The export of fishery products, together with olive oil, emerges as the star of the trade balance of Tunisia, in so far as they are the two items that provide almost regularly resources to the country to mop up as much as possible its foreign trade deficit.
The trade balance of seafood was more than stable at the end of May 2021, posting a surplus of 102.7 MD against 101.5 MD, during the same period of 2020.
According to the bulletin of the ONAGRI (National Observatory of Agriculture), foreign sales of fishery products have recorded, at the date indicated, an increase of 38.8%, to 11.1 thousand tons from 8 thousand tons registered during the same period of 2020. The value of these exports went up by 17.4% to 224.2 million dinars (MD), until the end of May 2021, against 191 MD during the same period in 2020.
This increase is explained by the rise in exports of crabs, from 796.1 tons in 2020 to nearly 2090.8 tons in 2021. There was also a growth in value from 8.6 MD to 19.6 MD in 2021. Exports of sea bream have increased by 900 tons in quantity and 8.9 MD in value.
As for exports of fresh tuna, they went up by 488 tons in quantity, with an increase in value of 32.8 MD.
This is the same for exports of shrimp that grew by 536.4 tons, coupled with an increase of 21.8 MD in terms of value.
Prices, a downside!
Only downside in this table, export prices have posted a decline of 15.7%, from 23.9d/kg in May 2021 to 20.1d/kg in May 2020. This decline is due to the fall in prices of fish and shellfish.
Regarding imports of fishery products, they have reached about 24.4 thousand tons, worth 121.5 MD, during the first 5 months of 2021, against 19 thousand tons worth 89, 5MD during the same period of 2020, up 28.4% in terms of quantities and 36% in terms of value.
This increase is attributed to the rise by 4,432 tons of imports of frozen tuna for industrialization. A slight increase is recorded in average import prices, from 0.3 d/kg in May 2020 to 5d/kg in May 2021.
Food trade balance struggling to absorb its deficit
From a holistic point of view, the food trade balance, including that of seafood products, recorded a deficit of 806.9 MD during the first six months of the year 2021, against a deficit of 137.1 MD during the same period of the previous year, thus recording a coverage rate of 75.1% in 2021 against 95.2% in 2020.
In terms of value, food exports went down 10.2% while imports have increased by 13.8%.
The deficit recorded is mainly the result of the increased pace of imports of grain (+20.9%) on the one hand and the decline in olive oil exports (-26.9%) on the other.
The drop of olive oil price in June 2021, followed a significant increase recorded the previous month.
The prices of grain products (durum wheat, soft wheat, barley and corn) posted an increase in June 2021 compared to previous months.