Tunisian exports were up 6.7% in 2011, reaching 25,091.9 million dinars (MTD), while imports increased by 5.9%, reaching 33,701.9 MTD.
The coverage rate was up 74.5% in 2011, compared to 73.9% in 2010, whereas the trade deficit stood at 3.8%, reaching 8,610 MTD.
Foreign Trade Observatory Director Lotfi Khedhir explained the rise in the trade deficit by the deficits recorded in raw materials (702.3 MTD), i.e., 48.1%, following the drop in exports of phosphate and by-products by 48.1 %, and food products (151.1 MTD), the 42.8% rise in prices to import and the energy deficit (666.5 MTD) recorded as a result to the 20.2% fall of exported quantities.
At a news conference devoted to the presentation of the 2011 foreign trade balance sheet, on Thursday in Tunis, the official said the growth of trade exchanges slowed down during the second semester of 2011, declining from 13.8% during the first semester to 6.7% by the end of 2011. This slow-down hit all global economies.
Despite this decline, the achievements recorded during the second half of last year are considered as “stable,” compared with the same period the year before, he specified. Mr. Khedhir voiced optimism about trade exchanges’ development prospects in 2012, on account notably of the improvement expected in the phosphate and by-products sector’s results, the recovery of refining activity, the entry into operation of factories of useful substances and continued consolidation of agriculture and food industries.
He asserted that taking into consideration the anticipation of slower global growth, Tunisia is expected to improve the quality of its production and to position itself on the Libyan and Algerian markets, which import 8% of electrical and mechanical products from Tunisia, and to conquer Arab markets, notably the Gulf countries’.