Schiff Introduces Legislation to Bolster Egyptian and Tunisian Move Toward Democracy

Washington, DC – Today, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) introduced legislation to help Egypt and Tunisia as they transition to democracy by promoting the strengthening their private sectors Specifically, the legislation will encourage joint ventures with the U.S. and Egypt and Tunisia, providing technical assistance, strategic advice and support to private entrepreneurs, as well as small- and medium-sized businesses.

“This is a once in a generational moment, potentially one of the most promising that we have seen in decades, in which the U.S. has an historic opportunity to help people in the Arab world achieve a measure of democracy and self-determination,“ Rep. Schiff said. "We have a deep interest in the success of the Arab Spring, and must do all we can to encourage its forward progress."

Through the Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund and the Tunisian-American Enterprise Fund, the U.S. government will help to fill a temporary gap in private financing and investment resulting from political uncertainties. The legislation will help to stabilize the economies in Egypt and Tunisia, and assist U.S. businesses by encouraging new partnerships and collaboration.

“The greatest untapped resource in the Middle East and North Africa is the talent of its people,” President Obama said in a speech on May 19.  “Just as democratic revolutions can be triggered by a lack of individual opportunity, successful democratic transitions depend upon an expansion of growth and broad-based prosperity… We’re working with Congress to create Enterprise Funds to invest in Tunisia and Egypt.  And these will be modeled on funds that supported the transitions in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall.  OPIC will soon launch a $2 billion facility to support private investment across the region.  And we will work with the allies to refocus the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development so that it provides the same support for democratic transitions and economic modernization in the Middle East and North Africa as it has in Europe.”

Senators John Kerry (D-MA), John McCain (R-AZ) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.