Tunisia flag Tunisia: Economic and Political Overview

The economic context of Tunisia

Economic Indicators

Tunisia was deeply impacted by the Jasmine Revolution of 2011 that ousted President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, and the country has never recovered economically. The situation was exacerbated by the health crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic and by the political crises that the country has been experiencing in recent years. According to IMF estimates, economic growth stood at 1.3% in 2023 (from 2.5% one year earlier), due to the significant decline in rain-fed wheat production caused by insufficient rainfall. In 2024, growth will continue to face limitations due to elevated sovereign risk affecting the business environment and investor confidence, along with high inflation. Additionally, the expanding crowding-out effect on the private sector from the government's substantial financing requirements will contribute to these constraints. For the year as a whole, the IMF forecasts growth at 1.9%, with an acceleration to 2.3% in 2025.

Tunisia received financial assistance from several international organizations, such as the African Development Bank, the IMF, and the European Union (which disbursed EUR 600 million in loans under the Macro-Financial Assistance emergency support programme). The country also reached a staff-level agreement on a 4-year USD 1.9 billion Extended Fund Facility (EFF) programme with the IMF. The 2023 budget has been amended by the government, resulting in a revised projected deficit of 6.8% of GDP (including grants), up from the initial target of 5%, following a 7.3% deficit in 2022. The increased deficit primarily stems from greater subsidies and transfers to state-owned enterprises and a higher debt cost compared to the initial budget. Over the forecast horizon, the deficit is expected to gradually decrease (4% this year and 3.2% in 2025 – IMF). Meanwhile, the debt-to-GDP ratio decreased to 77.8% (from 79.8% one year earlier) and is expected to increase marginally in 2024, to 77.1% as per the IMF forecast. However, the majority of the high external debt is public or public-guaranteed, which may cause doubts about the country’s ability to service its debt. Inflationary pressures increased significantly and should remain high in the short term (9.4% in 2023 and 9.8% in 2024 as per the IMF). Among the policies necessary to restore macroeconomic stability the IMF points to a conscientious reduction of the fiscal deficit through equitable taxation reform, strict control over the public sector wage bill, better-targeted subsidies, and deep reforms of state-owned enterprises.

Tunisia is afflicted by increasing economic disparities that favour its coastal regions, which account for more than 80% of urban areas and 90% of overall employment. The highest poverty rates are concentrated in rural areas, especially those in the northwest and southwest of the country (often exceeding 33%). Contrarily, the greater Tunis area shows the lowest values (Carnegie). According to the latest figures from the National Statistics Institute (INS), as of Q2/2023, the unemployment rate stood at 15.6%; nevertheless, youth unemployment – at 38.1% - was particularly high. By gender, the unemployment rate remains significantly higher for women (21.1%) than for men (13.2%).

Main Indicators 20222023 (E)2024 (E)2025 (E)2026 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 46.2751.2854.7155.8558.07
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)
GDP per Capita (USD) 3,8144,1924,4354,4924,637
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -7.2-6.5-5.4-4.9-4.8
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 79.976.678.679.579.9
Inflation Rate (%)
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force)
Current Account (billions USD) -3.98-1.31-1.90-2.09-2.58
Current Account (in % of GDP) -8.6-2.5-3.5-3.7-4.4

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, October 2021

Main Sectors of Industry

Agriculture is a key sector of the Tunisian economy, accounting for 9.8% of GDP and employing 14% of the workforce (World Bank, latest data available). The country has 9.7 million ha of agricultural land, equivalent to 62% of its total land area (FAO). An improvement in production methods in recent years has allowed the sector to develop and modernise (cultivation of olive trees, fruit trees and palm trees) while enabling the country to reach a level of food sufficiency. Organic farming is also booming, with Tunisia being one of the most productive countries in Africa. Olive oil accounts for the largest share of agricultural exports, followed by dates, olives and fresh fruits. According to the latest figures from the National Observatory for Agriculture, Tunisian food exports experienced a remarkable increase of 21.3% in 2023, while imports saw a decrease of 6.2%. This was primarily attributed to the rise in olive oil exports (+52.4%) and the decline in imports of cereals (-11.2%) and vegetable oils (-40%).

Industry represents 23.3% of the GDP and employs 34% of the active population. The country's industrial sectors are predominantly export-oriented. Among the sectors in decline, are the leather and shoe industry, paper, cardboard, plastic, and wood. The chemicals, textiles and clothing sectors have been growing in recent years; however, the economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic impacted especially the textile and clothing sector and the mechanical and electrical engineering sub-sectors, which are still recovering. Overall, the manufacturing sector is estimated to account for 15% of GDP (World Bank) and is strongly connected to European production chains. According to the latest figures from the National Statistical Institute, the manufacturing production index stood at 105.3 in 2022 (2010=100).

The local economy is largely orientated towards services, which account for 60.3% of the GDP, including the booming sectors of ICT (information and communication technologies) and tourism. Professional training and research are both rising sectors. The services sector as a whole employs 52% of the country's workforce. The tourism industry is also important to the country’s economy: after suffering from the international restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic, it showed signs of recovery in 2022, and in 2023 the country welcomed 8.8 million visitors, marking a 49.3% increase in one year and above the level recorded before the Covid pandemic. As of December 10, 2023, tourism revenue reached TND 6.7 billion (approximately eur 2 billion).

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 13.9 34.2 51.9
Value Added (in % of GDP) 10.1 23.0 60.3
Value Added (Annual % Change) 2.0 -0.4 3.9

Source: World Bank, Latest Available Data. Because of rounding, the sum of the percentages may be smaller/greater than 100%.


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Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.}}

World Rank:
Regional Rank:

Economic freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Index of Economic Freedom, Heritage Foundation


Business environment ranking


The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.

World Rank:

Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit - Business Environment Rankings 2020-2024


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.

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Sources of General Economic Information

Ministry of Trade
Statistical Office
National Statistics Institute (INS)
Central Bank
Central Bank of Tunisia
Stock Exchange
Tunis Stock Exchange
Economic Portals
Tunisia news

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Latest Update: July 2024