As far as foreign trade is concerned, it is not yet the end of the tunnel. The euro area as well as the United States is experiencing successive quarters of declining growth and recession, which inevitably resulted in a contraction in global demand.
Tunisia’s economic situation is relaying that trend through a decline in trade with the outside world and in industrial production geared for export, due to the contraction of global demand, particularly in key partner countries, as stated by BCT Executive Board during its last meeting.
As for figures as provided by the Center for Export Promotion, they are very meaningful. During the first four months of this year, exports fell by 19.6% (6307.1 MD against 7847.1 MD), while imports were not to be outdone and fell by 16.5% (7817.9 against 9364.2 MD MD ). The result was a clear deterioration in the coverage rate by 3.1 points (80.7% against 83.8%) while the deficit decreased by 0.4% (1510.8 MD against 1517.1 MD ).
Agricultural exports have declined up to 23.5%, as well as energy whose sales fell by 22.2% and mining products and derivatives that have fallen from 44.8% at end April 2009.
The same trend is recorded as far as imports are concerned, including agricultural products and food (14.6%) and energy (53.3%).
In terms of exports to the UMA, on April 30 2009, they grew by 9.9% and by 33.9%. to the Far East countries.
Similarly, there is a trade surplus in favor of Tunisia mainly with France (+222.4 MD), Libya (+213.5 MD), Iran (+141.9 MD) and the United Kingdom (+98.2 MD).
Among major trading partners of Tunisia, ie those in the euro area and, after already three quarters of consecutive decline, the economy has slumped by 2.5% in first quarter 2009. In doing so, Europe’s economy appears more affected by the crisis than the United States (- 1.5%) but stronger than Japan (-4%). For analysts, this poor performance is already for the euro area economy a 4% negative growth for 2009. «And even if the GDP of 2008 last quarter was less bad than expected standing at -1.8% against -1.6% previously estimated.
In detail, the decline in European activity in early 2009 reflects a widespread deterioration: “both a sharp decline in investment (-4.2%), a sharp drop in exports (-8.1% ) and a deterioration in consumer spending (-0.5%). “The recovery is not in sight, «say economic analysts. Despite an improvement in the economic environment, the indexes remain at very low levels.
In the U.S., the gross domestic product contracted in the first quarter, but less than expected. According to final figures released by the Department of Commerce, it decreased by 5.7% in annualized rate from the previous quarter, and not by 6.1% as announced in April.
According to analysts, if the worst of the crisis is past, the U.S. should line up a fourth quarter decline in GDP.