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The EBRD, the EU and the Tunisian Ministry of Trade join forces to support competitive services

By Nibal Zgheib

On Monday 2 May 2016, under the patronage of His Excellency Mr Mohsen Hassen, Tunisian Minister of Trade, and in the presence of Her Excellency Ms Laura Baeza, the European Union (EU) Ambassador to Tunisia, and Ms Marie-Alexandra Veilleux-Laborie, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) Head of Office in Tunisia, the EBRD officially launched a programme of activities to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in the services sectors. This initiative is part of the PACS Programme (Programme d’Appui à la Compétitivité des Services) which has been granted funding by the EU amounting to €20 million, €10 million of which will be allocated by the EBRD.

The EBRD will use this sum of €10 million to mobilise its network of local and international experts to provide direct support to Tunisian SMEs and professional bodies in the services sectors (transport and logistics, ICT, professional services, tourism and craft industries). The Bank will also provide advice and technical assistance in the areas of strategy, organisation, human resources, IT systems, quality systems, engineering and promoting exports.

During the programme’s launch, His Excellency Mr Mohsen Hassen said: “The idea of entrusting this task to the EBRD arose after analysing the initial results of their Advice for Small Businesses programme in Tunisia following its launch in December 2012, and based on our firm belief that the approach was tailored to the situation in Tunisia.”

Her Excellency Ms Laura Baeza, said: “The PACS programme, which provides direct, tailor-made support to SMEs and the agencies supporting SMEs, is a fine example of the cooperation between our two institutions. It highlights once again the extensive interest the EU has in the inclusive development of the Tunisian economy and in boosting the competitiveness of its businesses.”

“The PACS programme has set itself very ambitious objectives,” added Marie-Alexandra Veilleux-Laborie. “It will benefit some 500 businesses directly, providing training to 200 female and 150 male CEOs. The professional organisations in the relevant sectors are also eligible for technical assistance.”

The EBRD has been investing in Tunisia since 2012 and has funded more than 20 projects in the private sector to the tune of some €300 million. The EBRD has also supported more than 220 Tunisian SMEs by providing technical assistance.

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