Area: 163,610 sq. km
Population: 11,110,000 (2014, est.)
GDP: USD 48.6bn (2014, est.)
Exports: USD 16.61 (2014, est.)
Imports: USD 23.4bn (2014, est.)
Currency: Tunisian Dinar (TND)
Exchange rate: 1 USD = 2.04 TND (01/2016)
Economic Structure and Development:
Tunisia’s economy was affected by the political upheavals in 2010, which lets to negative economic consequences and the negative GDP growth rate of minus 1.9% in 2011. Yet following a quick recovery, Tunisia has already returned to a work growth rate of 3.6% by 2012. Furthermore, the IMF has estimated a 3.0% growth rate for 2013 and an average growth of 4-5% between 2014 and 2016. Tunisia’s economy is characterised by its open market policy, its diverse economy and it’s close relations with Europe. Nevertheless, the effects of the uprising 2011 remain a challenge for the country. Contributing more than 60% of GDP in 2012, the service sector is the most important income source for the economy, followed by the industry sector, contributing 32%, and the agriculture sector, which represented 8%. Unlike many other countries in the region, Tunisia has no large deposits off fossil resources. Although oil and gas reserves are available, all production Frank from almost 120,000 bpd in the 1980s two 67,000 bpd in 2012. According to the US Energy Information Administration, the country has 2.3tn cubic feet of proven gas reserves, producing 65.8bn cubic feet of natural gas in 2012. Although some sectors, such as agriculture, have lost their importance in recent years, it is noteworthy the Tunisia is still one of the major exporters off olive oil world wide, and the fourth largest producer of phosphates.
Despite the uprising in 2011, The IMF has projected an increase in Tunisia’s GDP from USD 45.4bn to USD 48.4bn between 2012 and 2013, forecasting and GDP value of USD 51.5bn for 2014. The decreasing inflation rate also indicates positive economic development (6% in 2013 to a projected 4.7% in 2014). As in many other countries in the Near and Middle East, the population is young and well-educated. The age group of 25-54 year olds accounts for the largest share of population, with 44.7% in 2013 (0-14 year old: 23%; and 15-24 years old: 16.5%). Despite the huge potential workforce, the unemployment rate stood at 17.6% in 2012. The predicted figures promise a slight reduction to 16.7% in 2013 and 16% in 2014. Nevertheless, 42.3% of the youth (15-24 years old) were unemployed in 2011.
The tourism industry is a good example of the improvement of Tunisia’s situation. Tunisia has been a popular tourist destination for many years, and the economy cannot forgo the income derived from it. The sector accounts for 6.5% of GDP. Again, a loss was recorded due to the revolution, yet the sector was able to recover. Between January and September 2013, 329,000 German tourists visited Tunisia. Other countries have also recognised the tourism potential of Tunisia. Russia and other Eastern European countries, for example, are essential for this industry given that they contribute a majority of tourists.
In the aftermath of the revolution of 2010/2011 Tunisia is still undergoing fundamental transformation process, and the course of political stability is now essential for economic development. If the country managers to achieve political transformation, the economy will improve, as the aforementioned facts, figures and forecasts suggest. For Tunisia’s political elite, it is important to serve the needs of the population by improving the standard of living and providing employment opportunities. Challenges will include the struggle against unemployment, especially among the youth. An increase in investments is also important for economic prospects. The modernisation of the tourism industry is expected to increase economic performance and provide more job opportunities.
Tunisia’s outlook is undoubtedly difficult to predict. However, key factors will remain stable, such as the high industrialisation level, the tourism industry, the middle class, the well-educated youth, the qualified workforce and the well-developed infrastructure. Tunisia’s liberal line on the economy as well as its openness to foreigners and foreign investments and its willingness to reform and modernise will help the country to stabilise its economy. In addition, its proximity to the EU is an advantage.
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