US, Tunisia agree to $500M loan guarantee

The United States and Tunisia signed a loan guarantee agreement on Tuesday for $500 million as the North African nation transitions to a democracy. 

"The deal makes it easier for Tunisia to borrow money to narrow its budget deficit, bolster its economic growth and grow international confidence in the Tunisian market," the Treasury Department said. 

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President Obama agreed to the funding when he met with Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa on April 4 at the White House. 

“We want nothing more than for Tunisians to determine their own destiny, for the economic reforms to take place to allow Tunisia to be not just self-sufficient but thriving in the world economy," Obama said after that meeting.  

"And we are confident that with the Prime Minister’s guidance that, in fact, Tunisia can meet some of its reform goals and lay the foundation for great success in the future.”

In 2011, Tunisia led the region's pro-democracy Arab Spring, which led to the ouster of a long-time leader, a progressive new Constitution and fresh independent leadership. 

After the Washington meeting, Jomaa said "we are very proud of our new constitution, of our shared values in democracy and rights."

"As we set this road map, we need to think about economic and social aspects, and also about teaching and learning, because we are eager to develop our youth and to develop new technologies."

The United States provided a loan guarantee of $485 million in 2012, which helped the nation access global capital markets for the first time since 2007.