EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti has commended Tunisia for its successful political transition and the resilience of its democracy in the face of the many challenges imposed by instability in the region, during a recent visit to the country’s capital of Tunis.
The President congratulated the Tunisian authorities on taking major steps towards economic reform under difficult conditions.
He emphasised that in addition to its investments in Tunisia the EBRD was also providing institutional support for reforms: “Our work with the new Investment Authority is one example of this form of support.”
The EBRD had a record year in Tunisia in 2017, investing over €300 million in 12 projects.
“Tunisia has strong potential,” President Chakrabarti said. “It is an excellent example for political stability and democracy. The EBRD has been here for five years now. We have built our operations and entrenched our presence during the process of political transition. Now we want to expand our work in the country, especially with the private sector. But in addition to the opportunities, we do see the challenges, and our work is in line with the authorities’ 2016-20 development plan. This will be reflected in the EBRD country strategy for Tunisia, which will be finalised in the coming few months.”
During his visit President Chakrabarti met Tunisia’s President Beji Caid Essebsi, Prime Minister Youssef Chahed, Minister of Development, Investment and International Cooperation and EBRD Governor Zied Ladhari, and Minister of Finance Ridha Chalghoum.
Since the EBRD began operations in Tunisia in September 2012, the Bank has invested over €640 million across 32 projects in the country. The Bank’s investments aim to support the restructuring and strengthening of the financial sector; financing private enterprises; assist energy efficiency programmes and helping Tunisia develop a sustainable energy sector, as well as facilitating non-sovereign financing for infrastructural development. To date, the Bank has also supported 530 small and medium-sized enterprises in the country, with business advisory services.
The Bank has, in addition, recently agreed to provide a comprehensive financial package to Union Bancaire pour le Commerce et l’Industrie (UBCI), a commercial bank in Tunisia, to further support the expansion and development of the local economy.
The package consists of a €30 million credit line for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), a trade finance limit of up to $10 million and a risk-sharing framework of up to €10 million.
The loan will be on-lent to SMEs to increase their access to much-needed funding. These businesses are the engine of the Tunisian economy, accounting for 90 per cent of all firms. They are therefore vital to provide jobs, build a modern diverse economy and to boost long-term, sustainable growth.
The trade finance limit will enable UBCI to engage in supporting exports and imports by Tunisian companies under the EBRD’s Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP).
UBCI is the first bank with which the EBRD has signed a risk-sharing facility in the southern and eastern Mediterranean (SEMED) region.