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Tunisia: foreign trade decelerates, even stabilizes!

After a remarkable acceleration in exports and a more moderate acceleration in imports in March, foreign trade in goods in April was relatively stable. Exports decreased by 1.8%, while imports increased slightly (+0.4%).

The monthly trade deficit widened by 92.8 MD to 1175.9 MD in April 2021, compared to March 2021, according to the note on “Foreign Trade at current prices (CVS-CEC), April 2021”, published by the National Institute of Statistics Thursday. The coverage rate lost 1.7 points in April 2021, compared to March 2021, to 77.2%.

This worsening of the deficit is due to a 1.8% decline in exports, mainly resulting from lower exports of agriculture and food industry (-18.6%) and energy and lubricants (-18.3%).

But despite this decline of (-1.8%) compared to March, exports remain above their level before the outbreak of the pandemic in Tunisia, or +3.8% compared to February 2020.

The fall in agri-food exports is mainly due to the decline in Tunisian sales of edible oils. It should be noted, however, that these declines have been partly offset by the 2.3% increase in exports of mechanical and electrical industries and the 4.8% rise in the textile, clothing and leather sector.

Stability of imports

In April, imports of goods almost stabilized (+0.4%). This stagnation is the result of the combination of a 4.6% increase under the general regime, coupled with a decline of 7.2% under the offshore regime.

Despite this relative stability overall, a sharp increase is recorded in purchases of energy products (+47.1%)

Excluding energy, imports went down 4.2% caused by the regression of supplies of raw materials and semi-finished products (-4.0%) as well as consumer products (-9.3%), mainly due to lower imports of household appliances.

Exports down with major partners

A decline in exports is observed with the majority of countries, with the exception of Germany, to which exports have improved by 2.5%. Indeed, the country’s sales have decreased with its main European partners, such as France (-6.9%) and Italy (-8.2%), leading to a decline at the European level (-4.7%). The same applies to the Maghreb countries (-13.2%) and Turkey (-46.7%).

On the other hand, imports from the European area have stagnated (+0.2%), while purchases from the AMU and China improved 4.7% and 1.6%, respectively, and imports from Turkey fell 8.1%.

Quarterly results

Exports in the three months to April rose by 9.8% compared to the previous three months.

Similarly, imports posted an increase of 10.9% compared to the previous three months.

The INS pointed out that foreign trade figures are adjusted for seasonal variations and calendar effects (working days and those due to particular calendar events, whether fixed, such as national holidays, or variable, such as Ramadan or religious holidays).

This approach allows a more accurate reading of the economic situation, following the evolution compared to the previous month or quarter,” he said.

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