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Tunisia: trade deficit narrows at current prices

The trade deficit narrowed by 6678.4 million dinars (MD) in 2020 to -12757.8 MD against -19436.2 MD in 2019, according to a note on “Foreign Trade at current prices December 2020” published by the National Institute of Statistics (INS) Tuesday.

It states that this reduction is due to a stronger drop in imports (-18.7%) and exports (-11.7%).

According to the INS, the trade balance deficit of 12757.8 MD is largely explained by the deficit recorded with some countries, such as China (-5393.8 MD), Turkey (-2140.6 MD), Algeria (-1719.5 MD), Russia (-1007.1 MD) and Italy (-798.4 MD).

On the other hand, the balance of trade in goods recorded a surplus in 2020 with other countries mainly with France (3515.9 MD), Germany (1217 MD) and Libya (1096.3 MD).

By regime, trade is in deficit of -23760.9 MD (-31249.2 MD in 2019) under the general regime.  However, it is in surplus of 11003.1 MD (+11813 MD in 2019) under the offshore regime.

Excluding energy, the trade balance deficit decreased to -8557.3 MD and the energy balance deficit stood at -4200.5 MD (a third of the total deficit) against -7756.4 MD in 2019.

The coverage rate therefore gained 5.9 points compared to 2019 to reach 75.2% against 69.3% in 2019.

Exports down 11.7% in 2020

Exports posted a decrease of 11.7% in 2020against an increase of 7% in 2019.

They stood at 38,705.9 MD against 43,855.4 MD in 2019.

This decline concerns several sectors. Indeed, the sector of textiles, clothing and leather contracted by (-13.8%), that of mechanical and electrical industries by (-14%), that of energy by (-9.4%) and that of mining, phosphates and derivatives by (-24.4%).

On the other hand, the agriculture and food-processing industries sector saw an increase of (+12%), following the rise in olive oil sales (2299.7 MD against 1386.9 MD).

Tunisia’s exports to the European Union (74.2% of total exports) contracted by (-11.3%). This regression is explained, on the one hand, by the decline of Tunisian exports to some European partners, such as France (- 20.8%), Germany (-15.2%) and Italy (- 8%) and, on the other hand, by the increase in sales to other countries including Spain (+37.2%) and Belgium (+4.3%).

Exports to Arab countries went down with Algeria (- 28.8%), Libya (- 20.5%) and Egypt (- 13.4%).

Imports down 18.7%

Imports recorded a decrease of (-18.7%) in 2020 against an increase of (+5.5%) in 2019. In value, imports reached 51,463.7 MD against 63,291.6 MD in 2019.

This decrease is due to the drop recorded in imports of capital goods (-24.6%), raw materials and semi-finished products (-14.5%), consumer goods (-13.8%) and energy (-37.2%) under the effect of the contraction of purchases of refined products (3376.6 MD against 6416.2 MD) and natural gas (2129.1 MD against 3691.6 MD).

As for imports, trade in goods with the European Union (49.9% of total imports) saw a drop of (-21.4%) to 25671.8 MD.

Imports decreased from France (-26.6%), Italy (-25%) and Germany (-16.8%).


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