Tunis/Tunisia — The trade balance deficit in Tunisia continues to widen at current prices, to 6,336.9 million dinars (MD) in April 2019, against 5,085.4 MD in the first 4 months of 2018, according to the National Institute of Statistics (INS).
The coverage rate fell by 1.4 points compared to 2018, standing at 71.3%, according to the results of Tunisia's foreign trade at current prices (excluding the inflation impact), during the last quarter of 2019.
The worsening of the deficit is due to an increase in imports by 18.7%, to 22,113.1 MD, much higher than that of exports (+ 16.5% to 15,776.3 MD).
Despite the deceleration in the pace of imports compared to the same period in 2018 (+ 21.3%), the INS statistics show that the Tunisian imports continue to increase at a faster pace than exports.
The rise in imports is due to the increase recorded in all the sectors (mining, phosphates and derivatives, energy products, agricultural and basic food products, equipment and raw materials).
For instance, Tunisia imported in 2019, 51.9% from the European Union 51.9% of the total Tunisian imports, even more than in 2018. These imports from the EU edged up 10.6% this year (4 months), reaching 11,468.1 MD.
The growth of exports at current prices is less than half the rates of that registered in the same period in 2018 (+ 32.8% to 13,542.6 MD). Tunisia exported products of mining, phosphates and derivatives, energy, mechanical and electrical industries, textile-clothing and leather and other manufacturing industries. However, the agriculture and agro-food sectors dropped by 10.2%, due to the decline in the olive oil sales.
According to the INS, the trade balance is in deficit because of the deficit recorded with certain countries, namely China (-2,011.7 MD), Algeria (-1,161.9 MD), Italy (-1,089.8 MD), Turkey (-603.9 MD) and Russia (-553.3 MD).
Except for energy, the trade balance deficit is reduced to 3,902 MD. The energy balance deficit stands at 2,434.8 MD (38.4% of the total deficit) against 1,687.2 MD during the same period in 2018.