Tunisia's trade gap widens 20% y/y to USD 3.5bn in Jan-May 2014

By bne IntelliNews June 11, 2014

Tunisia’s trade gap expanded 20% y/y to TND 5.69bn (USD 3.44bn) in the first five months of the year on falling exports, mainly those of food and energy, and rising imports, the statistics office (INS) said on June 11. The trade deficit expansion, however, narrowed from 31% y/y at end-April. The central bank recently warned of the widening current account deficit, which reached 3.8% of the forecast GDP in the first four months of the year compared with 2.6% of GDP during the same period a year earlier.

The current account balance was pressured by an expanding trade gap given high energy and food imports. Such negative parameters, coupled with falling FDI into Tunisia, and despite the government’s external borrowing, cut FX reserves to TND 10.615bn as of May 27. The latter covered 95 days of imports, down from 106 days during the same period of 2013.

Exports fell 2.0% y/y to TND 11.54bn in January-May, whereas imports rose 4.3% y/y to TND 17.22bn.

Exports were dragged down by a 32% y/y drop in food and agro sales to TND 830mn in January-May on falling foreign sales of value-added olive oil. Energy exports also fell 5.3% y/y to TND 1.53over the period .

Energy imports, however, climbed 16% y/y to TND 3bn in January-May while consuming goods purchases rose 5.4% y/y to TND 4.1bn on strong private consumption. Food imports dropped 4.3% y/y to TND 1.52bn on a strong local harvest season.

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