The International Monetary Fund has begun negotiations with Tunisia on a loan programme, a senior IMF official said last week. Masood Ahmed, IMF director for the Middle East and North Africa, told reporters he hoped to report progress in the talks with Tunisia by early this month (February). Tunisia, whose uprising two years ago sparked political changes across North Africa, said in November it was seeking a $2.5bn loan from the IMF.

Ahmed confirmed current discussions are trying to establish the government’s funding needs. Tunisia’s newly elected Islamist-led government has sought to revive the economy in the face of declining trade with the crisis-hit euro zone and domestic political disputes over the future of the North African Arab state. Tourism, which was a healthy foreign currency earner is known to have been particularly hard hit since the events of 2011.