficient allocation of global capital respectively.
  • Topic: Government, International Political Economy, Business , Tax Systems, R&D, Corporate Tax, OECD
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Frank Lavin, Oscar Guinea
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)
  • Abstract: We are at the moment, the first in seventy-five years, where there is no international consensus in support of trade. Indeed, trade is unloved, unsupported, and even unwanted. There is no shortage of topics in the rhetoric of trade complaints: from the rapid rise of China to Coronavirus as a metaphor for the evils of greater connectivity. Regardless of the validity of these complaints, none of them negate the central truth of trade: countries that engage in trade move ahead, and those that do not, stagnate. Our political leaders disagree. Anti-trade positions are held by leaders across the political spectrum, from Donald Trump to Bernie Sanders. And yet, the public is increasingly warm to the idea of trade. When Gallup asks Americans, “Do you see foreign trade more as an opportunity for economic growth through increased U.S. exports or a threat to the economy from foreign imports?” a record high of 79% see trade as an opportunity, with 18% viewing it as a threat. How did the world arrive at this moment where the benefits of trade are clearly evidenced while trade has become politically toxic? We identify four main factors: (i) U.S. absenteeism from the leadership role; (ii) detachment between trade and security architecture; (iii) no alternative leadership in Europe or elsewhere; and (iv) the cumbersome WTO process. Against this background we put forward five initiatives that will be big enough to count but unobjectionable enough to be adopted. The Big Three. The U.S., EU, and Japan, should establish a consultative body on trade to forge a new approach that allows trade to move ahead in the absence of universal consensus. No harm, no foul. Each of the Big Three should commit to zero tariffs on any item not produced in each particular market. A de minimis strategy. Tariffs should be eliminated on all products where the current tariff is less than 2%. At that level tariffs are simply a nuisance fee. Mind the social costs. Expand the Nairobi Protocols to include health products and green tech. Scrapping import tariffs on medical and green goods would not only encourage additional trade but will also provide health and environmental benefits. Harmonize down. The Big Three should commit that on every tariff line each of the three will be no worse than the next worse. In other words, each of the Big Three will agree to reduce its tariff on every product where it has the highest tariff of the three. These actions will spur the WTO, not undermine it. The measures we propose can be set up on a plurilateral basis that would allow other trading powers to participate. By breaking away from the tyranny of universal consensus, these actions will encourage the trading community – including the WTO – to get back in forward motion. In some respect, convergence between the Big Three is already happening. The EU and Japan signed an FTA that lowers import tariffs between these two economies, while the U.S. and Japan agreed to negotiate a comprehensive FTA. And if China is willing to step up? China should be welcomed into this group if it supports the four initiatives, changing the Big Three to the Big Four.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Global Markets, Trade, WTO
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Fredrik Erixon, Matthias Bauer
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)
  • Abstract: Covid-19 and its broader implications have highlighted the importance of Europe’s digital transformation to ensure Europeans’ social and economic well-being. It provides important new learnings about Europe’s quest for “technology sovereignty”. While the debate about technology sovereignty is timely, the precise meaning of sovereignty or autonomy in the realm of technologies remains ambiguous. It should be noted that the political discussions about European technology sovereignty emerged far before the outbreak of the Coronavirus. The European Commission’s recently updated industrial and digital policy strategies “institutionalised” different notions of sovereignty, reflecting perceptions that more EU action is needed to defend perceived European values and to secure Europe’s industrial competitiveness. Often the political rhetoric reflected perceptions that Europe is losing global economic clout and geopolitical influence. It was said that dependency on technological solutions, often originating abroad, would require a European industrial and regulatory response. Against this background, the Corona crisis provides two important lessons for EU technology policymaking. Firstly, during the crisis digital technologies and solutions made European citizens stronger. Technology kept Europe open for business despite the lock-down by enabling Europeans to work from home, receive essential home deliveries, home schooling, online deliveries and to use online payments, etc. In addition, Europe’s citizens became more sovereign with respect to accessing information and data that helped track and contain the spread of the virus. Secondly, the crisis tested Europe’s resilience and perceived dependency on (foreign) technology solutions. Early developments indicate that Member States’ homemade solutions did not fare better than existing European and international solutions. A few national and EU IT solutions failed while existing European and global solutions, from cloud infrastructure to communications, payments to streaming services, all continued to work well. Politically, however, the crisis could be used to justify more EU or national government interference in Europe’s digital transformation. Indeed, for some the debate about European technology sovereignty is largely about designing prescriptive policies, which paradoxically risk reducing Europeans’ access to the innovative technologies, products and services that helped Europe through the crisis. Policies taken into consideration include new subsidies to politically picked companies, or new rules and obligations for certain online business models. Policy-makers advocating for such policies tend to ignore critical insights from the Covid-19 crisis and failed industrial policy initiatives, including sunk public investments and protracted subsidies for industrial laggards. In a time of economic hardship, the EU and national