Economy of Tunisia

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Economy of Tunisia
Currency Tunisian dinar (TND)
GDP $95.6 billion PPP (2009 est.)
GDP growth 3% (2009 est.)
GDP per capita $9,100 PPP (2009 est.)
GDP by sector agriculture: 11%; industry: 35.3%; services: 53.7% (2009 est.)
Inflation (CPI) 3.5% (2009 est.)
below poverty line
3.8% (2005 est.)
Gini coefficient 40 (2005 est.)
Labour force 3.74 million (2009 est.)
Labour force
by occupation
agriculture: 18.3%; industry: 31.9%; services: 49.8% (2009 est.)
Unemployment 13.3% (2009 est.)
Main industries petroleum, mining (particularly phosphate and iron ore), tourism, textiles, footwear, agribusiness, beverages
Ease of doing business rank 50th1
Exports $14.42 billion (2009 est.)
Export goods clothing, semi-finished goods and textiles, agricultural products, mechanical goods, phosphates and chemicals, hydrocarbons, electrical equipment
Main export partners  France 26.3%
 Italy 16.0%
 Germany 9.4%
 Libya 7.9%
 United States 4.3% (2012 est.)2
Imports $18.12 billion (2009 est.)
Import goods textiles, machinery and equipment, hydrocarbons, chemicals, foodstuffs
Main import partners  France 20.2%
 Italy 16.9%
 Germany 7.5%
 China 6.1%
 Spain 5.4%
 Algeria 4.4% (2012 est.) 3
FDI stock $31.86 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
Gross external debt $19.6 billion (31 December 2009 est.)
Public finances
Public debt 47.1% of GDP (2009 est.)
Revenues $10.05 billion (2009 est.)
Expenses $11.23 billion (2009 est.)
Credit rating
Foreign reserves US$9.269 billion (April 2011)6

Main data source: CIA World Fact Book

All values, unless otherwise stated, are in US dollars

Tunisia is in the process of economic reform and liberalization after decades of heavy state direction and participation in the economy. Prudent economic and fiscal planning have resulted in moderate but sustained growth for over a decade. Tunisia's economic growth historically has depended on oil, phosphates, agri-food products, car parts manufacturing, and tourism. In the World Economic Forum 2008/2009 Global Competitiveness Report, the country ranks first in Africa and 36th globally for economic competitiveness, well ahead of Portugal (43), Italy (49) and Greece (67).7dead link. With a GDP (PPP) per capita of $9795 Tunisia is among the wealthiest countries in Africa. Based on HDI, Tunisia ranks 5th in Africa.

Historical trend

Current GDP per capita soared by more than 380% in the Seventies (1970–1980: USD 280–1,369). But this proved unsustainable and it collapsed to a cumulative 10% growth in the turbulent Eighties (1980–1990: USD 1,369–1,507), rising again to almost 50% cumulative growth in the Nineties (1990–2000: USD 1,507–2,245), signifying the impact of successful diversification.8

This is a chart of trend of gross domestic product of Tunisia (estimated) by the International Monetary Fund with figures in millions of Tunisian Dinars.9

Year Gross Domestic Product (Constant Prices - Billions) US Dollar Exchange (PPP) Inflation Index
Per Capita Income
(as % of USA)
1980 7.620 0.244 Tunisian Dinars 29 11.16
1985 9.358 0.305 Tunisian Dinars 46 6.59
1990 10.816 0.347 Tunisian Dinars 65 6.50
1995 13.074 0.401 Tunisian Dinars 85 7.36
2000 17.181 0.440 Tunisian Dinars 100 5.85
2005 21.372 0.437 Tunisian Dinars 114 6.89
2007 23.966 0.439 Tunisian Dinars 120

For purchasing power parity comparisons, the US Dollar is exchanged at 0.44 Tunisian Dinars only. Mean wages were $4.17 per manhour in 2009.

Growing foreign debt and the foreign exchange crisis in the mid-1980s. In 1986, the government launched a structural adjustment program to liberalize prices, reduce tariffs, and reorient Tunisia toward a market economy.

Olive grove in Sfax, Tunisia

Tunisia's economic reform program has been lauded as a model by international financial institutions. The government has liberalized prices, reduced tariffs, lowered debt-service-to-exports and debt-to-GDP ratios, and extended the average maturity of its $10 billion foreign debt. Structural adjustment brought additional lending from the World Bank and other Western creditors. In 1990, Tunisia acceded to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

In 1996 Tunisia entered into an "Association Agreement" with the European Union (EU) which removes tariff and other trade barriers on most goods by 2008. In conjunction with the Association Agreement, the EU is assisting the Tunisian government's Mise A Niveau (upgrading) program to enhance the productivity of Tunisian businesses and prepare for competition in the global marketplace.

The government has totally or partially privatized around 160 state-owned enterprises since the privatization program was launched in 1987. Although the program is supported by the GATT, the government has had to move carefully to avoid mass firings. Unemployment continues to plague Tunisia's economy and is aggravated by a rapidly growing work force. An estimated 55% of the population is under the age of 25. Officially, 14% of the Tunisian work force is unemployed.

External trade and investment

Tunisian exports in 2006

In 1992, Tunisia re-entered the private international capital market for the first time in 6 years, securing a $10-million line of credit for balance-of-payments support. In January 2003 Standard & Poor's affirmed its investment grade credit ratings for Tunisia. The World Economic Forum 2002-03 ranked Tunisia 34th in the Global Competitiveness Index Ratings (two places behind South Africa, the continent's leader). In April 2002, Tunisia's first US dollar-denominated sovereign bond issue since 1997 raised $458 million, with maturity in 2012.

Geographical repartition of Tunisian export in 2008.
Geographical repartition of Tunisian import in 2008.

