Tunisia Economy

Tunisia Economy


Tunisia inherited a modern production structure from the French colonial period. After having adhered in the years immediately following independence (1956) to a clearly socialist orientation of economic development, starting from 1970 the country made an almost total change in its programmatic choices. By appealing widely to foreign capital, the government focused its utmost efforts on encouraging industry, building large public utility infrastructures and enhancing tourism. The result of these policies was a relative economic dynamism which, however, was not able to overcome the strong imbalances between production and internal consumption and was unable to prevent imports from exceeding exports. The eighties, the oil crisis and the Libyan-Tunisian crisis, revealed the fragility of this economic system. Thus began a new phase that had its first results in the nineties of the twentieth century; in 1995 the labor code was reformed, EU a free trade treaty. The positive results were not lacking: the area of ​​well-being expanded and the general standard of living was certainly improved. Among the Maghreb countries, Tunisia is the one that recorded the highest annual growth rate of the economy in the year 2000: the country recorded in 2018 a GDP of US $ 39,911 million and a per capita GDP of US $ 3,423. However, the repeated outbursts of discontent offer a different interpretation of the flattering economic results achieved. Growth was in fact anything but balanced, both as regards the distribution of income (unemployment remains one of the most serious scourges in the country), and for the productive sectors and areas of development.


Also thanks to some recent and important reforms, the primary sector is constantly developing. Cereals are the staple food of the population; wheat prevails, which for climatic reasons is confined to the plains of the north, and barley, which is also widespread in the semi-stony areas of Al Jifārah. Horticultural products (especially tomatoes) and fruit products (peaches, apricots, plums, apples, pears, almonds and mainly citrus fruits) have a moderate development: partly consumed locally they are also exported, as, maturing in advance thanks to the climate, they reach European markets like first fruits. Dates are also very popular abroad. More important, however, are the cultivation of olives and vines. Viticulture, a colonial creation, mainly has an oenological orientation; much more widespread is, as mentioned, olive growing, practiced with increasingly modern and rational cultivation techniques, which allow Tunisia to be the only large producer of olive oil on the African continent, as well as one of the largest in the world. Finally, tobacco, sugar beet and potato crops are more modest. § The forest areas are extremely small, amounting to approx. 3% of the national surface and in practice limited to the northern mountainous areas (in 2005, just over 2 million m 3 of wood were obtained annually); the cork, coming from the northern mountains, while alpha is widely collected in the steppe areas, used for papermaking and largely exported. § The country also has a large number of livestock: in the north, more humid and therefore with richer pastures, cattle are concentrated, also favored by a certain diffusion of forage crops; on the other hand, in the central-southern steppes, breeding is still purely semi-nomadic and mainly concerns sheep and goats, which also provide a fair amount of wool. Consistent is the number of poultry and camels, used together with donkeys and mules in the South and in rural areas. § A sector in constant development is that of fishing, also helped by various measures aimed in particular at the expansion of the fleet, port infrastructures and refrigeration systems. Tuna and sardines prevail; the annual catch feeds the canning industries of Mahdia and Gabès; sponge fishing is still carried out in the Gulf of Gabès.


According to allcountrylist, approximately 50% of the industries are concentrated in the capital. The Tunisian industry is mainly based on the transformation of local agricultural and mining products. The basic industries mainly include an oil refinery in Bizerte (Bizerte), some steel and metallurgical complexes located near Tunis and in the new pole of Menzel-Burghiba, chemical plants (processing of phosphates, production of sulfuric acid, fertilizers, etc.), cement factories and mechanical plants. More numerous and variously located are the establishments that process agricultural and livestock products, such as oil mills, mill complexes, breweries, sugar refineries, canning industries, tobacco factories, textile factories, etc. Remarkable is still the handicraft activity, especially for the production of carpets and silver objects. lead, zinc, silver minerals, mercury and above all petroleum. The latter, extracted for the first time in 1964 from the wells of El-Borma in the south of the country, is today an important export commodity, even if during the eighties many fields have run out (in addition to that of El-Borma, the most important deposits are those of Douleb and Tamesmida). Tunisia is among the world’s leading phosphate producers. There are also significant natural gas fields, located mainly around the Gulf of Gabès. The extraction of iron minerals is discreet; rock salt and salmarino (from the salt pans by Mégrine, Soliman, Ras Dimas, Mahdia etc.). Oil contributes to a large extent to power power plants, which are mainly thermal.

Tunisia Economy

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