The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is expanding its activities under its Trade Facilitation Programme in Tunisia with a US$10mn trade finance line to Union Internationale de Banques (UIB), a subsidiary of Société Générale.

With the aim of boosting international and intra-regional trade in Tunisia, the credit line will allow UIB to issue guarantees in favour of confirming banks and provide cash financing for pre-export and post-import financing as well as for local distribution.

The facility also involves so-called technical co-operation projects, which focus on the sharing of know-how and best practices in trade finance.

UIB’s general director Kamel Neji says the deal is the second that UIB has signed with the EBRD and is in line with the Tunisian bank’s growth strategy for the corporate and SME market for 2017-20.

“It will allow us to raise to a new level our expertise in trade finance and our support for companies expanding their international trade,” he says.

The EBRD began its operations in Tunisia in 2012 and has since invested €364mn through 25 projects in the country, with a special priority towards regional development projects outside Tunis. To this end, the EBRD opened an office in Sfax in October last year, its second office in Tunisia.

The EBRD’s Trade Facilitation Programme was launched in 1999 to promote foreign trade to and from countries the EBRD is investing in. It provides guarantees to international confirming banks and short-term loans to selected banks and factoring companies for on-lending to local exporters, importers and distributors. The programme currently includes 96 partner banks in 26 countries, with total limits exceeding €1.5bn.