The Bourse de Tunis is under the control of the state-run Financial Market Council and lists over 50 companies. The government offers substantial tax incentives to encourage companies to join the exchange, and expansion is occurring.

The Tunisian government adopted a unified investment code in 1993 to attract foreign capital. More than 1,600 export-oriented joint venture firms operate in Tunisia to take advantage of relatively low labor costs and preferential access to nearby European markets. Economic links are closest with European countries, which dominate Tunisia's trade. Tunisia's currency, the dinar, is not traded outside Tunisia. However, partial convertibility exists for bonafide commercial and investment transaction. Certain restrictions still limit operations carried out by Tunisian residents.

The stock market capitalisation of listed companies in Tunisia was valued at $5.3 Billion in 2007, 15% of 2007 GDP, by the World Bank[1].

For 2007, foreign direct investment totaled TN Dinar 2 billion in 2007, or 5.18% of the total volume of investment in the country. This figure is up 35.7% from 2006 and includes 271 new foreign enterprises and the expansion of 222 others already based in the country.

The economic growth rate seen for 2007, at 6.3% is the highest achieved in a decade.

Loan Guarantee10

On April 20, 2012, U.S. Treasury Secretary 11 and Tunisian Finance Minister Houcine Dimassi signed a declaration of intent12 to move forward on a U.S. loan guarantee for Tunisia. The U.S. Government would provide this loan guarantee to enable the Tunisian government to access significant market financing at affordable rates and favorable maturities with the backing of a U.S. guarantee of principal and interest (up to 100 percent).

The support would consist of the U.S. guarantee of Tunisian government-issued debt (or of bank loans made to the Government of Tunisia). This guarantee will significantly reduce the Tunisian government's borrowing costs at a time when market access has become more expensive for many emerging market countries. In the weeks ahead, both governments intend to make progress on a loan guarantee agreement that would allow Tunisia to move forward with a debt issuance.

The ceremony took place at the World Bank immediately following the meeting of Finance Ministers of the Deauville Partnership with Arab Countries in Transition.

Economic data

GDP: purchasing power parity - $77.00 billion (2007 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 3.3% (2012 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $7,473 (2007 est.)

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 11.6%
industry: 25.7%
services: 62.8% (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line: 7.4% (2005 est.)

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 2.3%
highest 10%: 31.5% (2000)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): 3.1% (2007 est.)

Labor force: 3.593 million (2007 est.)
note: shortage of skilled labor

Labor force - by occupation: services 55%, industry 23%, agriculture 22% (1995 est.)

Unemployment rate: 14.1% (2007 est.)

Ease of Doing Business Rank: 55th1

revenues: $6.101 billion
expenditures: $6.855 billion, including capital expenditures of $1.6 billion (2003 est.)

Industries: Petroleum, mining (particularly phosphate and iron ore), tourism, textiles, footwear, agribusiness, beverages

Industrial production growth rate: 7.2% (2007 est.)


  • Production: 12.85 Billion kWh (2005)
  • Production by source:
    • fossil fuel: 99.5%
    • hydro: 0.5%
    • nuclear: 0%
    • other: 0% (1998)
  • Consumption: 11.17 billion kWh (2005)
  • Exports: 0 kWh (2005)
  • Imports: 0 kWh (2005)


Agriculture - products: olives, grain, dairy products, tomatoes, citrus fruit, beef, sugar beets, dates, almonds,

Exports and imports

Exports: $15.15 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)

  • Exports - commodities: textiles, mechanical goods, phosphates and chemicals, agricultural pie

, hydrocarbons

  • Exports - partners: France 30.7%, Italy 20.6%, Germany 8.4%, Spain 5.4%, Libya 5.1% (2006

Imports: $18.03 billion f.o.b. (2007 est.)

  • Imports - commodities: machinery and equipment, hydrocarbons, chemicals, fuel, food
  • Imports - partners: France 24.1%, Italy 22.2%, Germany 9.8%, Spain 5.1% (2006)

Debt - external: $19.27 billion (December 2007)

Economic aid - recipient: $376.5 million (2003)


Currency: 1 Tunisian dinar (TD) = 1,000 millimes

Exchange rates: Tunisian dinars (TD) per US$1 – 1.2776 (2007), 1.331 (2006), 1.2974 (2005), 1.2455 (2004), 1.2885 (2003)

Fiscal year: calendar year

See also


  1. ^ a b "Doing Business in Tunisia 2013". World Bank. Retrieved 2012-10-23. 
  2. ^ "Export Partners of Tunisia". CIA World Factbook. 2012. Retrieved 2013-07-27. 
  3. ^ "Import Partners of Tunisia". CIA World Factbook. 2012. Retrieved 2013-07-27. 
  4. ^ "Sovereigns rating list". Standard & Poor's. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  5. ^ a b c Rogers, Simon; Sedghi, Ami (15 April 2011). "How Fitch, Moody's and S&P rate each country's credit rating". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "International Reserves and Foreign Currency Liquidity - TUNISIA". International Monetary Fund. 18 April 2011. Retrieved 31 May 2011. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Tunisia: GDP per capita". "Index Mundi". Retrieved 2012-07-02. 
  9. ^ "IMF: World Economic Outlook database, April 2006". 
  10. ^ "Treasury Secretary Geithner and Tunisian Finance Minister Dimassi Sign Declaration to Work Toward U.S. Loan Guarantee for Tunisia". U.S. Department of the Treasury. Retrieved 2012-06-13. 
  11. ^ "Timothy Geithner". 
  12. ^ "FAQs: U.S. LOAN GUARANTEE FOR TUNISIA". U.S. Department of the Treasury. Retrieved 2012-09-13. 

External links

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