Tunisia's food trade deficit shrinks to 284 MTD (first 9 months of 2018)
11/10/2018 19:28, TUNIS/Tunisia

(TAP)- Tunisia's food trade deficit narrowed in the first nine months of 2018 to 284 MTD in comparison with 1,107.5 MTD during the same period last year, posting a 73% drop.

This fall is mainly driven by olive oil exports, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries' figures revealed.

The food trade balance witnessed a marked improvement in the coverage of imports by exports, reaching 92.6% against 66.8 % during the same period in 2017. This is the result of the value of food exports increasing at a fater pace than imports (65.5% for exports against 19.4% for imports), the ministry said.

Food exports generated nearly 3,695.4 MTD in earnings as olive oil exports more than doubled, jumping to 176.9 thousand tonnes from 64.7 thousand tonnes, and their value edged up to 1,691.8 MTD from 605.3 MTD along with a 2% price rise.

Revenues of fresh fishery products and dates grew 33% and 38% respectively. Additionally, the value of exports of fresh vegetables and citrus fruit surged 28% and 9% (notwithstanding a 22% drop in quantity) respectively. The same pattern can be seen in exports of canned vegetables, fruits and fish (+73%).

The value of food exports, exclusive of olive oil, rose 23%. Tunisia exported about 28,000 tonnes of summer fruits worth 70 MTD, which pushed value and quantity figures higher (+40%) in comparison with the first nine months of 2017.

41% of exports are directed towards Gulf countries, 39% to Libya, 8% to France, 7% to Italy and 3% to Russia.

Meanwhile, Tunisia's food imports, standing at 3,989.4 MTD, showed an upward trend (19.4%) in comparison with the same period in 2017. The Tunisian dinar's falling currency exchange rate and the increasing value of some foodstuff imports pushed up import values, along with soaring international market prices of durum wheat (+30%), common wheat (+24%), barley (+63%) and dairy products (+56%).

The value of corn and vegetable oil purchases edged down 9% and 27%, respectively, as the volume of imports fell. Basic food products account for 67 % of total food imports compared to 74% in 2017.

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