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Tunisia: food trade balance deficit increases threefold

Grain imports continue to weigh heavily on the food trade balance of Tunisia which posted a deficit of 688.3 million dinars (MD) until end May 2021, compared with a deficit of 171.6 MD in the same period of the previous year, said the National Observatory of Agriculture (ONAGRI).

The rate of coverage of imports by exports is 75.2% in 2021 against 93.0% in 2020. In value, food exports have recorded a decline of 8.8% while imports have increased by 12.8%.

According to ONAGRI, the deficit recorded is mainly the result of the higher pace of grain imports (+13.9%) on the one hand and the decline in olive oil exports (-24.8%) on the other.

However, the price of olive oil has increased in May 2021, after a fluctuation recorded since the beginning of the year 2021.

Regarding the prices of grain products (soft wheat, barley and corn), they have seen a slight decrease in May 2021 compared to previous months.

Compared to the same period last year, export prices went up 43.6% for olive oil and 17.4% for tomatoes. On the other hand, those of fishery products, dates and citrus fruits have dropped by 18%, 13.2% and 4.1% respectively.

Lower meat, potato and sugar imports

A significant decline in imports of meat, potatoes and sugar was recorded at the end of May 2021.

Import prices of grain have risen by (+10.3%) for durum wheat, (+19.0%) for soft wheat, (+22.3%) for barley and (+42.2%) for corn. It is the same for the prices of milk and derivatives (+26.7%) and vegetable oils (+26.5%), while the prices of meat and sugar have decreased (- 56.2%) and (-7.4%), respectively.

ONAGRI recalled that the country’s overall trade balance deficit narrowed at the end of May 2021, compared to the previous year, posting a decrease of 2.6% in 2021 (-5941.1 MD) compared to 2020 (-6099.9 MD).

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