Tunisia receives billion-dollar pledges for struggling economy

  • November 30, 2016

Qatar has pledged $1.25 billion in aid to support Tunisia’s ailing economy. The announcement was made by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at the opening of the Tunisia investment conference..

Nearly six years after its Arab Spring revolution, Tunisia hopes the meeting will help it confront challenges including high unemployment, low growth and a tourism sector hammered by jihadist attacks.

Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani pledged $1.25bn in financial support at the opening session.

He said the money would “support the Tunisian economy and strengthen its process of development”.

Valls, on a two-day visit to Tunisia, met President Beji Caid Essebsi and Prime Minister Youssef Chahed on Monday evening.

Chahed’s government took office in August in place of an administration heavily criticised for its economic management.

Tunisia appears to be the only country in the Arab world not to have recovered from the 2011 Arab spring as it is still grappling with low growth and high levels of unemployment.

That followed a catastrophic 2015 in which attacks claimed by the Islamic State group killed 59 foreign visitors and 13 Tunisians, dealing a devastating blow to the key tourism industry.

Strikes and social unrest have also hit strategic sectors including phosphate mining.

A big amount of the workforce was unemployed in the spring of 2016 according to the World Bank – many of them young graduates, who have seen the hope of the Arab Spring dissipate.

The government hopes the conference, attended by more than 2 000 business, finance and political leaders from 40 countries, will attract billions of dollars of much-needed investment.

Tunisia is expecting to sign deals worth some 10 billion Tunisian dinars ($4.3 billion) during the conference to finance economic projects.

Representatives from some 40 countries and some 2000 businesses are in Tunisia for the event.

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