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Washington, D.C. - Today, the United States and Tunisia launched an initiative to support the growth of small- and medium-sized businesses, boost trade, and promote broad-based economic growth. The initiative, funded and led by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), will provide training on the U.S. small business development center model in Tunisia and provide technical assistance to the owners and employees of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to establish external trade opportunities in the region and internationally. Developed under the U.S.-Tunisia Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), which is led by the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the initiative will strengthen Tunisia’s economic cooperation with the United States and improve its prospects for sustainable growth. Using online platforms and partnerships, it will create greater opportunities for trade between American and Tunisian small businesses.
Tunisian Ambassador to the United States Mokhtar Chaouachi hosted the launch of the initiative at the Tunisian Embassy, which was attended by Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Miriam Sapiro and Acting Assistant Administrator for USAID’s Middle East Bureau Alina Romanowski.
Ambassador Sapiro stated that “Fostering trade and building institutional ties between small businesses in the United States and Tunisia as well as the broader region will promote economic growth and jobs for both countries, and it is an important component of our work in both the TIFA and the Obama Administration’s Middle East North Africa Trade and Investment Partnership.”
Acting Assistant Administrator Romanowski said that, “Tunisia is charting a path toward greater economic growth, transparency and openness. The growth of small- and medium-sized businesses is a key component of Tunisia’s economic development that can benefit groups that have been historically marginalized, such as women and youth, who have been key proponents of democratic reform throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Measurable economic progress can help bolster democratic reforms both in Tunisia and elsewhere in the region.”
The Tunisia SME Project will be implemented by the International Executive Service Corps (IESC) and the University of Texas San Antonio Small Business Development Center.
This SME initiative was developed under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), signed by the United States and Tunisia in 2002. The TIFA is designed to serve as a forum to discuss issues of mutual interest with the objective of improving cooperation and enhancing opportunities for trade and investment.