As part of his yearly press conference, Trade and handicrafts minister Ridha Touiti went back on oil prices rise pointing out that the imports rose by 7.23% in view of the rise in the prices of world hydrocarbons and foodstuffs, the increase by 27.3% in the importation of raw materials and semi-finished products and the increase by 25.6% of equipment products.
Meanwhile, he added Tunisian exports recorded last year a 21.8% rise, in spite of the decline recorded beginning of last November.
He said that action will be focused in 2009 on reinforcing exporting enterprises in order to reduce the effects of the international financial crisis and the decline in growth and international demand. Touiti outpointed that the State plans to increase exports by 8.7% and imports by 8.9%, by means of diversifying markets and making the most of the opportunities offered by the neighbouring and African markets.
According to the minister, the Maghreb market only polarise 8% of Tunisian exports, a rate which should be stepped up through bilateral and multilateral trade agreements binding the region’s countries, reminding notably of the preferential agreement concluded recently with Algeria. Exports to the African markets recorded a 36.6% rise last year, and are expected to be further improved thanks to an action plan set by the ministry.
This action plan includes the organisation of visits between economic delegations and looking at the conclusion of preferential agreements with the West-African Economic and Monetary Union. Besides, Tunisia signed in 2008 10 free-trade conventions with 50 countries, i.e. a whole 800-million-consumer market.
According to the Minister , the fact that inflation has remained stable in 2008, and has even decreased by 5.8% in January to 5.0% in December of that year, is due to “efforts made to ensure abundant supply, to the adoption of certain exemptions to cushion price increases abroad, to the participation of the private sector and to controls. “