governments should be wary of spending even more taxpayer money to replicate existing world-class technology solutions, that in most cases are used in combination with local technologies, with “Made in EU” services of inferior quality and reliability. Moreover, due to different levels of economic development and differences in regulatory cultures, prescriptive technology policies would exclude many Member States from utilising existing and new opportunities that arise from digitalisation, slowing down economic renewal and convergence. The EU cannot be considered a monolithic block that thrives on a unique set of prescriptive technology policies. Before the Corona pandemic, initiatives towards European technology sovereignty were mainly pushed by France and Germany, fed by concerns over their companies’ industrial strength in times of growing economic and geopolitical competition. Industrial and technology policies favoured by the EU’s two largest countries will have a disproportionately negative impact on Europe’s smaller open economies, whose companies and citizens could be deprived from cutting-edge technologies, new economic opportunities and partnerships on global markets, undermining these economies’ development and international competitiveness. Any EU-imposed technology protectionism along the lines suggested by some policy-makers in large EU Member States would leave the entire EU worse off. It would disproportionately hurt countries in Europe’s northern, eastern and southern countries more than the large countries whose economies are generally more diverse than Europe’s smaller Member States. It would, however, make sense for the EU to agree on a shared definition of “technology sovereignty”. Different interpretations could cause serious policy inconsistencies, undermining the effectiveness of EU and national economic policies. Anchored in technological openness, technology sovereignty can indeed be a useful ambition to let Europe’s highly diverse economies leapfrog by using existing technologies. To become more sovereign in a global economy, Europeans need to focus on becoming global leaders in economic innovation – not just in regulation. If anchored in mercantilist or protectionist ideas, technological sovereignty would make it harder for many Member States to access modern technologies, adopt new business models and attract foreign investment – with adverse implications on future global competitiveness, economic renewal and economic convergence. Policymaking towards a European technology sovereignty that benefits the greatest number of Europeans – not just a few politically selected “winners” – should aim for a regulatory environment in which technology companies and technology adopters can thrive across EU Member States’ national borders. The European Single Market has deteriorated in recent years and significantly during the crisis. The new von der Leyen Commission has now repeatedly called for a strengthening of the Single Market. Becoming a world leader in innovation requires a real Single Market in which companies can scale up, with as few hurdles as possible, and then compete globally. It should be supplemented by pro-competitive policies and incentives for research and investment. Brussels cannot set the global standards in technology policymaking alone. Europe’s policy-makers should aim for closer market integration and regulatory cooperation with trustworthy international partners such as the G7 or the larger group of the OECD countries. It is in the EU’s self-interest to advocate for a rules-based international order with open markets. International cooperation should be extended beyond trade to include cooperation on technology policies, e.g. artificial intelligence. Regulatory cooperation with allies such as the USA is essential to jointly set global standards that are based on shared values. Both the EU and the US have much more to gain if they prioritise such alignment, to advance a shared vision for a revamped open international trading system, in a world increasingly influenced by regimes with fundamentally different views on state intervention and human rights. Anchored in technological openness, the EU and the US can promote technology sovereignty that allows for development and renewal elsewhere in the world.
  • Topic: Industrial Policy, International Political Economy, Science and Technology, Sovereignty, European Union, COVID-19
  • Political Geography: United States, Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Philipp Lamprecht, Fredrik Erixon
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: European Centre for International Political Economy (ECIPE)
  • Abstract: There is now a long history of countries improving sustainability standards in most parts of the economy while at the same time pursuing the ambitions of rules-based international trade and economic integration with other countries. It is not surprising that countries at the vanguard of sustainability also tend to be the countries that are most open to trade. This Report looks closer at the interplay between the formulation of domestic standards and provisions in Free Trade Agreements that either acknowledge domestic standards or establish standards in a direct way. This interplay is crucial for two reasons: first to establish market access arrangements that help to promote sustainability standards, second to provide the policy basis to make standards and possible market access restrictions conducive to basic trade rules. It lays a focus particularly on the growing importance of sustainability standards in international trade agreements, or Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) – in particular for the food sector. Such standards are relevant for all new high-ambition Free Trade Agreements – from the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership between eleven trans-pacific nations. The Report considers especially nine modern FTAs. The purpose of the Report is to investigate how governments with high sustainability ambitions approach the issue of trade and sustainability – in particular how they work with, on the one hand, specific provisions in FTAs and, on the other hand, the development of domestic standards and their linkage to trade. The Report also looks directly at how these standards are designed, and what lessons that can be learned for governments that want to raise sustainability ambitions. It puts the results of the analysis in the context of Norwegian ambitions to improve its sustainability standards for food placed on