Tunisia seeking to delay loan repayments: Minister

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Tunisia is negotiating with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France and Italy to delay loan payments expected this year because of the coronavirus crisis, Slim Azzabi, the investment minister, said on Monday.

Tunisia expects its economy to shrink by 6.5 percent this year and to register a budget deficit equivalent to 7 percent of gross domestic product because of the coronavirus crisis.

The North African country is trying to put state finances on a sounder footing after years of deficit spending and mounting public debt - issues complicated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Last month, Azzabi said the number of unemployed people in the country will increase by 275,000, according to a government study in partnership with the United Nations, AFP reported.

This would raise the unemployment rate to 21.1 percent in 2020, up from about 15 percent at the start of the year.

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