Tunis – Mongi Saidani
Tunisia’s National Institute of Statistics has revealed an economic slowdown in the first three months of 2020.
Tunisia’s foreign trade reached 10,514 million dinars ($3.6 million) in exports and 14,020 million dinars ($4.8 million) in imports during the first quarter, posting a drop of 11.2 percent for exports and 11.4 percent for imports, compared to the same period in 2019, it said.
The decline in the volume of exports had an impact on most sectors, except for mining, phosphates and derivatives, which witnessed a 20.5 percent growth.
There was a drop in exports volume in the energy and lubricants sector (-22.2 percent), the textiles/clothing and leather sector (-19.4 percent) and the mechanical and electrical industries sector (-14.9 percent).
As for the volume of imports, it witnessed a drop in all sectors, particularly the mechanical and electrical industries (-20.7 percent), as well as the textile, clothing and leather sector (-17.2 percent).
Economic and financial experts, including Hakim Ben Hammouda, the former minister of economy, have expressed concerns that the economic slowdown would affect expected growth in the second half of 2020.
Ben Hammouda expected an increase in unemployment, saying at least 158,000 could be out of jobs in the coming months, joining 630,000 people in search for work.
The International Monetary Fund said last week that Tunisia has been hit hard by the virus, and the economy is expected to contract by 4.3 percent this year.
It would be the deepest recession since Tunisia’s independence in 1956.