Tunis/Tunisia — The trade deficit fell by 1492.9 MD to stand at 4844.5 MD, at the end of April 2020, against 6336.9 MD, during the same period of 2019, according to data from the National Institute of Statistics (INS), published Wednesday.
According to the INS, Tunisia's trade with the outside world at current prices fell by 20.6% in exports against a 16.5% increase during the four months of 2019 and by 21.5% in imports against an 18.7% increase during the same period last year
Exports reached the level of 12521.2 MD, against 15776.3 MD, during the same period of the year 2019. In value, imports reached 17365.7 MD, against 22113.1 MD, during the same period of the year 2019.
The coverage rate gained 0.8 points compared to the same period of the year 2019 to reach 72.1% (against 71.3% one year earlier).
// A sharp contraction in trade in April due to lockdown measures
In April 2020, exports fell sharply by 48.9% year-on-year (-29.5% in March), the sharpest contraction in recent economic history. Exports reached the level of 2006.3MD, against 3929.9MD in April 2019.
According to the INS, this decrease mainly affected the off-shore sectors, namely the textile, clothing and leather sector and the mechanical and electrical industries sector whose explorations fell by 3.5% and 62.1% respectively, while the agriculture and agro-food industries sector recorded a 10.6% drop.
On the other hand, exports of the energy sector recorded a strong increase (+152.4%) explained in part by the regularisation of late customs declarations relating to March (about 34% of the value) and those of the mining, phosphates and derivatives sector which increased by only 2.5%.
The breakdown by country shows remarkable decreases in sales to our main European partners, mainly France (-64%), Germany (-61%) and Italy (-47%). The same trend is observed towards certain Arab countries such as Algeria (-79%), Libya (-67%) and Morocco (-62%).
As for imports, they also recorded an exceptional drop of 46.8%, compared to the same month of the year 2019 (-27.4% in March), to reach 3345.2MD, against 6293.5MD, in April 2019. This decline is mainly due to the sharp contraction observed in energy (-67.8%), capital goods (-53.4%), raw materials and semi-finished products (-42.3%), consumer goods (-48.9%) as well as mining and phosphate products (-37%), explains the INS.
// Foreign trade according to the regime
The breakdown of trade by regime shows that exports under the offshore regime recorded a fall of 27.6%, against +18.7% during the four months of 2019. Imports under this regime recorded a decrease of 23.3% against +14.8% during the same period in 2019.
Under the general regime, exports recorded a decrease of 1.4%, against +10.8%, during the four months of the year 2019. Similarly, imports fell by 20.6%, against +20.7%, during the same period in 2019, underlines the INS. The decrease observed at the level of exports (-20.6%) during the four months of the year 2020 concerns several sectors.
Indeed, the textile/clothing and leather sector recorded a contraction of -33.6%, that of mechanical and electrical industries of -25% and that of mines, phosphates and derivatives of -5.9%.
On the other hand, the sector of agriculture and food-processing industries recorded an increase of +4.8%, following the increase in our sales of olive oils (890.5MD against 579.1MD) and our sales of the energy sector which improved by 9.7%.
Regarding the 21.5% drop in imports, the INS explained that it is mainly due to the drop recorded in imports of capital goods by -28.7%, raw materials and semi-finished products by -20.9%, consumer goods by -21.6% and energy by -18.9% under the effect of the decrease in our purchases of refined products (1569.2 MD, against 1990.5 MD) and natural gas (738.3 MD, against 1364.6 MD).
Tunisian exports to the European Union (72% of total exports) decreased by 22.9%, the INS said. This evolution is explained, on the one hand, by the decline of our exports to some European partners, such as France by 36.4%, Germany by 27.1% and Italy by 17.2%. On the other hand, our sales remain on the rise towards other countries, notably Spain by 40.7% and Greece by 8.1%. With the Arab countries, exports decreased with Egypt by 36.6%, Morocco by 24.4%, Libya by 2.0% and Morocco by 2.0%.