Tunisia: trade deficit doubles at end February to 2.5 billion dinars

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    Tunisia’s external trade flows at current prices posted an increase in exports by 4.7% in the first two months of 2017, at a value of 4.626 billion dinars compared with 4.418 billion dinars during the same period of the year 2016 and a significant rise in imports by 23.7% for a value of 7.137 billion dinars against 5.769 billion a year earlier, said the National Institute of Statistics (INS).

    As a result of this evolution of trade between imports (+ 23.7%) and exports (+ 4.7%), the trade deficit widened to 2.510 billion dinars against 1.350 billion during the same period in 2016.

    The coverage rate dropped 11.8 points from last year’s level to 64.8% from 76.6% in the same period of 2016.

    Exports

    The increase in exports (4.7%) in the two months of 2017 was mainly attributable to the agricultural sector and the agro-food industries, which grew by 17.4% after the rise of the country’s date sales (127.5 MTD versus 72.4 MTD), mechanical and electrical industries 7.5%, textiles and clothing and leather 7.1%, and the manufacturing sector 3.8%.

    On the other hand, other sectors recorded a decrease, notably energy 39.4% as a result of the decline in Tunisia’s crude oil sales (69.8 MTD compared to 149.6 MTD), as well as the mining, phosphates and derivatives of 12.4% due to the decrease in exports of phosphoric acid (48.9 MTD against 124 MTD).

    Imports

    Imports increased remarkably by 23.7% as a result of the rise in imports from the energy sector by 135.2% as a result of higher crude oil purchases (178.2 MTD versus 31.8 MTD) and refined products (525.1 MTD versus 352.8 MTD).

    Similarly, the agricultural and food staples sector grew 60.1% as a result of increased purchases of soft wheat (98.9 MTD compared to 21.9 MTD), raw materials and semi-finished products 10.2%, capital goods 17.5%, mining, phosphates and derivatives 7.5% and non-food consumer goods 14.2%. The INS reported that non-energy imports went up 15.7%.

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