Tunisian Economy
Economy - overview: Tunisia's diverse, market-oriented economy has long been cited as a success story in Africa and the Middle East, but it faces an array of challenges following the 2011 revolution. Following an ill-fated experiment with socialist economic policies in the 1960s, Tunisia embarked on a successful strategy focused on bolstering exports, foreign investment, and tourism, all of which have become central to the country's economy. Key exports now include textiles and apparel, food products, petroleum products, chemicals, and phosphates, with about 80% of exports bound for Tunisia's main economic partner, the European Union. Tunisia's liberal strategy, coupled with investments in education and infrastructure, fueled decades of 4-5% annual GDP growth and improving living standards. Former President (1987-2011) Zine el Abidine BEN ALI continued these policies, but as his reign wore on cronyism and corruption stymied economic performance and unemployment rose among the country's growing ranks of university graduates. These grievances contributed to the January 2011 overthrow of BEN ALI, sending Tunisia's economy into a tailspin as tourism and investment declined sharply. During 2012 and 2013, security and political upheaval during transition led to a deterioration of the economy and resulted in several downgrades of Tunisia’s credit rating. Tunisia's government faces challenges reassuring businesses and investors, bringing budget and current account deficits under control, shoring up the country's financial system, bringing down high unemployment, and reducing economic disparities between the more developed coastal region and the impoverished interior.
GDP (purchasing power parity): $124.3 billion (2014 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate): $48.55 billion (2014 est.)
GDP - real growth rate: 2.3% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP): $11,300 (2014 est.)
GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 8.7%
industry: 29%
services: 62.3% (2014 est.)
Labor force: 3.95 million (2014 est.)
Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 14.8%
industry: 33.2%
services: 51.7% (2014 est.)
Unemployment rate: 15.3% (2014 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: 2.3%
highest 10%: 31.5% (2000)
Investment (gross fixed): 22.5% of GDP (2009 est.)
Budget: revenues: $12.43 billion
expenditures: $15.53 billion (2014 est.)
Public debt: 49.9% of GDP (2014 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices): 4.9% (2014 est.)
Central bank discount rate: 5.75% (31 December 2010)
Commercial bank prime lending rate: 7.31% (31 December 2014 est.)
Agriculture - products: olives, olive oil, grain, tomatoes, citrus fruit, sugar beets, dates, almonds; beef, dairy products
Industries: petroleum, mining (particularly phosphate and iron ore), tourism, textiles, footwear, agribusiness, beverages
Industrial production growth rate: 1% (2014 est.)
Electricity - production: 15.23 billion kWh (2011 est.)
Electricity - consumption: 12.94 billion kWh (2011 est.)
Electricity - exports: 172 million kWh (2012 est.)
Electricity - imports: 175 million kWh (2012 est.)
Oil - production: 64,150 bbl/day (2013 est.)
Oil - consumption: 90,000 bbl/day (2008 est.)
Oil - exports: 77,980 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Oil - imports: 3,680 bbl/day (2010 est.)
Oil - proved reserves: 425 million bbl (1 January 2014 est.)
Natural gas - production: 1.863 billion cu m (2012 est.)
Natural gas - consumption: 3.683 billion cu m (2012 est.)
Natural gas - exports: 0 cu m (2012 est.)
Natural gas - imports: 1.819 billion cu m (2012 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves: 65.13 billion cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
Current account balance: -$4.332 billion (2014 est.)
Exports: $16.61 billion (2014 est.)
Exports - commodities: clothing, semi-finished goods and textiles, agricultural products, mechanical goods, phosphates and chemicals, hydrocarbons, electrical equipment
Exports - partners: France 29.7%, Italy 17.1%, Germany 11.5%, Libya 5.4% (2014)
Imports: $23.4 billion (2014 est.)
Imports - commodities: textiles, machinery and equipment, hydrocarbons, chemicals, foodstuffs
Imports - partners: France 19.9%, Italy 19.5%, Germany 7.6%, China 5.5%, Spain 5.4%, Turkey 4.1% (2014)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $7.198 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Debt - external: $29.56 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home: $35.47 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad: $310 million (31 December 2014 est.)
Exchange rates: Tunisian dinars (TND) per US dollar - 1.704 (2014 est.), 1.6247 (2013 est.), 1.56 (2012 est.), 1.4078 (2011 est.), 1.4314 (2010 est.)
economic climate  
Background: Tunisia has important phosphate reserves but limited reserves of natural gas, oil, and minerals such as iron ore, zinc and lead.
Export opportunities:  
Update: This page was last updated on 10 November 2015
Sources: CIA, The World Factbook, https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ae.html
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DIBNC Experts Team