That dollar amount reflects a 15.7% increase over the five-year period starting in 2017 Tunisian exports totaled $14.2 billion.
Year over year, the overall value of exports from Tunisia advanced by 18.8% compared to $13.8 billion during 2020.
Tunisia biggest top 5 most valuable exports are insulated wire or cable, crude oil, olive oil, unknitted and non-crocheted men’s tracksuits and swimwear, then unknitted and non-crocheted men’s suits or trousers. Collectively, that subset of 5 most valuable commodities represent over one quarter (27.9%) of the total value for all Tunisian exported goods during 2021.
Major Tunisian Trading Partners
The latest available country-specific data shows that just over three-quarters (76.1%) of products exported from Tunisia were bought by importers in: France (24.1% of Tunisia’s global total), Italy (18.4%), Germany (12.7%), Spain (4.1%), Libya (3.9%), Netherlands (2.6%), United States of America (2.3%), Belgium (1.9%), United Kingdom (1.6%), Morocco (1.5%), Algeria (1.42%) and Turkey (1.4%).
From a continental perspective, 78.6% of Tunisia’s exports by value were delivered to European countries while 11% were sold to importers also in Africa. Tunisia shipped another 6.6% worth of goods to Asia.
Smaller percentages went to North America (3.2%), Latin America (0.5%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, then Oceania (0.2%) led by Australia and New Zealand.
Given Tunisia’s population of 11.9 million people, its total $14 billion in 2021 exports translates to roughly $1,200 for every resident in the northern African country.
Tunisia’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Tunisian global shipments during 2021. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Tunisia.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US$4.4 billion (26.7% of total exports)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): $1.7 billion (10.2%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $1 billion (6.3%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $720.3 million (4.4%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $694.7 million (4.2%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $611.7 million (3.7%)
- Machinery including computers: $581.8 million (3.5%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $524.8 million (3.2%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $505.1 million (3.1%)
- Vehicles: $468.8 million (2.9%)
Tunisia’s top 10 exports accounted for 68.2% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Inorganic chemicals represent the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 60.1% from 2020 to 2021.
In second place for improving export sales was mineral fuels including oil via a 32.8% advance led by crude oil and petroleum gases.
Tunisia’s shipments of plastics both as materials and items made from plastic posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 22%.
The lone decliner among Tunisia’s top 10 export categories was animal or vegetable fats, oils and waxes, thanks to a -20.4% year-over-year reduction.
At the more granular four-digit Harmonized Tariff System code level, insulated wire or cable represents Tunisia’s most valuable exported product worth 13.3% of the country’s total. In second place was crude oil (4.5%) trailed by olive oil (3.62%), unknitted and non-crocheted men’s tracksuits and swimwear (3.57%), unknitted and non-crocheted men’s suits and trousers (2.9%), lower-voltage switches and fuses (2.7%), automobile parts or accessories (2.2%), miscellaneous items made from plastic (1.9%), aircraft parts (1.8%), then phosphoric or polyphosphoric acids (1.7%).
Products Generating Tunisia’s Best Trade Surpluses
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.
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): US$1.4 billion (Up by 14.4% since 2020)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $1.4 billion (Up by 57.8%)
- Animal/vegetable fats, oils, waxes: $494 million (Down by -31.2%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: $407.8 million (Up by 7.6%)
- Inorganic chemicals: $328.2 million (Up by 64.4%)
- Fertilizers: $317.2 million (Up by 135.6%)
- Footwear: $284.3 million (Up by 24.2%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $267.3 million (Up by 22.7%)
- Fruits, nuts: $234.2 million (Up by 0.4%)
- Miscellaneous textiles, worn clothing: $232 million (Down by -1.5%)
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.
Products Causing Tunisia’s Worst Trade Deficits
Tunisia incurred an overall -$5.4 billion trade deficit for 2021, expanding by 17.4% from -$4.6 billion in red ink one year earlier in 2020.
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.
- Mineral fuels including oil: -US$2.1 billion (Up by 32.3% since 2020)
- Cereals: -$1.2 billion (Up by 17.1%)
- Vehicles: -$885.8 million (Up by 48.8%)
- Machinery including computers: -$859.7 million (Down by -11.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$819.5 million (Up by 20.5%)
- Iron, steel: -$599.6 million (Up by 41.9%)
- Cotton: -$585.7 million (Up by 20.6%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$505.1 million (Up by 7.7%)
- Copper: -$392.6 million (Up by 66.3%)
- Oil seeds: -$324.4 million (Up by 12.9%)
Tunisia has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the mineral fuels including oil category–particularly red ink for refined petroleum oils and petroleum gases.
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)
In macroeconomic terms, Tunisia’s total exported goods represent 12% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2021 ($137.3 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 12% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2021 compares to 11% for 2020. Those percentages suggest a relatively increasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Tunisia’s total economic performance, albeit based on a short timeframe.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Tunisia’s average unemployment rate was 16.2% as of January 2021, down from 17.4% one year earlier according to Trading Economics.
Tunisia’s capital city is Tunis, a port located on the Mediterranean Sea.
See also South Africa’s Top 10 Exports, Top African Export Countries, Nigeria’s Top 10 Exports, Algeria’s Top 10 Exports and Morocco’s Top 10 Exports
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on August 15, 2022
Forbes 2017 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on August 15, 2022
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity)
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on August 15, 2022
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on August 15, 2022
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on August 15, 2022
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Tunisia. Accessed on August 15, 2022
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on August 15, 2022