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Thursday 2 February 2023
HomeFeatured NewsFood trade balance: a deficit more and more abysmal and unbridled

Food trade balance: a deficit more and more abysmal and unbridled

Tunisia’s food trade balance recorded a deficit of 2920.2 million dinars, at the end of December 2022, against a deficit of 1942.1 million dinars at the end of 2021, in parallel with a rate of coverage of imports by exports reaching 67.4% against 70.2% in 2021, according to data recently published by the National Observatory of Agriculture.

Indeed, food exports have increased by 32.0% and imports rose by 37.5%. The worsening of the deficit in the food trade balance is, moreover, attributed to the high rate of imports, especially those of sugar, vegetable oils, durum wheat and soybeans, and this, mainly due to the impact of the war between Russia and Ukraine on world commodity prices.

Trade structure

The deficit of the overall trade balance of the country in 2022 recorded an increase of 55.6% with (-TND 25,216.0) in 2022 against (TND -16,210.7 MD) in 2021.the total of imports increased from TND 62,864.9 MD in 2021 to TND 82,789.2 MD in 2022, that is to say a rise of 31.7%.

The two groups of products that of the energy and that of the raw materials and semi-finished products accounted together for 53,2% of the country’s total imports.

Food imports accounted for 10.8% of total imports. Exports increased by 23.4% from TND 46,654.2 to TND 57,573.2 MD.

Food exports accounted for 10.5% of total exports. The share of the food trade balance deficit in the overall trade balance deficit fell by 0.4 percentage points compared to the same period last year from 12.0% to 11.6%.

As for grain imports, they reached 4,552.3 million dinars, posting a rise of 33.4% compared to December 2021, despite the decrease in quantities supplied by 11.8% to 3435.5 thousand tons. The share of grain imports accounted for 50.8% of total food imports recorded until December 2022, against 52.4% in the same period last year. These purchases have mainly involved wheat of all kinds, which amounted to 2757.2 million dinars, or 60.6% of cereal imports.

Oil and sugar increase by 49%, without impact on the market

The value of imports of vegetable oil increased by 122.3% to 1397.9 million dinars, while the average prices of the offer went up 49.7%, in parallel with the rise in quantities supplied by 49% to reach a total of 303,500 tons.

Sugar imports also went up in quantities supplied (49%) and prices (52.4%) compared to the previous year.

Despite high quantities of vegetable oils and sugar, these products remain absent from the stores for a long time, which raises several questions about their fate, especially since it is difficult to monopolize and store tens of thousands of tons by smugglers and speculators for reasons related to purely logistical factors. In fact, it is not possible to provide stores that can accommodate tens of thousands of tons of foodstuffs, in addition to the fact that the import of these products and their elimination in the distribution and marketing is one of the exclusive monopolies of the state represented by its offices and public institutions specialized in this area.

President Kais Saied had met last Friday with a number of citizens in the city center, stressing, according to a statement from the Presidency the need to “clean up the state and its institutions from those who seek to destabilize and work by all means to sow discord.”

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