Tunisia’s foreign currency reserves rise after Saudi loan

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Tunisia’s foreign reserves have risen since it agreed a $500 million loan from Saudi Arabia last week and are now enough to pay for 91 days of imports, official data showed on Wednesday, up from a previous level of 80 days.

The North African country’s economy has been in crisis since the toppling of autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, with unemployment and inflation shooting up. It has struggled with tough economic reforms to reduce public spending.

Central bank figures showed that Tunisia’s foreign exchange reserves now stand at 15.096 billion dinar ($4.99 billion).

The government said last week that Finance Minister Ridha Chalgoum had signed in Riyadh a $500 million loan with a low interest rate. He gave no further details.

Last month, Prime Minister Youssef Chaded said after a visit to Riyadh that Saudi Arabia had pledged financial aid worth about $830 million, of which $500 million would be used to finance the budget.

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