EBRD President commends Tunisia’s democratic resilience

By Nibal Zgheib

EBRD President commends Tunisia’s democratic resilience

President visits Tunis for talks with country’s leadership

EBRD President Suma Chakrabarti has commended Tunisia for its successful political transition and the resilience of its democracy in the face of many challenges imposed by the instability in the region during a visit to the capital Tunis on Monday.

The President also congratulated the authorities on taking major steps towards economic reform under difficult conditions. He emphasised the importance of staying on course with reforms and improvements to the country's investment climate.

During his visit President Chakrabarti spoke with the country’s leadership about increasing the EBRD’s support for Tunisia’s economic transition and stepping up the implementation of public-private partnerships in infrastructure and renewables.

He emphasised that in addition to its investments 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.

The Tunisian authorities raised the importance of sub-Saharan markets for their companies, especially those seeking international expansion and diversification from traditional export markets in Europe. They expressed their interest in the EBRD’s support for Tunisian companies in this drive.

“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. This shows our commitment to Tunisia, and that we're here to stay. Now we want to expand our work in the country, especially with the Tunisian 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.

The EBRD delegation included Doug Nevison, Board Director for Tunisia, Alain Pilloux, Vice President, Banking, Janet Heckman, Managing Director for the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean region, and Antoine Sallé de Chou, Head of the EBRD office in Tunisia.

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 and financing of private enterprises, support energy efficiency and develop a sustainable energy sector, as well as facilitate non-sovereign financing for infrastructure development.

To date, the Bank has also supported 530 small and medium-sized enterprises in the country, with business advisory services.