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Tunisia: trade deficit declines by 19.9% despite fall in phosphate exports

The trade deficit declined, in the first half of the current year, by 19.9% or 854.4 MTD, reaching 3,588.8 MTD compared with 4,446.2 MTD in the first half of 2010, according to indications provided by Director of the Foreign Trade Observatory Lotfi Kthir.

In the process, the coverage rate has improved by 6.4 points compared with the previous year, reaching 78.3% at the end of the first half of 2011 against 71.9% in 2010 as a result of an evolution of exports at a higher rate (13.8%) than imports (4.5%)

In view of the first 5 months of 2011, there was relative stability in the improvement in exports both in volume (-21%) and in value (+13.8%).

In terms of value, the Director of the Observatory pointed to a fall in exports in the second quarter which reached +13.5% in June compared with +24% in May. This deceleration resulted mainly from phosphates and derivatives (-21.5%).

Regarding variations in exports, a 7.4% decline in exports was recorded in the month of June compared with May, resulting mainly from energy (- 47.7%) and phosphates and derivatives (-26.6%).

However, this stability should not overshadow what follows: in terms of slide, all sectors experienced growth, except for phosphate.

In terms of volume, there was a change in the configuration of the slide in exports to reach -21.7%, due to phosphates and derivatives (-42%) and various industries (-31.2%).

There is also a decline in exports in terms of variation in exports of 23.2% in June compared to May, following an upward trend since the start of the year, moving from -21.5 % in February to +28.4% in May. This is mainly due to energy (-42.3%) and phosphates and derivatives (-38.3%).

In general, exports were down 6% in the second quarter compared to the previous quarter. However, an improvement in terms of variation was recorded in exports, involving mechanical and electrical industries (from -16.6% in May to +11.4% in June) and agriculture and food industry (from +0.3% to +22.7%)

Optimism for the coming period

Compared to the first quarter, a change in configuration of the sector’s contribution to the increase in exports primarily involved agriculture (from 8.7% in the first quarter to 21.2% in the first half) and food industry (81.8% to 55.4%)

For agriculture and food industries, it is reported that Libya is the first destination with a share of 24% at the end of the first half against 14.60% in the first quarter. In this regard, the month of June was characterized by a significant improvement of agricultural and food exports, which accounted for 85% of all exports to Libya against 75% in May. At the level of this sector, exports to that country showed an improvement of 194.2 MTD to reach 307.3 MTD.

Regarding the geographical distribution of agricultural and food products, the Director of the Observatory said that an improvement in exports was recorded to Italy (+ 24.2MTD compared to -10.8 MTD at the end of first quarter) and to Algeria, from +10 MTD in the first quarter to 35 MTD tat the end of the first half.

This is due to vegetable oils (+25 MTD). Same case for Cameroon, which has recorded an improvement (from +2.2 MTD in the first quarter to 7.2 MTD in the first half.

It is worth noting that a reduction in the worsening of trade deficit has been recorded since May (175 MTD) to reach 82 MTD by the end of June.

Exports of various industries, in turn, outside Libya, have increased both in value and in volume, reaching respectively +12.7% and +10.8% against -33.3% and -9.4 %.

For its part, market loss was reported at the level of phosphates and derivatives, namely New Zealand and Uruguay. However, in terms of volume, exports fell by 34.2% following the cessation of exports of DAP in the months of May and April and raw phosphate (cessation in May, April and June).

However, a catch up is expected in the coming period as a result of the improvement in exportable supply and the evolution of world prices of phosphate products. In terms of energy, a stability of the rate of decline in the volume of exports has been recorded since May (-18%), knowing that exports were limited to crude oil. However, a deceleration was recorded in exports of mechanical and electrical industries both in terms of volume (from + .03% in the first quarter to -4.4% in the first half) and value (25.5% in the first quarter to 22.2% in the first half).

Yet, the textile and clothing sector has accelerated both in terms of volume (from 5% in the first quarter to 8.2% in first half) or in value (+6.3% in the first quarter to 12.1 % in first half). The official noted, in this context, that exports to European countries, mainly France, Italy and Germany have improved to reach 10.7%, 6.4% and 30.8%, respectively.

“Some recovery is possible for France and Germany during the second quarter while vigilance is necessary for Italy which is currently facing a crisis,” concluded the Director of the Foreign Trade Observatory.


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