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Tunisia Economy Profile 2019

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Economy - overview

Tunisia's economy – structurally designed to favor vested interests – faced an array of challenges exposed by the 2008 global financial crisis that helped precipitate the 2011 Arab Spring revolution. After the revolution and a series of terrorist attacks, including on the country’s tourism sector, barriers to economic inclusion continued to add to slow economic growth and high unemployment.

Following an ill-fated experiment with socialist economic policies in the 1960s, Tunisia focused on bolstering exports, foreign investment, and tourism, all of which have become central to the country's economy. Key exports now include textiles and apparel, food products, petroleum products, chemicals, and phosphates, with about 80% of exports bound for Tunisia's main economic partner, the EU. Tunisia's strategy, coupled with investments in education and infrastructure, fueled decades of 4-5% annual GDP growth and improved living standards. Former President Zine el Abidine BEN ALI (1987-2011) continued these policies, but as his reign wore on cronyism and corruption stymied economic performance, unemployment rose, and the informal economy grew. Tunisia’s economy became less and less inclusive. These grievances contributed to the January 2011 overthrow of BEN ALI, further depressing Tunisia's economy as tourism and investment declined sharply.

Tunisia’s government remains under pressure to boost economic growth quickly to mitigate chronic socio-economic challenges, especially high levels of youth unemployment, which has persisted since the 2011 revolution. Successive terrorist attacks against the tourism sector and worker strikes in the phosphate sector, which combined account for nearly 15% of GDP, slowed growth from 2015 to 2017. Tunis is seeking increased foreign investment and working with the IMF through an Extended Fund Facility agreement to fix fiscal deficiencies.

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$137.7 billion (2017 est.)
$135 billion (2016 est.)
$133.5 billion (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP (official exchange rate)
$39.96 billion (2017 est.)
GDP - real growth rate
2% (2017 est.)
1.1% (2016 est.)
1.2% (2015 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)
$11,900 (2017 est.)
$11,800 (2016 est.)
$11,800 (2015 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

Gross national saving
12% of GDP (2017 est.)
13.4% of GDP (2016 est.)
12.5% of GDP (2015 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use
household consumption: 71.7% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 20.8% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 19.4% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 0% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 43.2% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -55.2% (2017 est.)
GDP - composition by sector
agriculture: 10.1% (2017 est.)
industry: 26.2% (2017 est.)
services: 63.8% (2017 est.)
Population below poverty line
15.5% (2010 est.)
Labor force
4.054 million (2017 est.)
Labor force - by occupation
agriculture: 14.8%
industry: 33.2%
services: 51.7% (2014 est.)
Unemployment rate
15.5% (2017 est.)
15.5% (2016 est.)
Unemployment, youth ages 15-24
total: 34.7%
male: 33.4%
female: 37.7% (2013 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share
lowest 10%: 2.6%
highest 10%: 27% (2010 est.)
Distribution of family income - Gini index
40 (2005 est.)
41.7 (1995 est.)
Budget
revenues: 9.876 billion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 12.21 billion (2017 est.)
Taxes and other revenues
24.7% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)
-5.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Public debt
70.3% of GDP (2017 est.)
62.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)
5.3% (2017 est.)
3.7% (2016 est.)
Central bank discount rate
5.75% (31 December 2010)
Commercial bank prime lending rate
7.31% (31 December 2016 est.)
6.76% (31 December 2013 est.)
Stock of narrow money
$12.92 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$11.83 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of broad money
$12.92 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$11.83 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of domestic credit
$36.19 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$34.18 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares
$8.887 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
$9.662 billion (31 December 2011 est.)
$10.68 billion (31 December 2010 est.)
Agriculture - products
olives, olive oil, grain, tomatoes, citrus fruit, sugar beets, dates, almonds; beef, dairy products
Industries
petroleum, mining (particularly phosphate, iron ore), tourism, textiles, footwear, agribusiness, beverages
Industrial production growth rate
0.5% (2017 est.)
Current Account Balance
-$4.191 billion (2017 est.)
-$3.694 billion (2016 est.)
Exports
$13.82 billion (2017 est.)
$13.57 billion (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities
clothing, semi-finished goods and textiles, agricultural products, mechanical goods, phosphates and chemicals, hydrocarbons, electrical equipment
Exports - partners
France 32.1%, Italy 17.3%, Germany 12.4% (2017)
Imports
$19.09 billion (2017 est.)
$18.37 billion (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities
textiles, machinery and equipment, hydrocarbons, chemicals, foodstuffs
Imports - partners
Italy 15.8%, France 15.1%, China 9.2%, Germany 8.1%, Turkey 4.8%, Algeria 4.7%, Spain 4.5% (2017)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold
$5.594 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$5.941 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Debt - external
$30.19 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$28.95 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home
$37.95 billion (31 December 2017 est.)
$37.15 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad
$285 million (31 December 2017 est.)
$285 million (31 December 2016 est.)
Exchange rates
Tunisian dinars (TND) per US dollar -
2.48 (2017 est.)
2.148 (2016 est.)
2.148 (2015 est.)
1.9617 (2014 est.)
1.6976 (2013 est.)
Fiscal year
calendar year

Source: CIA World Factbook
This page was last updated on December 7, 2019

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