October 2, 2019 / 12:33 PM / 21 days ago

Exclusive: Tunisia plans to issue up to 800 million euros of bonds in 2020

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisia needs around 8.5 billion Tunisian dinars ($2.96 billion) in external financing in 2020 and plans to issue bonds up to 800 million euros ($874.24 million) of debt, a senior official told Reuters on Wednesday.

“Initially, there is a plan to ask parliament for approval to issue bonds worth up to 800 million euros next year,” the official said. It was too early to determine the timing and exact value of the bonds, the official added.

I‮n July‬ ‮ ‬Tunisia has sold a seven-year, euro-denominated bond worth 700 million euros at an interest rate of 6.37%.

It needs total financing next year worth 11 billion dinars against 10 billion dinars in 2019, the source told Reuters, asking not to be named.

The external borrowing requirement will rise from 7 billion to about 8.5 billion, he said.

Tunisia’s economy has been in trouble since the toppling of autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011, with unemployment and inflation shooting up.

But the government official said signs of economic recovery would be clear in 2020, expecting gross domestic product growth to exceed 3%, compared with the 2.5% expected this year. He added that GDP growth could reach 3.4%, driven by higher gas output and growth in agricultural production.

The Nawara natural gas field, a project jointly owned by Austria’s OMV and the Tunisian National Oil Co., ETAP, started production two months ago. It will almost double national gas output to 65,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, the government said.

Tunisia also expects record production of dates and olive oil, two of its main exports.

The government aims to reduce its budget deficit from the 3.9% of GDP expected this year to 3% in 2020.

Reporting By Tarek Amara, editing by Larry King

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