Tunisia’s trade deficit dropped by 6.6 billion dinars ($2.7 billion) in 2020 to $4.7 billion as imports declined because of the coronavirus pandemic, the state statistics institute said on Tuesday.
The deficit decreased from 19.43 billion dinars ($7.2 billion) in 2019 to 12.75 billion dinars ($4.7 billion) in 2020. Imports fell by 18.7 percent to 51.4 billion dinars, official figures showed.
Worsening trade deficits have been a dilemma in recent years. However, its decline this year was one of the main reasons for the increase in foreign exchange reserves in the country.
Central bank statistics showed on Tuesday that the country’s foreign currency assets reached the equivalent of 162 days of imports, the highest level since 2011.
The Tunisian government has earlier asserted its commitment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to develop a program of economic reforms.
The program comes in line with the government’s vision of cooperating with the international financial structure, and financial capacity.
During his first virtual meeting with the IMF experts, Prime Minister Hichem Mechichi said that Tunisia is ready to implement a number of structural reforms.
The Tunisian government is looking for a feasible way to finance the current year’s budget after its agreement with the IMF ended in 2020.
The agreement enabled Tunisia to obtain $2.9 billion used to finance the budget and run state affairs.
In case it failed to obtain external loans, the gap will be wide between the available resources and financing requests.
The World Bank Group released its annual Economic Outlook Report in December 2020, in which it expected a sharper decline in growth in Tunisia, compared to most of its regional peers, having entered the COVID-19 crisis during a period of slow growth and rising debt levels.
After an expected 9.2 percent contraction in 2020, growth is expected to temporarily accelerate to 5.8 percent in 2021 as the pandemic’s effects begin to abate, the report read.