The United States strongly supports the Tunisian people and their progress toward a future of economic prosperity that strengthens civil society, empowers women and youth, and solidifies the foundation of democracy. Since the January 2011 revolution, the United States has committed more than $400 million to support Tunisia’s transition, focusing heavily on technical and financial assistance to Tunisia’s economy and private sector, support for security in the country and along its borders, and support for its civil society and democratic practices. Examples of U.S. initiatives include:
Loan Guarantee: Tunisia has committed to private sector-led growth and attracting international investment. President Obama has declared his intent for the United States to provide another sovereign loan guarantee to Tunisia, enabling the Tunisian government to raise approximately $500 million from international capital markets at favorable rates. The guarantee underscores U.S. support for Tunisia’s transition and helps to strengthen Tunisia’s ability to implement economic reforms and lay the groundwork for broad-based, economic growth. The United States backed a $485 million loan guarantee in 2012.
Trade and Investment: The United States and Tunisia seek to broaden and deepen bilateral trade and business relations. To that end, the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council will next meet on June 16 in Tunis. The TIFA Council will address specific issues aimed at facilitating trade and investment, including market access, entrepreneurship, information and communication technology sectors, and intellectual property and will explore additional ideas for building a more robust bilateral trade and investment relationship.
Information Communication Technology (ICT) Development: The United States is supporting a multi-year project to help position Tunisia’s ICT sector as a catalyst for private-sector growth and job creation. The program has already resulted in approximately 2,600 new, permanent jobs for Tunisians across several skill sets using job-placement initiatives and business expansion initiatives while improving the overall business environment for ICT firms, and helping expand the ICT sector.
Supporting Local Entrepreneurship and Youth Employment: The Center for Entrepreneurial and Executive Development (CEED) project provides $2.9 million in small grants to identify, train, connect, and sustain local entrepreneurs and provides training centers for entrepreneurs. An additional $10 million in economic assistance programming is training youth entrepreneurs, placing marginalized youth in post-training employment, supporting the launch and expansion of women-led small and medium enterprises, and partnering with the Tunisian private sector and government bodies to encourage economic growth. Over the next year, the United States will continue to support economic assistance projects, particularly those that partner with women entrepreneurs and provides assistance to small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
U.S.-Maghreb Entrepreneurship Conference: Recognizing the central role of the private sector in creating economic growth, the United States and Tunisia will organize a United States-Maghreb Entrepreneurship Conference in Tunis this fall, which will bring a high-level U.S. business and government delegation to Tunisia.
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) SME Loan Guarantee Facility: Tunisia’s franchising sector has been underserved, partly due to the shortage of available credit for SMEs) This $50 million OPIC loan guaranty facility will guarantee a portion of local currency denominated loans made by Tunisian financial institutions to SMEs, franchisees, and their suppliers. The project will stimulate growth in Tunisia’s private sector resulting in job creation and improved supply chains. Additionally, OPIC is currently completing due diligence on a “green” hotel project in Tunisia. This project will help support Tunisia’s efforts to develop its tourism and hospitality sector, in an effort to promote the private sector and boost GDP.
Tunisian-American Enterprise Fund: The United States launched a Tunisian-American Enterprise Fund with $40 million in 2013, which will provide seed money to support private sector growth over the next 10 years. The fund will leverage other investors and help Tunisians launch the small and medium enterprises that will be the engines of long-term opportunity.
Thomas Jefferson Scholarship Program: This $10 million initiative launched in 2012 is sending approximately 400 Tunisian undergraduate students for one academic year of undergraduate studies at U.S. universities and community colleges. This year, the United States plans to double this program with an additional $10 million, pending Congressional approval. This Tunisia scholarship program enhances youth employability, promotes direct people-to-people engagement, and furthers long-term economic growth in Tunisia by developing human capital.
Democratic Governance and Civil Society: The United States is providing nearly $50 million to strengthen participatory and inclusive political processes, build the capacity of civil society to stay connected to citizens through ongoing civic education and engagement, and promote freedom of expression. The United States is committed to supporting Tunisia’s democratic process, and has identified over $6 million in additional elections assistance for the 2014 elections.
Open Government Partnership (OGP): The United States provided technical support in the lead up to Tunisia joining the OGP and is supporting the Tunisian government and civil society to implement Tunisia’s first action plan for the OGP, which brings together a growing number of nations who are embracing openness as the new standard for governance. The United States is prioritizing programs to promote transparency.
Education, Culture, and Media Capacity Building: These programs include over $2.25 million creating linkages between eight U.S. and Tunisian universities as well $1.15 million to fund 2-year English language scholarships for over 800 underprivileged Tunisian youth in 12 schools throughout Tunisia. In 2013 the United States sent over 250 Tunisian students and professionals to the United States to participate in exchange programs to strengthen the friendship between our countries and to create greater educational, cultural, and economic opportunities between our countries.
PNB-NAPEO Chapter: Launched in June 2011, the Tunisia Local Chapter of the Partners for a New Beginning’s North Africa Partnership for Economic Opportunity has been working to identify regional and local economic opportunities, foster advances in science and technology, and enhance educational opportunities through public-private partnerships.
Equal Futures Partnership: Tunisia was a founding member of the Equal Futures Partnership, an innovative U.S.-led multi-lateral platform designed to drive country commitments including legal, regulatory, and policy reforms to ensure women fully participate in public life at the local, regional, and national levels, and that they lead and benefit from inclusive economic growth.
Security and Justice Sector Reform: The United States is working with Tunisia to enhance the capacities of its security forces to collect and analyze crime data. The United States will help the police establish community and media relations offices, update inspector general processes, and modernize police training and academy operations. In the justice sector, the United States will work to strengthen judicial integrity and independence, in part by improving the technical capacity of judicial and legal personnel to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate complex criminal matters, including corruption and financial crimes. The United States also will support strengthening Tunisia’s corrections system to effectively and properly incarcerate offenders. This complements our immediate efforts to bolster basic capacities through the provision of training and equipment to meet emergent needs in combating terrorism and transnational organized crime. The United States has dedicated more than $30 million to support these activities since 2011.
Military Cooperation: Encompassing a broad range of activities including Foreign Military Financing and International Military Education and Training, the United States has provided more than $100 million since 2011 to help professionalize and improve the capabilities of the Tunisian armed forces.
Anti-Terrorism Assistance: The United States has provided nearly $6 million in training for law enforcement agencies in Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013 to combat international terrorists and terrorist organizations while respecting international human rights norms. The United States has provided an additional $5 million in equipment such as unmanned aerial systems, mobile crime labs and command units, and vehicles to the Ministry of Interior.