the Norwegian market. The analysis of how trade and sustainability have been made compatible starts with the rules of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). These rules are important in their own right, but they also carry political significance. WTO-rules form the basis of the bilateral free trade agreements that countries sign with each other – and that now make up the main plank of international trade negotiations. In the language of the WTO, basic trade rules serve to protect the principles of national treatment and non-discrimination. Sustainability policies that are grounded on solid evidence and that follow international scientific norms will be compatible with WTO rules. Sustainability policies that confer advantages to domestic producers or that are arbitrary will get a harsh treatment. Consequently, the bilateral free trade deals that the European Union or the European Free Trade Area (EFTA) have concluded with other parts of the world are not just compatible with WTO rules, they rely on these rules as the foundation stone. Moreover, these rules inform governments how they should organise their sustainability policy if they also want the opportunity to take part in modern trade agreements. If countries aren’t willing to play by these rules, they should also accept that they won’t be able to enjoy the benefits of trade agreements. What member countries of the WTO have agreed in past multilateral trade accords are not a blockage of sustainability policy, but they bar countries from pursuing such policies in a way that would lead to unequal application of trade rules – between home and foreign producers, or between different foreign producers. In addition, it is of interest – also to the Norwegian policy discussion – to consider how EU policies are likely to change in the forceable future. The analysis provides a discussion of issues that are likely to remain very high on the agenda of the next European Commission. These include possible improvements in the TSD Chapters of trade agreements in particular with regard to enforcement mechanisms, the engagement of civil society, and climate action. Further policy highlights include a possible introduction of a carbon border tax, as well as the discussions related to due diligence of supply chains, and multilateralism. In terms of conclusions, the Report identifies four main observations that should inform future policy development in Norway: First, there is clearly a case to be made for aligning Norwegian trade policy to EU trade policy when it comes to provisions on trade and sustainability in Free Trade Agreements. Second, there is a substantial body of scientific evidence, risk assessments and international experience of standards in areas that are related to sanitary and phyto-sanitary standards and to environmental standards which any government that want to raise sustainability standards can draw on. Third, many countries struggle to formulate their domestic sustainability standards in a structured way. Arguably, this is a critical point for governments that are considering to introduce higher standards with consequence for market access for foreign producers. To avoid confusion or accusation of standards being a disguised trade restrictions, countries like Norway would have to structure and systematise its standards if the ambitions were to be raised and formed part of market access policy. A first step for a policy that seeks to condition import on the compliance with a stand is to make the standard clear and explicit. Fourth, there are direct and indirect relations between domestic standards and provisions in FTAs. FTAs often deal with policies that cannot be directly formulated in a domestic standard, like some aspects of labour laws. They also deal with other forms of standards that need policy convergence in order to guarantee smooth trade between the contracting parties. Generally, it cannot be said that the EU or other entities use FTAs to “regulate” or to establish the standard. That rather happens bottom-up – through domestic regulations that later get reflected in trade agreements.
  • Topic: International Political Economy, International Trade and Finance, Partnerships, Global Markets, Free Trade, Trade, Sustainability
  • Political Geography: Europe, Global Focus
  • Author: Michael D Bordo
  • Publication Date: 09-2018
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: The Cato Institute
  • Abstract: The Dodd Frank Act of 2010 (DFA) was designed to overcome the sources of excessive leverage and systemic risk in the U.S. financial sector perceived to have created the Great Financial Crisis of 2007–2008. Since then, considerable controversy has swirled around the efficacy of various components of the multifaceted act. Many have been critical of the Volcker Rule, while others have praised the elevation of capital ratios and the requirements for banks to undergo periodic stress tests. However, there has been mounting concern in the financial community, Congress, and the press over the negative impact of the DFA regulations on small banks and businesses.
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: America
  • Author: Geoffrey Gertz, Homi Kharas
  • Publication Date: 02-2018
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: The Brookings Institution
  • Abstract: The past 15 years saw the most rapid decline in global poverty ever, with the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the global poverty rate reached several years ahead of schedule. Building on this, governments around the world committed to a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including ending extreme poverty everywhere by 2030.
  • Topic: International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Hatem Chakroun
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Arab Reform Initiative (ARI)
  • Abstract: The interaction between Tunisian human rights organizations and movements struggling for economic and social rights present the former with hard questions and important challenges. Human rights actors need to scrutinize their role and tactics to decide whether they would remain in the fast eroding mediation level (between the movements and the state) or they could explore other avenues that can address the complex issues of representation and brokerage between human rights defenders and the bearers of these very rights who are busy developing new ways of defending themselves.
  • Topic: Human Rights, International Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Tunisia