As Tunisia continue to chart a democratic future after the successful revolution, the United States remains a committed partner in working with the Tunisian government, private sector, and civil society to develop institutions of governance, and in laying the economic foundations for Tunisia to thrive as a 21st century democracy.
The U.S. government is an ardent supporter of Tunisia’s democratic progress and economic success, hoping it will set an example for other countries in the region that have overthrew autocratic rulers.
On October 2011, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton vowed to help the Tunisians as they pursue a more peaceful, prosperous and democratic future.
Since the Revolution, the United States has committed approximately $190 million in total assistance to support Tunisia’s transition which focused on technical and financial assistance to Tunisia’s economy and private sector.
In addition, the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation is working to invest roughly $150 million in Tunisia. The United States Overseas Private Investment Corporation has exteded financial support in the form of direct loans, guarantees, and political risk insurance for the Tunisians.
Today, the United States will extend a guarantee for international loans or bonds that the Tunisian government will issue to raise funds to support its stabilization and economic reform plans.
According to the US State Department, the U.S. Congress has appropriated $30 million for this purpose, which can support several hundred million dollars in new financing for the Tunisian government. Technical discussions are continuing with the goal of finalizing a loan guarantee agreement in the next few months.
In area of expanding economic and employment opportunities in Tunisia, the U.S. is requesting from Congress a $770 million fund to support Tunisia and other transitioning MENA states in their plans to spur economic growth and inward investment, as well as to expand private-sector job and skills training opportunities, and build effective, democratic governance.
In the area of information communications technology sector development, with an initial $ 8 million, this program will position Tunisia’s ICT sector as a catalyst for private-sector growth and job creation.
The program will support a range of ICT enterprises from export-oriented medium enterprises to small firms and start-ups. The project will train and support thousands of Tunisians across several skill sets and job-placement initiatives.
The United States also gives importance on youth entrepreneurship and employability. The United States is providing assistance to more than 4,500 Tunisian youth in market-relevant skills training, job placement, and access to start-up business resources.
The U.S. government has been exploring many other ideas for economic assistance that can be provided through other government agencies like USAID. Tunisia is also eligible to be considered for a Millennium Challenge Account grant.
The revolution has oustedTunisian president Ben Ali after 23 years of dictatorship.
After weeks of civil unrest that began in protest of the country’s high level of corruption and unemployment and became a referendum on the President himself, Tunisian President Ben Ali fled the country lasy January 2011.
Ben Ali’s government exercised authoritarian rule since seizing power in a coup in 1987. The government harassed, arrested, and imprisoned journalists and bloggers, human rights activists, and political opponents of the government preventing the existence of any real opposition to exist challenge the system.