Tunisia wins $500 million loan guarantees

TUNIS, Tunisia – Tunisia has reached a deal with the United States for $500 million in loan guarantees to boost the North African country’s struggling economy.

Tunisian Finance Minister Slim Chaker signed the deal Friday with U.S. Ambassador Daniel Rubinstein.

It will allow Tunisia to borrow at interest rates of 2 per cent instead of 6 or 7 per cent, Chaker told reporters.

It’s the third such accord with the U.S. in recent years and comes after meetings between U.S. President Barack Obama and Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi aimed at encouraging economic reforms and investment in Tunisia.

Tunisia is the only country to have emerged from Arab Spring uprisings with a vibrant democracy but is struggling with high youth unemployment and a stagnant economy.