Foreign trade dynamics weakened in July 2021. Indeed, export earnings slowed to 9.1% year-on-year (y/y) after 28.8% in June 2021. Imports of goods also increased by 12.3% (year-on-year) in July 2021, from 53.9% the previous month. The trade deficit, therefore, stood at 1,189 MD in July 2021, from 1,595 MDT one month earlier.
On the whole of the first seven months 2021, the balance of the commercial operations widened to -8,725 MDT against -7,567 MDT one year before. Excluding energy, this balance, also widened, standing at -6,376 MDT, against -4,908 MDT at the end of July 2020.
Export revenues have accumulated 26.4 billion dinars, at the end of the first seven months of 2021, against 21.5 billion and 26.7 billion, recorded during the same periods of 2020 and 2019, respectively.
What did Tunisia import in July?
Regarding imports, the bill amounted to 35.2 billion dinars at the end of the first seven months of 2021, against 29.1 billion and 37.9 billion during the same periods of 2020 and 2019, respectively.
In detail, imports of raw materials and semi-finished products amounted to 12.4 billion dinars, at the end of July 2021, after 9.3 billion and 12 billion in 2020 and 2019, respectively. Expenditure on imported capital goods increased moderately to around 6.5 billion dinars, from 5.5 billion and 7.8 billion at the end of July of 2020 and 2019, respectively. In addition, imports of energy products have stabilized at around 4 billion dinars at the end of July 2021.
For their part, imports of consumer goods went up to 8.5 billion dinars at the end of July 2021, from 7 billion a year earlier and against 8.8 billion at the end of the first seven months 2019. The purchase bill for food products rose to 3.8 billion dinars, from 3.3 billion a year earlier and against 3.5 billion at the end of July 2019.
1.28 billion in labor income at end July 2021
As for labor income (largely cash transfers from Tunisian expats), expressed in euros, it continued to consolidate to reach €1,280 million, at the end of July 2021, against €1,009 million a year earlier. The good performance of labor income contributed significantly to the narrowing of the current account deficit during the first seven months of 2021. Thus, the current account deficit narrowed slightly to 4,338 MTD (or 3.6% of GDP), compared with 4,663 MTD (or 4.2% of GDP) at the end of July 2020.
Foreign exchange reserves stood at 7,348 MUSD (or 128 days of imports), at the end of July 2021, down -13.5% compared to their level at the end of 2020 (8,489 MUSD or 162 days of imports).
It should be noted that at the end of July 2021 and the beginning of August, two loans contracted on the international financial market (for more than 1 billion U.S. dollars) had to be repaid at maturity, leading to a reduction in foreign exchange reserves to 7,046 MUSD as of August 20, 2021, or the equivalent of 124 days of imports.
Compared to the averages of June 2021, the exchange rate of the Dinar appreciated in July 2021 by 0.5% against the Euro, and depreciated by 0.6% against the US Dollar.
Over a year, the exchange rate of the Dinar against the Euro depreciated by 2.7%, after 3.2% in June.
Against the U.S. dollar, the appreciation of the exchange rate of the Dinar continued, although at a slower pace, by 0.2% (year on year), in July 2021, after 2.4% the previous month.