Tunisia’s Top 10 Exports

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The northernmost African nation, the Republic of Tunisia shipped US$13.2 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2016. That dollar amount resulted from a -8.5% decline since 2009 when the Great Recession kicked in and a -6.1% drop from 2015 to 2016.

Tunisia’s top 10 exports accounted for over three-quarters (76.5%) of the overall value of its global shipments.

Based on statistics from the International Monetary Fund’s World Economic Outlook Database, Tunisia’s total Gross Domestic Product amounted to $136.8 billion as of April 2017 (on a purchasing power parity basis). Therefore, exports represent an estimated 9.7% of total Tunisian economic output.

Based on 2015 data, three-quarters (75.7%) of Tunisian exports by value were delivered to European countries while 12.2% were sold to African importers. Tunisia shipped another 4.5% worth of goods to Asia with roughly 3% going to North America.

Given Tunisia’s population of 11.1 million people, its total $13.2 billion in 2016 exports translates to roughly $1,200 for every resident in that country.

Tunisia’s unemployment rate was 15.5% as of 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 2016. 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 number one exported product is insulated wire or cable followed by men’s clothing.

  1. Electrical machinery, equipment: US$3.8 billion (28.6% of total exports)
  2. Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $2.1 billion (16.2%)
  3. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $866.9 million (6.6%)
  4. Mineral fuels including oil: $664.6 million (5%)
  5. Footwear: $560 million (4.2%)
  6. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $469.6 million (3.6%)
  7. Vehicles : $460.4 million (3.5%)
  8. Machinery including computers: $456.7 million (3.5%)
  9. Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $412.2 million (3.1%)
  10. Plastics, plastic articles: $294.6 million (2.2%)

Optical, technical, medical apparatus was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 82.3% for the 7-year period starting in 2009.

In second place for improving export sales was electrical machinery and equipment which was up by 39.1%.

Tunisian-made vehicles posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 29.9%, led by automotive parts and accessories.

The leading decliner among the top 10 Tunisian export categories was mineral fuels including oil which retreated by -66.3%.


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 is 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$1.9 billion (Up by 5.4% since 2009)
  2. Electrical machinery, equipment: $1.2 billion (Up by 212%)
  3. Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $731.6 million (Down by -1.8%)
  4. Footwear: $418.4 million (Up by 15.7%)
  5. Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $283.5 million (Down by -10.3%)
  6. Inorganic chemicals: $220.2 million (Down by -32.3%)
  7. Fruits, nuts: $195.5 million (Down by -4.2%)
  8. Fertilizers: $190.9 million (Down by -69.9%)
  9. Aircraft, spacecraft: $122.5 million (Down by -254.7%)
  10. Leather/animal gut articles: $114.3 million (Up by 168.1%)

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


Overall, Tunisia incurred a -$3.6 billion trade deficit for 2016 down by -23% from -$4.7 billion during 2009.

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. Machinery including computers: -US$1.4 billion (Down by -36.5% since 2009)
  2. Vehicles : -$886.7 million (Down by -18.9%)
  3. Plastics, plastic articles: -$781.4 million (Up by 31.1%)
  4. Mineral fuels including oil: -$554.7 million (Up by 165.1%)
  5. Cereals: -$467.5 million (Down by -0.04%)
  6. Pharmaceuticals: -$406.6 million (Up by 2.5%)
  7. Iron, steel: -$383.6 million (Down by -15.3%)
  8. Cotton: -$381.3 million (Down by -52.8%)
  9. Knit or crochet fabric: -$299 million (Up by 241.9%)
  10. Copper: -$255.7 million (Up by 9.1%)

Tunisia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the machinery including computers category.


Tunisian Export Companies

Not one Tunisian corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000 for 2016.

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.

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 May 1, 2017

The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on May 1, 2017

Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on May 1, 2017

Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on May 1, 2017

Wikipedia, List of Companies of Tunisia. Accessed on May 1, 2017

Forbes 2016 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on May 1, 2017