Their real reasons are yet to be established. According to the latest official data, Tunisian manufacturers were tense in the third quarter of 2023.
In its business survey for the third quarter of 2023, the National Institute of Statistics (INS) found that Tunisian industrialists’ assessment of the situation and prospects for their companies’ activities, known as the “balance of opinion”, had deteriorated significantly.
This is a serious warning, and we hope to know the real reasons for it!
An analysis report by the French National Statistics Institute (INSEE) states: “Business surveys provide irreplaceable information for short-term analysis and forecasting. The information provided by these surveys on the recent past is generally of very high quality. What’s more – and this is the main advantage of this source of information – it is obtained very quickly, earlier than quantitative statistics, and is subject to very few revisions. Economists, forecasters, policy makers and journalists are the main users of the results”.
However, as mentioned above, the same INSEE recommends that business surveys should be accompanied by what it calls a “principal components analysis” (PCA), which consists of seeking, for each of the questions put to the respondents (manufacturers, as in this case, or households), a summary of the various percentages showing the greatest possible variability between successive surveys, which is, moreover, what the Tunisian National Institute of Statistics does to some extent.
Indeed, in the third quarter of 2023, the balance of opinion among Tunisian business leaders on the general situation in the country fell significantly to 5%, compared with 22% in the previous quarter.
Cause for concern
As a reminder, the balance of opinion is defined as the difference between the proportion of respondents expressing a positive opinion and the proportion expressing a negative opinion.
The questions asked in business surveys usually require three responses: “up”, “stable” or “down”.
From these responses is calculated, for each question, the percentage of respondents (households or businesses) who report an increase (positive responses), a status quo (stable responses) or a decrease (negative responses), taking into account, in the case of businesses, the relative importance of both the business and the sub-sector concerned.
However, it is worrying that the business survey carried out by the National Institute of Statistics among Tunisian industrialists in the third quarter of 2002 revealed a decline in their balance of opinion on the various indicators.
In its survey for that period, the INS recorded a decline in the balance of opinion of Tunisian industrialists regarding the general situation in the country, as well as a decline in their balance of opinion regarding the level of industrial production compared to the second quarter of 2023, with a foreseeable decline in the fourth quarter (a compound decline).
The NSI also noted a decline in the balance of opinion of industrial managers in Tunisia regarding the demand for industrial products, both domestically and abroad, in parallel with an expectation of a fall in the use of production capacity by industrial companies to below its long-term average, following a recovery of this magnitude recorded at the beginning of 20323.
Tunisian manufacturers also expect a negative impact from changes in commodity prices.
This tension among Tunisian industrialists confirms the assessments of certain Tunisian analysts, recently reported by African Manager (November 3, 2023), according to which the improvement in public finance indicators recorded by official data, although positive in itself, does not reflect a performance in terms of real economic growth.