Tunisia’s food trade balance recorded a surplus of 222.6 million dinars (MD) in the 1st quarter of 2018 (1st Q), against a deficit of 384 MD in the 1st Q of 2017, due to the doubling of food exports of olive oil, according to data released on Wednesday by the Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries Ministry.
Over the same period, the import coverage rate by exports edged up by 117%, compared to 67.1% in 2017.
This growth is due to the increase in the value of food exports by 95.6%, against 12.1% of food imports.
The surplus in the food trade balance explains the overall improvement in the coverage rate of the trade balance by 1.7 points, i.e. 73.6%.
Exports of food products reached the equivalent of 1,530.9 MD in the 1st Q of 2018, that is up by 95.6%, compared to the same period in 2017, due to the doubling of exports of olive oil in quantity (80.4 thousand tons, against 26.4 thousand tons) and in value (776.9 MD against 233.3MD) and the 9% rise in the price level.
These revenues explain the growth of total food exports by 63%, in addition to the increase in revenue from fresh seafood and dates, rising by 60 and 34%, respectively.
The sales value of fresh vegetables increased by 64%, including geothermal tomatoes.
The value of food exports in Q1 2018 represented 15% of the country’s total exports, compared to 10.4% in the same period last year.
The value of food imports reached, during the same period, about 1,308.3 MD, up by 12.1%, compared to the same period in 2017, due to the fall in the exchange rate of the Tunisian dinar by other foreign currencies, in addition to the growth in the value of imports of certain basic foodstuffs such as durum wheat (10%), diary by-products (61%) and sugar (35%).
Over the same period, the purchase value of a number of food products declined, such as barley, yellow maize and coffee, which rose by 21%, 32% and 21%, respectively, due to the drop in imported quantities.
The value of imports accounted for about 9.4% of the country’s total imports, compared with 10.2% in the same period the previous year.