Tunisia: World Bank Re-engagement to Provide Stabilizing Influence

by | May 31, 2023 | Economic, Tunisia


The World Bank has reached an agreement to re-engage Tunisia following the recent abrupt pause in cooperation. The pause in engagement was a reaction against comments by President Kais Saied in February 2023 which were characterized by many as racist toward sub-Saharan Africans.

Following President Saied’s comments, the World Bank announced a pause in exploring new financing opportunities with Tunisia. However, the World Bank continued several existing activities in Tunisia, including the issuance of a sweeping report on the need for substantive economic reforms and a collaborative financing effort with the US government that facilitated the purchase of durum wheat, which has been increasingly difficult for Tunisia to source.

The World Bank’s announcement of the resumption of activities with Tunisia indicated that the Bank plans to function as a long-term partner in helping to provide much-needed relief to the country’s financial system. The World Bank plan includes goals for strategic cooperation through at least 2027.

The vision for cooperation includes a focus on providing economic relief to Tunisian citizens that are most severely impacted by the country’s economic crisis and empowering small- and medium-sized enterprises with financing opportunities.


The World Bank’s renewed vision for cooperation with Tunisia includes language similar to that of the United States, emphasizing a focus on families, local communities, and small businesses. This approach to aid and financing implicitly registers concern with the uncertainty inherent to the current political environment, which many have characterized as movement away from democracy and toward authoritarianism.

The World Bank, like other partners, is likely seeking to affirm a long-term commitment to Tunisia’s recovery while avoiding more risky partnerships with Tunisian government institutions which remain controversial in their use by the current administration.

The World Bank’s commitment to Tunisia will likely help reassure investors and other sources of financing and provide a stabilizing influence as the country continues to recover from the highly critical media attention on the treatment of sub-Saharan migrants through the spring of 2023.


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