EU to Lend Tunisia 450 Mln Euros for Budget Support, Commissioner Says

Residents wearing face masks shop for the Ramadan in Tunis, April 23, 2020. (AP)
Residents wearing face masks shop for the Ramadan in Tunis, April 23, 2020. (AP)
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EU to Lend Tunisia 450 Mln Euros for Budget Support, Commissioner Says

Residents wearing face masks shop for the Ramadan in Tunis, April 23, 2020. (AP)
Residents wearing face masks shop for the Ramadan in Tunis, April 23, 2020. (AP)

The European Union said on Tuesday it will lend Tunisia 450 million euros ($500 million) to support its budget as the North African country faces a looming crisis in public finances for which it is seeking an international rescue package.

Speaking after a meeting with Tunisian government officials in Tunis, the EU commissioner for enlargement, Oliver Varhelyi, said the money would be sent by April and included 300 million euros allocated last year.

Credit rating agency Fitch this month downgraded Tunisian sovereign debt to junk status and the investment bank Morgan Stanley said it expected the government to default on loans.

Tunisia's public finances were already stretched before the pandemic and political turmoil since President Kais Saied suspended parliament and moved to one-man rule last year has delayed efforts to seek additional help.

The Ukraine war has aggravated the government's problems, causing price rises in fuel and grains, which are both subsidized in Tunisia.

The impact of those price rises on Tunisia's budget will be slightly less than 5 billion dinars ($1.7 billion) this year, the economy minister Samir Saied told Reuters.

Varhelyi also said the EU had allocated 200 million euros to Maghreb countries - which also include Algeria and Morocco - to help alleviate the impact of grain shortages resulting from the Ukraine crisis.



Saudi, British Companies Seek to Explore Sustainable Partnerships

Participants in the Great Futures Initiative conference which was recently held in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Participants in the Great Futures Initiative conference which was recently held in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Saudi, British Companies Seek to Explore Sustainable Partnerships

Participants in the Great Futures Initiative conference which was recently held in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Participants in the Great Futures Initiative conference which was recently held in Riyadh (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Several major national companies are participating in the UK-Saudi Sustainable Infrastructure Summit in London on June 24-26.

According to information made available to Asharq Al-Awsat, the Federation of Saudi Chambers is seeking to mobilize the largest possible number of companies specialized in sustainable infrastructure to explore partnerships with the United Kingdom in green construction, smart cities, and technologies.

The summit will address topics that touch on the importance of Saudi-British cooperation in developing and financing sustainable infrastructure and development of cities, in addition to green technology and renewable energy initiatives.

Trade Exchange

The event will be followed by a meeting of the sectoral working groups on June 25 and an evening celebration of the tenth anniversary of the British-Saudi Business Council. The Sports Investment Forum will be held on June 26.

The value of trade exchange between Saudi Arabia and Britain exceeded 17 billion pounds ($21 billion), while the two countries aim to increase the volume of bilateral trade to $37.5 billion by 2030.

In May, Riyadh hosted the Great Futures conference, one of the initiatives of the Saudi-British Strategic Partnership Council, which is chaired by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

The conference sought to strengthen economic relations in several promising sectors, in addition to developing trade and mutual investment.

The two kingdoms explored opportunities through 60 initiatives in 13 sectors that enhance economic, trade and investment partnerships in all fields.

Speaking at the event in May, Saudi Minister of Commerce Dr. Majid Al-Qasabi said that the United Kingdom is the second largest exporter of services in the world, and that his country has promising opportunities and a will to diversify the economy.

He added that joint cooperation between the two countries covers various fields, with a focus on the commercial, financial, digital, cultural, educational and health sectors, as well as sports, tourism and entertainment.