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Tuesday 15 June 2021
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Tunisia: economic ”convulsions” analyzed by OCE

It is the first comprehensive and accurate inventory of the economy since the Revolution of January 14. It was compiled by the Observatory of Economic Conditions (OCE) at the Ministry of Planning and International Cooperation which points, in this context, to a “sudden convulsion” of the national economic system.

The first conclusion that emerges from the analysis of the OCE is that “effects and tensions arising from the economic shock of early 2011 are much more diffuse and ambiguous on the national economy than the recent global crisis of the years 2007 – 2009.”

Here follows, by sectors, the effects of this “political upheaval.”

The tourism sector, the most affected

Activities related to tourism have been the first to bear the brunt, with a collapse in hotel occupancy by nearly 60% and a cascade of negative spillover effects on other related sectors, the report of the OCE noted.

Tourism revenues were down nearly 40 percent to 190.1 MTD, February 28 for a drop of 60.5 per cent in overnight stays. Thus, the net revenues in foreign currencies have continued their ebb, begun in early 2010, to – 5.6% for the entire first two months.

Foreign trade: “a collapse” of -20 pc in January 2011

Regarding the external trade volume, analysis of the observatory of the economic conditions show a “collapse” of exports during the month of January (-20 per cent) compared with December, according to data on monthly exports in volume .

This development is attributable to movements made by offshore units, which more than offset the slowdown in activity during the previous month to raise again the rate of growth in their exports to over 20 per cent.

This dynamic has prevailed mainly for mechanical and electrical industries, whose foreign sales for the entire first two months of 2011 finally rose 9 per cent compared with the same period last year.

The evolution of activity in the very short term of totally exporting units would be relatively favorable, with buoyant foreign demand as evidenced by the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) in the euro area, conducted with purchasing managers and giving an idea about the health of the manufacturing activity.

This observation is confirmed by strong imports under the offshore regime, particularly for mechanical and electrical industries.

Imports of textiles, clothing and leather intended for re-exportation have experienced, meanwhile, increased volatility since last summer but exports maintain the stable level they had reached again in February after a drop in the previous month.

The relative change in volumes traded together with the constancy in terms of net exchange was beneficial to the trade balance which continues its recovery from its low point in March 2010.

In two months, the trade balance deficit amounted to 871.7 MD for a coverage rate of 80.9% against 1070.3 MTD and 76% at end February 2010.

22% drop in foreign investment flows

Flows of foreign direct investment (FDI), also contracted during the month of January, reaching 116.4 MTD against 142.2 MTD, down 22 pc.

Meanwhile, investment intentions identified by the APII (Agency for Promotion of Industry and Innovation) posted an increase of 9.7%, in the first two months, thanks to the doubling of planned investment in the food industry but with significant reductions for mechanical and electrical industries (-46 pc), the textile and leather (-50.3 pc) and the chemical industry (-61 pc).

Similarly, start-ups were down 8.8% in January-February compared to the first two months of 2010.

Average inflation of 4.4 pc

The year 2010 ended with an average inflation of 4.4 pc. However, the year-on-year rate was stable at 4 per cent after a peak of 5.2 pc in February.

The beginning of the year was marked by a decline in general price index in January (-0.1 pc) and February (-0.5 pc), which reduced the inflationary momentum to 1.5 pc.

Prospects for the coming months

For the next few months, it is likely that inflation (2.9 per cent in February) will post a gradual increase to stabilize from summer at around 3.3%.

Inflation, exclusive of food and energy, and the rate of growth of money supply (12.1 pc) in December and January, which is at its average level for a year and a half, contribute to easing inflationary pressures in the coming quarters.

However, other factors argue for a return of pressure on consumer prices in 2012 which could even occur earlier in case of tariff adjustments on products with controlled prices.

These pressures have recently emerged in terms of producer prices that extend in response to upward trend in import prices.

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