Tunis/Tunisia — The North African economy maintained a moderate growth rate of 3.15% in 2018 compared to 3.19% in 2017, said economist at the Economic Commission for North Africa (ECA) office Aziz Jaid.
Presenting, on Wednesday, the results of a report on the evolution of economic and social conditions in North Africa, he explained that this growth is mainly driven by Egypt's growth (5.3% against 4.2%).
Tunisia and Mauritania improved their growth to 2.5% and 3.6% respectively, while Algeria saw its growth virtually stagnate to reach 1.5% against 1.4% in 2017.
According to the economist, Morocco's growth fell from 4.3% in 2017 to 3% in 2018 and Sudan's is in recession with a rate of (-2.3%).
The analysis by country showed that Tunisia's economic growth in 2018 (2.5%) was mainly driven by the primary sector (agriculture and fisheries), which edged up by 9.5%, thanks to favourable climatic and rainfall conditions.
Similarly, the service sector, with a growth of 3.3% in 2018 compared to 4.5% in 2017, performed relatively well thanks to hotel and restaurant services.
The manufacturing industrial activity is almost stagnant with 0.5% in 2017 and 0.3% in 2018, as is the construction sector (0.8%).
According to the report, public finances continue to be under pressure in 2018 with a consolidated budget deficit of 7.63% of sub-regional GDP caused mainly by the deficits of the two main economies Egypt and Algeria.
Intra-North African trade up by 33%
It appears from the same report that intra-North African trade rebounded by more than 33% in 2018 compared to 2017, from 5.63 billion dollars to 7.50 billion dollars.
The country analysis revealed that Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt dominate the North African domestic market with almost 73% market share.
The individual shares are respectively 17% for Tunisia and 28% for Algeria and Egypt.
The increase in intra-North African trade improved the sub-region's trade integration ratio to 5.44% in 2018 from 5% in 2017.
The results of the report were presented at the 34th edition of the Intergovernmental Committee of High Officials and Experts (ICSOE) for North Africa, on the theme:"The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and Employment: The Impact of an Improved Trade Facilitation and Regional Integration for North Africa," organised on November 25-28 in Aswan, Egypt, at the initiative of the ECA Office for North Africa in partnership with the Ministry of Planning, Monitoring and Administrative Reform of Egypt.