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Tunisia: It is time to develop business intelligence and anticipation

Lotfi Khedir, Director of the Observatory of Foreign Trade addresses the worsening of the decline in petroleum and phosphate products and its impact on the pace of exports especially in the month of July, in an interview with AfricanManager. Interview:

How are the results of foreign trade for the month of July?

The results of foreign trade at the end of July 2011 show, on the one hand, a slowdown in foreign exchange in terms of both volume and value and, on the other hand, a reduction in trade deficit as well as a significant decline in the rate of exports from EMI (4.2% in July against 37.7% in March and 35.7 in July, 2010).

Could we say that the month of July was characterized by reduced trade both in terms of volume and value?

Exactly, last month was characterized by a significant decrease. In terms of value, the 7.7% fall in exports in July explained mainly by a 44% decline in energy exports and the aggravation of the decline of phosphate and derivatives which stood at -59.4%, knowing that July was also marked by higher world prices of products in both sectors.

Regarding energy, the 62% decline in exports is related to the supply by STIR of national crude oil. Concerning phosphate and its derivatives, we note that this is the highest drop since the beginning of the year, i.e. -67%.

Given the results of the first half (+13.8%) and on the basis of results in July (-7.7%), a slowdown in exports was recorded after seven months of 2011, reaching 10.2%.

It should be noted that these results should not obscure the significant decline in the volume of exports at the end of the first 7 months (-25.7%), an achievement almost identical to the first quarter.

Let’s talk about sectoral analysis?

Sectoral analysis allowed to group industries into three categories: First, the worsening of decline in exports of the energy sector, phosphates and derivatives and various industries.

In terms of energy, worsening reached -26.3% against -18% in the first half, resulting in value by a deceleration in exports of 0.7%. Same case for phosphate and derivatives where the worsening reached 39% during the first 7 months, which resulted in the decline of exports in value terms to reach 28.4%

With regard to the various industries, the worsening rate amounted to -28.4% during the first 7 months of the year. Note that except for Libya, this sector’s exports posted an increase in value as well as in volume, reaching 12.1% and 7.5% instead of -3.2% and – 28.4%, thanks to the consolidation of exports to traditional markets like France (+10.3%), Italy (+34.4%) and Algeria (+16.9%)

Then, the stability of exports of EMI and textile, clothing and leather and footwear industries.

In terms of volume, EMI fell by -4.7% after the slowdown in consumer spending for automobiles positions observed in France (-11.2%) during the second quarter compared to the first quarter and falling car sales in Europe, from 16.8% in March 2011 to 1.5% in June of that year ..

For textiles and clothing and leather and footwear, and in terms of value, stability was around 10.5%, confirming the decline in household consumption. Stability was there in fact despite the 6% drop in sales of textiles and clothing due to the start of the sales season in France and the decline in household consumption of 0.3%

Finally, there is the upward trend in agriculture and food industry that has reached in terms of value 39% and 34% by volume. This is the effect of Libya.

And by foreign trade regime?

At this level, the decline in the rate of exports is due both to the on-shore regime (-3.8 at the end of seven months against 1.7% in the first half) than to the off-shore regime (16% after 7 months against 21.3% in the first half).

In light of these results, the trade deficit fell by 16.3% to reach a value of 4,127.1 MTD compared to 4929.5 MTD in 2010, despite the worsening of the trade deficit of energy and food and reduction of the trade surplus of phosphate and derivatives.

In conclusion?

Despite this decline, it is important to take advantage of rising world prices of some products like the phosphate, while developing business intelligence and anticipation, and above all improving responsiveness and sourcing. This is a crucial step in meeting the challenge especially when data from the OECD’s report on August 8 point to a slowdown in global economic growth, mainly in the euro zone.

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