Tunisia’s Top 10 Exports

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The northernmost African nation, the Republic of Tunisia shipped US$14 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2017. That dollar amount resulted from a -17.8% decline since 2013 but a 3.3% uptick from 2016 to 2017.

Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Tunisia’s exported goods plus services represent 44.7% of total Tunisian economic output or Gross Domestic Product. Please note that the overall value of exported goods and services includes a sizable share of re-exports. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.

Calculations from 2016 data show that about three-quarters (77%) of Tunisian exports by value were delivered to European countries while 13% were sold to African importers. Tunisia shipped another 6% worth of goods to Asia with roughly 4% going to North America.

Given Tunisia’s population of 11.4 million people, its total $14 billion in 2017 exports translates to roughly $1,230 for every resident in that country.

Tunisia’s unemployment rate was 15.4% as of March 2018 compared to 15.5% in December 2016, according to Trading Economics.

Tunisia’s Top 10 Exports

Top 10

The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Tunisian global shipments during 2017. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Tunisia.

At the more detailed Harmonized Tariff System code level, Tunisia’s most valuable exported product is insulated wire or cable. In second place was men’s and women’s clothing trailed by crude oil, automotive parts or accessories, lower-voltage switches or fuses, olive oil, footwear then mobile phones.

  1. Electrical machinery, equipment: US$4 billion (28.4% of total exports)
  2. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $2.2 billion (15.5%)
  3. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $893.3 million (6.4%)
  4. Mineral fuels including oil: $691.8 million (4.9%)
  5. Footwear: $608.3 million (4.3%)
  6. Machinery including computers: $542.4 million (3.9%)
  7. Vehicles: $524.5 million (3.7%)
  8. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $471.2 million (3.4%)
  9. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $413.3 million (2.9%)
  10. Plastics, plastic articles: $382.9 million (2.7%)

By value, Tunisia’s top 10 exports accounted for over three-quarters (76.2%) of the overall value of its global shipments.

Footwear was the fastest-growing among Tunisia’s top 10 export categories, up by 60.9% from 2016 to 2017.

Close behind in second place for improving export sales was the knitted or crocheted clothing and accessories category which rose by 59.5%.

Tunisia-made optical, technical and medical apparatus posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 10.7%.

The leading decliner among the top 10 Tunisian export categories was animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes which retreated -19.2% year over year.

Advantages

The following types of Tunisian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.

In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.

  1. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): US$2 billion (Up by 56.8% since 2016)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: $1.3 billion (Up by 30.1%)
  3. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $776.5 million (Up by 71.1%)
  4. Footwear: $458.1 million (Up by 93.3%)
  5. Fruits, nuts: $242.5 million (Up by 3.2%)
  6. Inorganic chemicals: $230.8 million (Down by -13.1%)
  7. Fertilizers: $183.1 million (Down by -32.5%)
  8. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $150.3 million (Down by -50%)
  9. Fish: $127.4 million (Up by 86%)
  10. Leather/animal gut articles: $119.4 million (Up by 121.1%)

Tunisia has highly positive net exports in the international apparel trade. In turn, these cashflows indicate Tunisia’s strong competitive advantages under the clothing and accessories product categories whether or not knit or crocheted.

Opportunities

Overall, Tunisia incurred a -$5.2 billion trade deficit for 2017 down by -12.5% from -$5.9 billion during 2016.

Below are exports from Tunisia that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Tunisia’s goods trail Tunisian importer spending on foreign products.

  1. Mineral fuels including oil: -US$2 billion (Up by 47.2% since 2016)
  2. Machinery including computers: -$1.2 billion (Down by -15.6%)
  3. Vehicles: -$795 million (Down by -28.1%)
  4. Plastics, plastic articles: -$748.9 million (Down by -1%)
  5. Cereals: -$663.6 million (Down by -18.7%)
  6. Iron, steel: -$566.1 million (Up by 29.1%)
  7. Pharmaceuticals: -$409.1 million (Down by -0.9%)
  8. Cotton: -$398.9 million (Down by -28.7%)
  9. Knit or crochet fabric: -$309.4 million (Up by 158.8%)
  10. Copper: -$303.3 million (Up by 17.4%)

Tunisia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels including oil category particularly refined petroleum oils and petroleum gases.

Companies

Tunisian Export Companies

Not one Tunisian corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000.

Wikipedia lists exports-related companies from Tunisia. Selected examples are shown below:

  • Evertek (telecommunications)
  • Groupe Mabrouk (food, beverages)
  • Industries Mécaniques Maghrébines (automobiles)
  • Vermeg (technology & software)
  • Wallyscar (car manufacturer)

Tunisia’s capital city is Tunis, a port located on the Mediterranean Sea.

Please note that the results listed above are at the 2-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level.

See also South Africa’s Top 10 Exports, Top African Export Countries and Capital Facts for Tunis, Tunisia

Research Sources:
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on June 4, 2018

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on June 4, 2018

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on June 4, 2018

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on June 4, 2018

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Tunisia. Accessed on June 4, 2018

Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on June 4, 2018