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Tunisia: Trade Deficit Further Widens to 13,635.9 Mtd in 2014 - INSFriday, January 16, 2015 > 11:18:55
Tunisia's trade deficit further widened in the year 2014, reaching "a worrying level" to 13,635.9 million Tunisian dinars (MTD), according to recent statistics published by the National Institute of Statistics (INS).
This deficit, 26.7% of which come from the energy balance deficit (3,639.8 MTD) was translated into a 2.5% drop in the coverage of imports by exports to 67.6%.
Tunisia's trade showed deficit in particular with China (down 2,913.9 MTD), Russia (down 1,742.4 MTD), Italy(down 721,4 MD) and Spain (down 696.8 MTD).
In its statistics, INS points to an imbalance noted in terms of trade with a slight increase of 2.5% in exports (28,406.4 MTD) in 2014 against a rise of 6.4% in imports (42,042.6 MTD).
Governor of the Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT) Chedly Ayari had expressed last Monday his "concern" about the ongoing trade balance deficit which went up from 3.3% of the GDP in 2013 to 8.9% in 2014 and should reach 7.5% of the GDP in 2015.
This situation may lead to a dangerous slippage, Ayari said at a joint press conference with Minister of Economy and Finance Hakim Ben Hammouda, adding that bringing deficit under control must be a shared concern for all stakeholders.
Decline in agricultural exports
The decline in exports is explained by the fall in the exports of many sectors, such as agriculture and food industries (down 16.2%), resulting from a slowing down of olive oil sales (490.2 MTD against 820.2 MTD in 2013).
The drop in exports is also explained by the fall in energy exports (down 11.1%), after the decrease of crude oil exports to 2,433.7 MTD and the sector of phosphate and by products (down 2.4%) due to the decline in the export of diammonium phosphate (DAP) to 424.4 MTD.
However, the INS reported a positive development of exports in the sectors of mechanical and electrical industries (up 11.7%), various manufacturing industries (8.5%) and textile, clothing and leather (3.8%).
Imports increased by 6.4% due to the rise in energy sector's imports (up 8.9%). This increase could have been limited to 5.9% exclusive of the energy sector.
It is also due rise in imports of capital goods (up 10%), following the reinforcement of Tunisair fleet with an aircraft worth 161.9 MTD. Add to this, the increase of imports in raw materials and semi-finished products (6.6%) and phosphate products (5.4%) and non-food consumer products (4.6%) against a drop in the imports of agricultural and basic food products (-3.3%).
It should be noted that the rise recorded in the import of non-food consumer products (4.6%) is due to the growth of import of toys and sports' equipment (58.1%) and tobacco ( 16.7%), fixed oil and perfumes (10.2%), passenger cars (1.4%) which are not basic products.
Balance of trade in surplus with France
In terms of geographical distribution of trade, Tunisian exports to the European Union (74.3% of the overall exports) posted a positive development (up 6.9%), due to an improvement of sales to such countries as Great Britain (up 15.3%), Germany (up 16.5%), on the other hand, and a decline of Tunisian exports to other countries from this area, namely Spain (down 22.9%) and Netherlands (down 21.3%) on the other hand.
Regarding trade with the Arab world, a drop of exports was recorded to Libya (down 19.8%) and Morocco (down 2.4%), while exports to Algeria increased 32.9%.
As to imports, those coming from the European Union (52.8% of the country's overall imports), reached a value of 22,191.8 MTD, up 1.1% compared to the previous year.
France and Italy are still Tunisia's main suppliers with respective market shares of 16.3% and 14.6%. However, the country's imports from Italy rose 7.6% while those coming from France fell 5%. Tunisia has, therefore, recorded a positive balance in trade with France (1,197.5 MTD), Great Britain (646.6 MTD) and Libya (1,036.7 MTD).