Tunisia’s trade deficit is not about to unwind even though it decreased slightly during the first quarter of 2013, compared with the same period last year, reaching 2,418.9 million Tunisian dinars (MTD) now against 2,613.1 MTD, a year earlier.
According to data released by the National Statistics Institute (INS), the rate of coverage of imports by exports has thus gained 3.2 percentage points, reaching 74.3% during the first quarter of 2013 against 71.1% during the same period in 2012.
The results of the Tunisian trade from January to March 2013 show a stagnation of exports (8.5% against 9.1% in 2012) in addition to a sharp regression in imports, which have increased only by 3.9% against 20.7% during the same period last year. In this regard, exports reached 6,983.1 MTD compared with 6,438.2 MTD in 2012.
As for imports, they rose from 9,051.3 MD between January and March 2012 to 9,402 MTD during the same period in 2013.
INS analysts attribute increased exports, particularly, to external sales of agricultural and food products (32.5%) including olive oil (328.9 MTD against 125.8 MD), various manufacturing industries (16.6%), phosphates and derivatives (14%) and textile and leather clothing (5.4%).
The INS, however, pointed to a 0.7% decline in energy exports due to a 9.9% decrease in sales of refined petroleum products, which fell from 310.9 MTD to 280.2 MTD.
However, thanks to the 7.7% decrease recorded in energy imports, due to Tunisia’s reduced purchases of refined petroleum products and natural gas, the deficit in energy balance went down by 112.7 MTD to reach 506.4 MTD.
Regarding other purchases of Tunisia, they increased by 41.8% for food products including purchases of soft wheat (74.3 MTD against 217.5 MTD), and imports of raw materials and semi-finished products (5.1%) and non-food consumer products (5.3%), against a decline in imports of capital equipment (3.4%). Regarding Tunisia’s trade with the European Union, its main trading partner, it went up by 6.6% for exports and 4.8% for imports.
This increase has particularly involved Tunisian exports to the Netherlands and Spain, up 60.4% and 73.5%, respectively, against a decline in sales to France and Italy, by 2.2% and 0.8%, respectively. The last two countries are still the leading providers of Tunisia with imports” shares of 20.1% for France and 14.2% for Italy.
Tunisia’s exports to Arab countries posted a slight improvement, particularly with Algeria (1.5%), Egypt (1.5%) and Libya (0.3).
Tunisia’s trade deficit particularly deteriorated in 2012, to reach 11,635 MTD against 8,603.5 MTD in 2011.