The US has re-launched bilateral trade and investment talks with Tunisia in a bid to support the North African country's transition to democracy and an open economic system.

"We believe that enhancing US trade and investment integration with Tunisia to increase economic growth and jobs is an important part of the support we can give to this process," said Daniel Mullaney, Assistant United States Trade Representative for Europe and the Middle East.

The discussions have been relaunched under the 2002 bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA), and a full bilateral council meeting is planned in the coming months.

A delegation from the US visited Tunisia at the end of last month and, as well as talks with the Government, met with representatives of the Tunisian business community and private sector.

In 2010, the US was Tunisia's fifth-largest trading partner, with total imports valued at $406m. Apparel is one of the main exports from Tunisia to the US, reaching a value of $71.7m in 2010, a rise of 23.8% on the year before.

In the first seven months of this year, apparel exports have climbed 10.8% to $48.3, official figures show.