Economic surveys and country surveillance

Economic Survey of Tunisia 2018





Executive summary, Assessment and recommendations, Overview


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Tunisia: reviving the process of economic convergence for the benefit of all Tunisians, Blog post


Press release




The drivers of inclusive growth need to be rebalanced

The process of economic convergence slowed after 2010, reflecting specific factors and an exacerbation of structural constraints. Tourism and mining activities suffered from a downturn in security and the social climate. Private consumption was underpinned by a sharp increase in employment and public-sector salaries but economic activity and job creation in the private sector remained low. Increased demand has put pressure on prices and the current account. The ratios of public and external debt to GDP have risen sharply. In order to return public debt to a sustainable footing without stifling growth, fiscal stabilisation needs to be targeted over the medium-term and accompanied by structural reforms which will revive economic activity and job creation in the private sector. Public spending also needs to be refocused on supporting underprivileged populations and inclusive growth.


Reviving business investment is vital for relaunching the convergence process

The investment rate has been on a downward trend since the start of the century, and is currently low. To date, public investment has been for the most part preserved. On the other hand, business investment has suffered from excessive regulations on product markets, as well as complex administrative procedures which can encourage corruption, unpredictable taxation, increasing problems with customs clearance and the shipping of goods, and a financial system which does not particularly favour start-ups and growing companies. In order to revive business investments, these restrictions need to be lifted, which will also help revive productivity, job creation and the purchasing power of all Tunisians. Housing investment has been underpinned by financial and tax incentives which have moved savings away from more productive investments. The current reform process, kicked off by the new law on investment, needs to be continued.



The creation of quality jobs will help reduce the gap in living standards

The average standard of living of Tunisians has improved in recent decades and there has been a substantial decline in poverty. Nevertheless, significant inequality still exists in the labour market, with high unemployment especially among young graduates, widespread informal employment, and many Tunisians in precarious working situations. Gender gaps are smaller than in other MENA countries but the employment rate is much lower for women than men, and women often have less skilled jobs. There are significant regional inequalities in terms of living standards and employment. A new regional development policy is required to leverage the specific strengths of each region.

S‌‌‌ee also:
Tunisia: Economic forecast

For further information please contact the Tunisia Desk at the OECD Economics Department.

The OECD Secretariat's report was prepared by Isabelle Joumard and Christine de La Maisonneuve under the supervision of Piritta Sorsa. The survey benefited from the substantial contributions of Manuel Betin, Alain de Serres, Souad Dhaoui, Raja Dridi, Jean-Marc Fournier, Said Kechida, Hedi Larbi and Paul O’Brien. Statistical research was carried out by Hermes Morgavi. Assa Fofana formatted the report and made the layout.



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