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flag Tunisia Tunisia: Economic and Political Outline

In this page: Economic Indicators | Foreign Trade in Figures | Sources of General Economic Information | Political Outline


Economic Indicators

Although over the past decade, Tunisia had an average annual growth of around 5%, the international economic crisis of 2008-2009 and subsequently the socio-political revolution that erupted in the country in early 2011, the crisis in the eurozone and the civil war in Libya have considerably worsened the situation. The country entered into recession in 2011 (-1.8%), then the economy recovered. For 2013, growth was estimated to be 2.6% and the government predicts a 4% growth in 2014 as well, although this forecast is seen as unrealistic.

In 2013, the political crisis, which was made worse by the murder of two Tunisian high-level politicians, had a negative impact on both economic growth and creditor and investor confidence. The givernment, dominated by the Islamist Ennahdha parti, was forced to announce that it would resign in favour of a technocratic administration and as a result of the national dialogue a new prime minister was chosen: Mehdi Jomaa, previously an engineer without any known party affiliation. The slow political transition also resulted in a late disimbursement of the IMF financial aid and public finances deteriorated. The deficit increased from 1% of the GDP in 2010 to 5.9% in 2013, public debt deepened (49%) and financial reserves were exhausted. The 2014 budget, 2.3% higher compared to 2013, foresees an increase in tax revenues and a relative freeze on spending (especially on management, relative to wages and subsidies). It also includes tax exemptions for low-income social categories, a 10% taxation on export-only companies and measures to improve transprency in financial transactions. Spending on developmental projects has been increased by 17%. The compensation budget for food and energy prices was cut to 22% compared to the year 2013. The aim is to maintain the budget deficit at around 6.5% of the GDP, as opposed to 7.5% in 2013. The first tranche of the precautionary loan granted to Tunisia by the IMF was signed in June 2013 and will be released in 2014; the government has also been negotiating a 300 to 500 million EUR loan with the European Union.

In purchasing power parity, Tunisia is close to the income levels of developed countries. Progress has also been made in terms of life expectancy, the place of women in society, or health infrastructure and education. The official unemployment rate has increased as a result of the crisis (17%), and remains higher among young people, especially among young graduates whose unemployment rate exceeds the average rate by 3 to 5 points.

Main Indicators 20112012201320142015 (e)
GDP (billions USD) 45.9545.24e47.0049.12e50.03
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -1.93.7e2.32.83.7
GDP per Capita (USD) 4,305e4,198e44,4674,503
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -2.8-2.7-2.6-2.5-2.3
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 44.544.544.850.554.1
Inflation Rate (%) 3.55.6e6.15.7e5.0
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labor Force) 18.916.715.315.315.0
Current Account (billions USD) -3.40-3.71e-3.96e-3.76e-3.30
Current Account (in % of GDP) -7.4-8.2-8.4-7.7e-6.6

Source: IMF - World Economic Outlook Database , Last Available Data

Note: (e) Estimated Data

Main Sectors of Industry

Agriculture is a key sector of Tunisian economy and an improvement in its production in the past years has allowed for the development of the sector (cultivation of olive trees, fruit trees and palm trees) and also has enabled to the country to reach a level of food sufficiency. Organic farming is also booming, Tunisia being the second most productive country in this respect. Agriculture accounts for around 8% of the GDP and employs around 25% of the workforce. This performance is the consequence of large-scale support and modernization efforts made within the framework of a development policy and of agricultural and rural activities regulation.

The non-manufacturing industries account for 17% of the GDP. The manufacturing industries, mainly textile and food, make up 20% of the GDP and are damaged mostly by the Asian competition. They are predominantly orientated towards export.

The local economy is largely orientated towards services, which account for 58% of the GDP, including the booming sectors of ICT (Information and communication technologies) and tourism.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 16.2 33.5 49.6
Value Added (in % of GDP) 8.6 30.0 61.4
Value Added (Annual % Change) -4.1 0.4 4.6

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.

Monetary Indicators 20092010201120122013
Tunisian Dinar (TND) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 1.351.431.411.561.62

Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.


Learn more about Market Analyses about Tunisia on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labor freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

Mostly Unfree
World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Distribution of Economic freedom in the world
Source: 2014 Index of Economic freedom, Heritage Foundation


Business environment ranking


The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.

World Rank:

Source: The Economist - Business Environment Rankings 2014-2018


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.


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Foreign Trade in Figures

Tunisia has an open economy, foreign trade representing more than 105% of its GDP (average for 2010-2012). Until the 2011 crisis, the country was pursuing a policy of economic and opening and has signed an association agreement (summary in French) with the European Union, removing tariff and trade barriers on most goods. It also signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with the United States, which will later become a free trade agreement.

The current account of Tunisia is structurally negative and this trend should continue to worsen. The trade deficit worsened in 2013 due to the sharp increase of food and energy imports.

Tunisia's main import and export partners are the European Union, Libya, Russia and China. France remains its first supplier. Tunisia's main export goods are textile and leather, mechanical and electrical products, food products and energy products. The country imports raw and semi-finished materials, equipment goods, consumption goods (other than food) and financial and insurance services.

