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European funds target Tunisia's economic recovery

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) will soon begin financing major investment projects in Tunisia.

"By the beginning of September, we expect to begin investments in Tunisia in a number of projects," bank head Thomas Mirow said last week in Tunis after meeting with government officials.

The bank will offer financial resources, as well as expertise in the fields of democratisation and market economies, to stimulate the country's economic growth after the January 14th revolution, the ERBD chief said at the conclusion of his two-day visit on Friday (May 4th).

The European bank is expected to loan 100 million euros to Arab Spring countries Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt and Jordan in 2012 and 5.2 billion euros throughout their remaining democratic transition periods, beginning in 2013.

"The bank is currently focusing its efforts on exploring promising projects in the Tunisian economy, particularly in sectors related to renewable energies," Mirow said.

Interim Tunisian Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali welcomed the ERBD assistance. Its experience in supporting small and medium enterprises and private sector development will enable the promotion of employment and contribute to Tunisia's development objectives, he said.

Jebali said that taking advantage of technical and material aid provided by the bank would pave the way for future projects of common interest.

A Tunisia branch of the EBRD will also open soon. Tunisia became eligible for a branch when it became one of the organisation's 63 members last December.

Minister of Investment and International Co-operation Riadh Bettaieb stressed at the time that Tunisia's accession to the global financial institution was an important milestone. The EBRD would accompany Tunisia in its new democratic experience and help it achieve necessary economic and political reforms, Bettaieb said in January.

Through its Tunisia branch, the EBRD will be able to complete investment projects in infrastructure, the banking sector, SMEs, alternative energy and transport: all of which will help create new jobs.

Since the ERBD funds will be distributed to Arab Spring countries based on the anticipated success of the projects, Tunisia is currently looking at projects that would most likely maximise economic growth. Those chosen will receive immediate bank assistance.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development was created in 1991. Management of the bank is overseen by its member countries, the European Union and the European Investment Bank.

This content was commissioned for Magharebia.com.

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