The European Investment Bank (EIB), the European Union's financing institution, announces loans totalling ECU 80 million (1) to the Republic of Tunisia for developing the private sector and enhancing water resource infrastructure.

  • ECU 50 million will serve to provide medium and long-term financing for enterprises in the manufacturing and service sectors which are in the process of restructuring and upgrading and are investing in schemes to expand and modernise their business. Access to this credit line is open to the entire Tunisian financial sector, and acceptable intermediaries will be responsible for identifying beneficiaries and will onlend the proceeds to investing enterprises in local currency. It will initially be made available to the following financial intermediaries: Amen Bank, Banque de développement économique de la Tunisie, Banque de Tunisie, Banque internationale arabe de Tunisie and Union des banques pour le commerce et l'industrie. Deployment by other banks in 1999 is anticipated. With this loan, the EIB is supporting the Tunisian authorities' policy of fostering development of a more open economy. This operation is designed to assist Tunisian enterprises in preparing for liberalisation of the economy with a view to the gradual establishment of a free trade area with the European Union. It complements the ECU 15 million operation signed in October 1997 in support of privatisation of public enterprises and those mounted by the EIB in October 1995 and December 1997 for ECU 8 million and ECU 15 million from risk capital resources. This brings the amount committed by the EIB in support of the overall upgrading programme for Tunisian enterprise to ECU 88 million.
  • ECU 30 million will help fund an investment programme to build small earth hill dams in rural areas throughout Tunisia for supplying water for irrigation and households. The project financed will form part of the national plan to optimise use of water resources in Tunisia through the installation of small-scale water distribution facilities across a large part of the country with a view to meeting the needs of rural communities and bringing local social and economic benefits.

The EIB is playing a pivotal role in implementing the European Union's "Euro-Mediterranean Partnership" and achieving its priority objectives. The Bank has been entrusted with a mandate for the period 1997-2000 to provide up to ECU 2 310 million of funding for projects in the 12 non-EU Mediterranean countries which have signed cooperation and/or association agreements with the Union. The framework contract governing EIB operations in Tunisia under this mandate was signed in July 1997. Since 1992, the EIB has advanced loans totalling ECU 510 million in Tunisia to finance a variety of industrial, agricultural processing, transport and environmental projects.

(1) The conversion rates used by the EIB for statistical purposes during the current quarter are those obtaining on 30 September 1998, when ECU 1 = TND 1.27820.