Foreign Trade Indicators 20092010201120122013
Imports of Goods (million USD) 19,09622,21523,95224,44424,317
Exports of Goods (million USD) 14,44516,42717,84717,00817,061
Imports of Services (million USD) 2,8123,1653,1103,0913,181
Exports of Services (million USD) 5,2415,4714,4474,9305,017
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 48.554.856.458.456.2
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 45.850.
Trade Balance (million USD) -3,636-4,512-4,747-6,031-5,836
Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD) -1,174-2,115-3,306-4,150-4,309
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 94.4104.9105.6107.5103.1

Source: WTO - World Trade Organization ; World Bank , Last Available Data


Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
France 26.4%
Italy 18.5%
Germany 9.0%
Libya 5.1%
Spain 4.7%
See More Countries 36.3%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
France 18.3%
Italy 14.5%
Germany 7.2%
China 6.3%
Algeria 4.9%
See More Countries 48.8%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data


Main Products

- bn USD of products exported in 2013
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 10.2%
Insulated incl. enamelled or anodised wire, cable...Insulated incl. enamelled or anodised wire, cable incl. coaxial cable and other insulated electric conductors, whether or not fitted with connectors; optical fibre cables, made-up of individually sheathed fibres, whether or not assembled with electric conductors or fitted with connectors 9.8%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 4.7%
Men's or boys' suits, ensembles, jackets, blazers,...Men's or boys' suits, ensembles, jackets, blazers, trousers, bib and brace overalls, breeches and shorts (excl. knitted or crocheted, wind-jackets and similar articles, separate waistcoats, track suits, ski suits and swimwear) 4.0%
Track suits, ski suits, swimwear and other...Track suits, ski suits, swimwear and other garments, n.e.s. (excl. knitted or crocheted) 3.7%
See More Products 67.5%
- bn USD of products imported in 2013
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 7.9%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbonsPetroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 5.4%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous...Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 3.9%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally...Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 3.4%
Wheat and meslinWheat and meslin 2.1%
See More Products 77.3%

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data

See More Products
More imports (Intracen Data)
More exports (Intracen Data)

Main Services

- bn USD of services exported in 2012
- bn USD of services imported in 2012

Source: Comtrade, Last Available Data

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Sources of General Economic Information

Tunisian Union of Industry, Trade and Crafts (UTICA)
Agency for Agricultural Investment Promotion
National Observatory of Agriculture
Tunisian industry investments
Statistical Office
National Statistics Institute (INS)
Central Bank
The Central Bank of Tunisia
Stock Exchange
Tunis Stock Exchange
Search Engines
Marweb Tunisie
Bab el Web
Ballouchi (in French)
Economic Portals
Portal on Tunisia news

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Political Outline

Executive Power
Article 37 of the Constitution lays down that "the executive power is exercised by the President of the Republic assisted by a government led by a Prime Minister". The President of the Republic is the Head of State. He is elected for five years by universal, free, direct and secret suffrage, and by an absolute majority of the votes cast. The President of the Republic is the guarantor of national independence, the integrity of the country, the observance of the Constitution and the laws as well as the enforcement of treaties. He sees to the regular functioning of the constitutional public authorities and ensures the continuity of the State. He benefits from jurisdictional immunity during and after the end of his period of office. The President of the Republic is the Supreme Head of the Armed Forces. He accredits diplomatic representatives to foreign powers. The President of the Republic directs the general policy of the State, defines its fundamental options and informs the Chamber of Deputies. The President of the Republic appoints the Prime Minister and, on his recommendation, the other members of the government. The President of the Republic presides over the Council of Ministers. The President of the Republic appoints civil and military high-ranking civil servants on the government's recommendation.
Legislative Power
The people exercises the legislative power through a representative assembly, called, since 1981, "Chamber of Deputies" and the Chamber of Councilors, or by referendum. The Chamber of Deputies is composed of 189 deputies elected by universal, free, direct and secret suffrage for a five-year term.
Laws are initiated conjointly by the President of the Republic and the members of the Chamber of Deputies. The bills presented by the President of the Republic have priority.
Main Political Parties
There are hundreds political parties. Almost all of them were created after the revolution. The two dominant parties:
- Nidaa Tounes: secular, modernist, concerned with security
- Ennahda: moderate Islamist
Other noteworthy parties:
- Free Patriotic Union (UPL): modernist, believes in free-market economy, rejects Islamism
- Popular Front: leftist; formed by fusion between socialist, progressive, green, and Arab nationalist parties
- Afek Tounes: secular, liberal
- Congress for the Republic (CPR): centre-left, secular
Current Political Leaders
President: Beji Caid Essebsi (since 31 December 2014): Nidaa Tounes;
Prime Minister: Habib Essid (since 14 January 2015): Nidaa Tounes
Next Election Dates
Presidential elections: Unknown
Parliamentary: Unknown

Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures the violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire sent to partner organizations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and activists of human rights, including the main criteria - 44 in total - to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:
5 places up compared to 2013

Source: Worldwide Press Freedom Index 2014, Reporters Without Borders


Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Partly Free
Political Freedom:

Map of freedom 2014
Source: Freedom House


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Last Updates: January 2015