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Economy of Tunisia


Tunisia has a diverse economy, ranging from agriculture, mining, manufacturing and petroleum products, to tourism. In 2008 it had a GDP of $41 billion (official exchange rates), or $82 billion (purchasing power parity). It also has one of Africa and the Middle East's highest per-capita GDPs (PPP). The agricultural sector stands for 11.6% of the GDP, industry 25.7%, and services 62.8%. The industrial sector is mainly made up of clothing and footwear manufacturing, production of car parts and electric machinery. Although Tunisia managed an average 5% growth over the last decade it continues to suffer from a high unemployment especially among youth.

Tunisia was in 2009 ranked the most competitive economy in Africa and the 40th in the world by the World Economic Forum. Tunisia has managed to attract many international companies such as Airbus and Hewlett-Packard. Tourism accounted for 7% of GDP and 370,000 jobs in 2009.

The European Union remains Tunisia's first trading partner, currently accounting for 72.5% of Tunisian imports and 75% of Tunisian exports. Tunisia is a one of the EU's most established trading partners in the Mediterranean region and ranks as the EU’s 30th largest trading partner. Tunisia was the first Mediterranean country to sign an Association Agreement with the EU, in July 1995, although even before the date of entry came into force, Tunisia started dismantling tariffs on bilateral EU trade. Tunisia finalised the tariffs dismantling for industrial products in 2008 and therefore was the first Mediterranean country to enter in a free trade area with EU. Tunisia also attracted large Persian Gulf investments, especially from the United Arab Emirates.


Economy - overview
Tunisia has a diverse, market-oriented economy, with important agricultural, mining, tourism and manufacturing sectors but faces an array of challenges. Following an ill-fated experiment with socialist economic policies in the 1960s, Tunisia successfully focused on bolstering exports, foreign investment and tourism. Key exports now include textiles and apparel, food products, petroleum products, chemicals and phosphates, with about 80% going to the European Union. Tunisia achieved four decades of 4-5% annual GDP growth. As the presidency wore on, cronyism and corruption under former President Zine el Abidine BEN ALI (1987-2011) stymied economic performance and unemployment rose among the university's graduates. In January 2011 BEN ALI was overthrown, sending Tunisia's economy into a tailspin. The country's newly elected government faces immediate challenges stabilizing the economy. It must reassure businesses and investors, bring budget and current account deficits under control, shore up the country's financial system, bring down high unemployment and reduce economic disparities between the more developed coastal region and impoverished interior.

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$102.3 billion (2011 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate)
$46.36 billion (2011 est.)

GDP - real growth rate
-0.8% (2011 est.)

GDP - per capita (PPP)
$9,600 (2011 est.)

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