Millennium Challenge Corporation Op-ed

July 1, 2021

Yesterday, the Board of the United States Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) unanimously approved a nearly $500 million USD Compact for Tunisia.  This represents in effect a doubling annual U.S. economic assistance to Tunisia, and a major investment in Tunisia’s future.

The MCC is a collaboration.  The United States and Tunisia have worked together to design a partnership that aims to build a strong, sustainable Tunisian economy.  It does this by removing barriers to trade and investment, improving infrastructure, and accelerating economic growth and opportunity.  The MCC’s work will focus on two major projects:  the Transportation and Trade Project and the Water Demand Management and Productivity Project.

The Transportation and Trade Project aims to make trade with Tunisia easier and less expensive by investing in the expansion and improved management of the Port of Rades. The Water Demand and Management Project will help Tunisians better conserve and manage limited water resources, improve irrigation systems, help farmers incorporate water efficient technology, and support Tunisian Government efforts to decentralize groundwater management and implement its newly proposed Water Code.

All compact projects will be implemented in partnership between the United States and the Government of Tunisia and compact grant funding does not create debt for the Tunisian people and does not require repayment. It also is possible that the program could expand in the future; every country eligible for a second grant has requested one.

Initial compact funding will commence after the agreement is signed by both the United States and Tunisian Governments in the coming weeks.  The full grant amount available once Tunisia ratifies the compact, meets certain reform commitments, and is prepared for work to begin. We believe the MCC program will be a strong signal of support to international investors, business leaders, and other partners that Tunisia is ready to move forward build a strong, inclusive economic future that will help unlock the creativity and productivity of the Tunisian people.

Since its establishment in 2004, MCC has partnered with 29 number countries to invest more than $13 billion across 38 compacts. MCC is unique because the agency only provides large-scale grants to countries committed to good governance, economic freedom, and continued investments in their citizens. Tunisia has time and again shown its commitment to these important principles. As part of the MCC process, the U.S. Government also held consultations with Tunisia’s private sector, civil society, and other stakeholders to understand the needs and jointly develop a strategy for fostering inclusive economic growth.

Since 2011, the United States has demonstrated its commitment to helping Tunisia’s democracy by providing nearly $2 billion in democratic, economic, and security assistance.  The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to building on our strong partnership with Tunisia and finalizing the MCC-Tunisia Compact is a key component of this approach. Simply put, we believe in the Tunisian people, and their ability to overcome the challenges that any transition to democracy presents.

We are building on a strong foundation of shared values and a common vision for the future. I’m looking forward to the upcoming signing of the MCC-Tunisia Compact, which will mark another significant milestone in the U.S.-Tunisia bilateral relationship.