A relative improvement of agricultural production, a drop in exports for Mechanical and
Electrical Industries, clothing and shoes and a recovery of tourist trade are the main indicators of the economic situation for the period ranging between January 1 and May 15, according to the Central Bank of Tunisia (BCT).
In a sector-based analysis , the bank reveals that “the agricultural production indexes relating to livestock and fishing posted a relative improvement in the first quarter of 2012 compared with the same period in 2010 and 2011”.
As regards the industrial sector, “fallouts from the economic recession in the euro zone on the national economy started to be felt as testifies the drop in the mechanical and electrical industries in April 2012 (-4.1% against 25.2% during the same period of the previous year), and in clothing, leather and footwear industries (-22.4 vs. 19.2%)”.
The imports of capital goods and raw materials and semi-finished products respectively dropped by -2.7% and -2.,8%.
Tourist trade has carried on its recovery last April, recording a rise in the number of tourists’ arrivals in the first four months of the current year (+ 51.8% in terms of annual shift against -41.8% in 2011) and in foreign currency earnings (696,3 million dinars , up by 34.1% vs. 519,2 MTD and -30.5% in 2011).
The general balance of external payments recorded a 725-MTD deficit during the first four months of 2012, a significant fall compared with the same period last year (2316 MTD), which followed a firming-up in the surplus balance of financial operations and in capital, whereas the current deficit continued to widen considerably.
The current payments deficit reached 2071 MTD in 2012, i.e. 3% of GDP compared to 1619 MTD (2.5% of GDP) during the same period in 2011. This is due to the worsening in trade deficit (+ 38.8%), standing at 3314 MTD after a rise of 13.4% in imports and a fall of 6% in exports, respectively 5.9% and 11.1% the previous year.
The impact of trade deficit was reduced by a better surplus balance of services by 175 MTD during the first four months of this year thanks to the increase in tourism revenues on the one hand, and the shrinking in the deficit of factor income and current transfers (223 MTD), due to the increase of labor income by 22.5%, on the other hand.
The first four months of 2012 have posted a surplus balance of financial operations and of capital which amounted to 1346 MTD, against a deficit of 697 MTD in the same period of 2011, in line with the increase in direct foreign investments flows (19,3%) and the firming-up of the surplus balance of loan-borrowing and other commitments reaching 840 MTD.
As a result, net assets in foreign currencies are now set at 9857 MTD, until May 15, or 101 days of imports, against 113 days at the end of 2011.
According to the central bank, inflationary pressure went up, in April 2012, the consumer price index having recorded a rise of 0.8%, compared with March of the same year.
In terms of annual shift, the increase came to 5.7%, while the inflation rate reached an average of 5.5%, considered high compared with that of 3.5% recorded in 2011.
In the economic budget of 2012, the government is expecting an inflation rate of 4.8%.
According to the central Bank, the levels of most of core inflation indexes recorded a rise.
Faced with the ongoing shrinking of bank liquidity over April 2012, the BCT interventions on the money market rose to an average of 3462 MTD in April against 3351 MTD in March.
Pressure on bank liquidity:
Pressure exerted on bank liquidity went on starting from the beginning of the current month. Hence, the banks’ needs for refinancing at the Central Bank have increased, which generated a higher average interest rate of the money market, posting 3.72% during this period against 3.64% last April.
The global amount of bank deposits increased by 3.5% in the first four months of 2012.
Financing to the economy grew at a slower pace than the one recorded during the same period last year (4%).
Debit accounts, outstanding payments and consolidations credits represented the largest share of the overall increase of loans, which reveals more difficulties as regards debt collection, knowing that consumer loans increased in turn sharply.
By sector, manufacturing industries accounted for 45.2% of this rise, whereas tourism and real estate sectors accounted respectively for 18.8% and 14.3%, of the overall increase.
Transactions on the stock exchange:
Transactions on the stock exchange quotation were dynamic over April and up to May 4 to stand at 310 MTD, bringing thus their accumulated volume since the beginning of this year to 743 MTD or a daily average volume of 8.5 MTD. State issues went on to 182 MTD in April 2012.
Trends in the capital market were marked, last April, by a rise in the reference index TUNINDEX, at a relatively fast pace (+5.6% compared with March ), thanks to the significant rise in some non-financial shares while the index recorded a slight fall of 0.4% in the first week of the current month.
Thus, its yield stood at 7.3 % since the beginning of this year, while the banking sector yield was below that of TUNINDEX index, no more than 1.9 % since the beginning of 2012.