The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
FACT SHEET: The President's Framework for Investing in Tunisia
“There's no straight line to progress, and hardship always accompanies a season of hope. But the United States of America was founded on the belief that people should govern themselves. And now we cannot hesitate to stand squarely on the side of those who are reaching for their rights, knowing that their success will bring about a world that is more peaceful, more stable, and more just.”
– President Obama, May 19, 2011
The United States strongly supports the Tunisian people as they continue to lay the foundation for a future of economic prosperity that strengthens civil society, empowers youth, and solidifies the foundation of democracy. Almost a year after igniting the Arab Spring, Tunisia is charting a path toward reform. Today, President Obama announced four new programs that will continue to support the Tunisian people:
- Peace Corps: Beginning in 2012, the Peace Corps will return to Tunisia with volunteer assignments focusing on English language training and youth skills development. These programs will help prepare Tunisian students and professionals for future employment, build local capacity, and develop citizens at the grassroots level. The return of the Peace Corps to Tunisia offers both countries the opportunity to resume a partnership with a long and productive history.
- The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC): Tunisia has been selected as eligible for the MCC Threshold Program. This partnership is recognition of Tunisia’s commitment and progress toward democracy and economic freedom. Tunisia’s inclusion in the MCC program will support the Tunisian government to work on policy reform that can lead to faster growth and generate employment, such as addressing constraints to economic growth, increasing private sector investment, and improving economic governance.
- Loan Guarantees: Tunisia has declared its commitment to private sector-led growth and attracting international investment. If authorized by Congress, the United States can provide loan guarantees at a budgetary cost of $30 million to support a significant portion of the budgetary gap, thereby enabling Tunisia to borrow from international capital markets and bring down the cost of financing Tunisia’s reform agenda.
- Enterprise Fund: Pending authorization from Congress, the United States will launch a Tunisia Enterprise Fund, providing seed money to support private sector growth. At an initial budgetary cost of $20 million, this fund will leverage other investors and help Tunisians launch the small and medium enterprises that will be the engines of long term opportunity.
In addition to these initiatives, the Administration is working to finalize several other new programs, to be implemented in 2012:
- Trade and Investment: This month, the United States and Tunisia agreed to formally re-launch discussions under our bilateral Trade and Investment Framework (TIFA). We have established joint U.S.-Tunisia working groups on bilateral trade and investment and regional economic integration that will report to an initial TIFA Council meeting, which will take place in the next few months.
- Open Government Partnership: Given the stated commitment of Tunisia to transparent, accountable, and participatory government, the U.S. will work with the Tunisian government and civil society to help Tunisia cross the threshold of eligibility for the Open Government Partnership and join the growing number of nations who are embracing openness as the new standard for governance.
- The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC): OPIC has committed $2 billion to supporting private sector investment in the Middle East and North Africa, including in Tunisia. OPIC is working to invest in small businesses and the franchising of U.S. companies in Tunisia. Additionally, OPIC is providing U.S. companies with incentives to invest in Tunisia’s renewable energy sector, notably wind and solar.
These new programs will build on the United States’ commitment of more than $55 million in non-security assistance in support of the Tunisian transition since January 2011:
- Democracy and Civil Society: The success of Tunisia’s transition depends on its ability to develop a healthy democracy. In support of the Tunisian peoples’ aspirations for democracy, prosperity and long-term political stability, the United States is providing approximately $43.3 million to support rule of law, strengthen political participatory and inclusive processes, build the capacity of civil society, and promote freedom of expression.
- Transitional Justice: Through direct support to local organizations, the U.S. is supporting a Tunisian-led consultative process on transitional justice mechanisms to redress human rights violations under the former regime.
- Private Sector Development: Private sector development contributes to a healthy economy. The United States is providing $3.8 million to support market relevant skills training, entrepreneurship, job placement, and access to start-up business resources in Tunisia.
- Humanitarian Assistance: The U.S. responded immediately to assist individuals seeking refuge in Tunisia as a result of the crisis in Libya by contributing over $3 million to the Tunisian Red Crescent, the World Food Program, and the World Health Organization to support health services, food aid, and distribution of relief commodities. Additionally, a significant portion of our $46.5 million in region-wide funding to UNHCR and IOM was used in Tunisia to meet basic humanitarian needs and repatriate stranded third-country nationals.
- Education, Culture, and Media Capacity Building: The United States responded immediately to the requests of the Tunisian people for additional links, exchanges, technical advice, and English language training with U.S. universities and scholars. Contributing over $5 million, we increased the Fulbright program in Tunisia, deployed English language specialists, established media training for over 50 Tunisian journalists, and established partnerships with a range of Tunisian universities.