Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have signed various agreements with the Tunisian government to help revive the north African nation’s struggling economy.
The agreements signed on Monday with the three countries which constitute a sub-regional bloc known as Benelux covered various areas of interest to both sides.
They included a letter of intent from the Kingdom of Belgium to convert Tunisia’s debts into investment projects and a partnership and co-operation agreement between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Tunisia.
The agreement also included a Memorandum of Understanding between the Tunisian Association of Banks and Financial institutions and the House of Training as well as a co-operation agreement between the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Tunisia and the Chamber of Commerce of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
Luxembourg through its Chamber of Commerce is expected to mobilise the necessary funds to support reforms in Tunisia’s finance sector. The country is also expected to train Tunisians in the field of energy efficiency.
Netherlands on the other hand stated its continued support for Tunisia’s democratic transition through financing several projects with focus on combating corruption and extremism, reducing unemployment and improving the investment climate among others.
The two-day visit by the Benelux prime ministers comes on the heels of a successful hosting of an investor conference last week dubbed Tunisia 2020 which saw countries and donor partners pledge billions of dollars in aid and loans.
At a joint press conference, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg Xavier Bettel said their mission to Tunisia was not “for tourism. We came here to see how we can help each other, because we know that if Tunisia is doing well, it is good for us all.”
Tunisia is transitioning from the 2011 popular uprising which has left in its wake a high level of unemployment and threats from terrorist organizations operating both within the country and from neighbouring ones.
Xavier Bettel however said “Tunisians do not have to choose between security and democracy” but rather live “in a developing country”.
The Benelux countries have also expressed their commitment to finance programmes and projects in Tunisia aimed at boosting employment, economic development, social progress, prevention of extremism and support for reform of the security and finance sectors.
Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed and the three prime ministers have meanwhile expressed their common will to strengthen co-operation and combine efforts to fight terrorism, violent extremism and organised crime.