The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has launched a new programme, which will provide up to €140mn, to help SMEs in Morocco and Tunisia to grow their exports to the European Union.

The Trade and Competitiveness Programme (TCP) aims to strengthen the private sector in the two countries by linking local SMEs to experienced larger companies for development of more sustainable and export-oriented value chains.

The programme will aim to boost sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, services and information and communication technologies.

The EU will contribute €25.6mn in funding for the project, which hopes to help several hundred businesses to prepare to upgrade standards in order to increase trade with the bloc. The funding will contribute towards supporting policy dialogue on regulatory reform and to create an environment that is more favourable to business and investments.

In addition to the TCP, the EBRD will provide €100mn in credit lines to financial partner institutions in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia, under the Financial Inclusion Programme (FIP). The FIP aims to foster access to finance as this remains one of the main obstacles for business growth and development across the region, where SMEs and micro businesses account for around 90% of private enterprises.

“We are delighted to announce these two programmes, which will support sustainable economic growth in Tunisia and more widely in the southern and eastern Mediterranean,” says EBRD’s vice-president of banking, Alain Pilloux.

“[The programmes] tackle several major challenges in the region. They help businesses to become more competitive and trade with foreign markets, while at the same time spurring inclusive growth that benefits the whole population.”