Italy's Foreign Minister Lamberto Dini on Thursday, April 5, signed an accord granting 63 billion lire (about $30 million) to help small and medium-sized businesses in Tunisia.
The agreement was signed with Tunisian Foreign Minister Habib Ben Yahia at a ceremony during a one day working visit by Dini to the north African country.
The funding is the second tranche of an Italian credit line for Tunisia worth a total of $60 million, within the framework of an financial accord reached in 1998, a Tunisian foreign ministry official said.
Eighty percent of the Italian funding is a gift, while the remaining 20 percent consists of loans with preferential interest rates of between three and five percent.
Italy is Tunisia's second largest trading partner after France. More than 450 Italian firms are represented in Tunisia, employing about 30,000 people. — (AFP, Tunis)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )