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EBRD supports growth in Tunisian foreign trade

By Anthony Williams

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The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development is helping Tunisia expand international and intra-regional trade by providing a US$ 10 million trade finance facility to Banque Tuniso-Koweitienne (BTK).

The trade facility will enable BTK to obtain EBRD guarantees and to offer finance with longer maturities to its clients. The EBRD support will also allow BTK to provide cash advances to finance transactions linked to both exports and imports and to facilitate the local distribution of imported goods.

EBRD President Sir Suma Chakrabarti, speaking at a signing ceremony in Tunisia, said: "This transaction underscores our commitment to Tunisia, by providing finance that will help it pursue crucial trade-led growth. Together with BTK we will reach out to Tunisian exporters and importers and help increase the volume of trade between Tunisia and other countries."

Houssein Mouelhi, BTK’s General Manager, said, “With the EBRD’s trade finance facility we will be able to support the import and export business of Tunisian SMEs and their ability to target new opportunities, especially in countries with which there are no trade links yet. Expanding trade will thus strengthen Tunisia’s SME sector and create new jobs.”

Technical cooperation projects will accompany this trade finance facility, to transfer know-how and pass on best practices in trade finance.

Launched in 1999, the Trade Facilitation Programme (TFP) aims to promote foreign trade to, from and among the EBRD’s countries of operations. Through this Programme, the EBRD provides guarantees to international confirming banks and short-term loans to selected banks and factoring companies for on-lending to local exporters, importers and distributors.

The TFP currently includes over 100 partner banks in 22 countries where the Bank invests, with limits exceeding €1.5 billion in total, and more than 800 confirming banks worldwide.

Banque Tuniso-Koweitienne a joint stock company incorporated in Tunisia, established in March 1981.The bank was privatised in 2008 through the sale of 60 per cent of the company’s shares to the French banking group, BPCE, with the Tunisian state and Kuwait Investment Authority each retaining a 20 per cent stake.

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