View the information below regarding the economy of Tunisia. The summary and statistics contains
gdp, industry, agriculture and more for Tunisia. If you need other information please visit the
Tunisia Country Page.
GDP (2002): $14.4 billion.
Growth rate (2002):1.7%.
Per capita current GDP (2002): $2,377.
Natural resources: crude oil, gas, phosphates, iron ore, lead, zinc, salt.
Agriculture (10.8% of GDP): Products--olives, beets, dates, oranges, almonds, grain, sugar.
Industry (30.3% of GDP): Types--petroleum, mining (particularly phosphate), textiles, footwear, food processing.
Services (38.2% of GDP): Tourism, commerce, transport, communications.
Trade (2002): Exports--$7.6 billion: hydrocarbons, agricultural products, phosphates, chemicals, textiles, mechanical, electric components By region--Africa 8.1%, Americas 1.7%, Asia 4.9%, Europe 82.0%. By country (U.S.$million)--France $2380.5, Italy $1637.1, Germany, $873.8, Belgium, $326.4, Libya, $352.2, U.S. $59.9, Spain $362.9. Imports ($10.6 billion)--industrial goods and equipment, hydrocarbons, food, consumer goods. By region--Africa 5.7%, Americas 6.7% Asia 7.6%, Europe 78.3%. By country (U.S.$million)--France $2721.9, Italy $2072.8, Germany $949.2, Belgium $330.5, Libya $321.3, U.S. $336.4, Spain $526.8.
Trade balance deficit: $3.0 billion.
Economy of Tunisia
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 sustained growth for over a decade. Tunisia's economic growth historically has depended on oil, phosphates, agriculture, and tourism. The government's economic policies had limited success during the early years of independence. During the 1960s, a drive for collectivization caused unrest, and farm production fell sharply. Higher prices for phosphates and oil and growing revenues from tourism stimulated growth in the 1970s, but an emphasis on protectionism and import substitution led to inefficiencies. Tunisia received considerable economic assistance during this period from the United States and European and Arab countries and is one of the few developing countries in the region to have moved into the "middle income" category.
As a result of an overvalued dinar and a growing foreign debt sparked a 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.
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 Agreements 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 about 160 state-owned enterprises since the privatization program was launched in 1987. Although the program is supported by the UGTT, 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, 15% of the Tunisian work force is unemployed, but the real numbers of jobless or underemployed are higher.
In 1992, Tunisia reentered 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 and Poor 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 dollar-denominated sovereign bond issue since 1997 raised U.S.$458 million, with maturity in 2012.
The stock exchange is under the control of the state-run Financial Market Council and lists nearly 50 companies. The government offers substantial tax incentives to encourage companies to join the exchange, but expansion is still slow.
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.