Tunisia Is Heading Down The Wrong Path And Its Economic Situation Is Getting Worse

Introduction

In December 2010, the drama began in Tunisia. This was the start of the Tunisian revolution, known as “The Jasmine revolution.” It all commenced when a young man, selling fruits and vegetables at the market, named Mouhamed Ali Bouazizi set his body on fire. A few days later, demonstrations began on December 17, 2010 and spread throughout the country, causing President Ben Ali to flee to Saudi Arabia, accompanied by his family. Due to the huge number of protests in the country, the Tunisian population hoped to change the economic and political situation in Tunisia. Unfortunately, 10 years later, the country is still in a catastrophic state and suffering from an economic crisis (Jounaïdi).

An economic fall

Following the revolution, Tunisia’s manufacturing sector faced a number of challenges. Political instability, strikes and demonstrations disrupted the country’s industrial production and foreign investment, resulting in a significant drop in employment and GDP growth. In addition, strikes and labor disputes have disrupted production lines in the manufacturing industry, while uncertainty over government policies has discouraged foreign investors (Tunisia Economic Snapshot).

According to data from Tera Finances, Tunisia’s Gross Domestic Product “(GDP)” has been declining since the revolution. From the figure below, “since 2010, the economy has fallen by 1.9% and reached negative growth of 8.8%, ten years after the revolution and also following the Covid 19 pandemic which strongly disrupted the economy of the country”(Ilboursa).

            Rate of growth change in % at constant prices of living of the previous year

A study was carried out in Tunisia by the Afrobarometer team in Tunisia announcing that 72% of Tunisians say that the country is heading in “the wrong direction.” In addition, 97% of them consider that the management of the country’s economy is a very urgent problem and needs to be solved very quickly (Saad 2-4). Moreover, several problems are multiplying, such as shortages of drinking water as well as the lack of several medical treatments and materials.

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Tunisia’s economy has been declining for the past 10 years after the Tunisian revolution took place. Inflation has risen by 10% in the country, leading to a very big price increase, due to the Covid 19 pandemic as well.  Nevertheless, wages are still the same despite the significant growth in inflation. In October 2023, the former Tunisian Economy Minister Samir Said highlighted in an interview with France 24 that “the war in Ukraine has exacerbated an already challenging situation.” This statement underscores the notion that Tunisia’s economy deteriorated further in the aftermath of the conflict in Ukraine (Rich).

In the aftermath of the revolution and the economic fall in Tunisia, trading dynamics experienced a fall after the revolution. One of the examples is the decline in Tunisia’s exports. In an article written by Samouel BEJI, Tunisia’s exports fell by 2.8% since 2011 post-revolution and marked a significant decrease compared to the previous years.

“The Tunisian Financial System in the Post-Revolutionary Era” by Samouel Beji, households experienced a decline in their disposable income due to factors such as inflation and the depreciation of the currency. This decline in purchasing power led to a shift in consumer behavior: Tunisians became more cautious in their spending habits, prioritizing essential goods and cutting back on discretionary spending such as luxury items, travel, and entertainment. In addition, the emergence of informal markets and smuggling networks further complicated the consumption landscape, with implications for tax revenues and market regulation efforts (Beji 5).

Tunisia bankrupt but refuses aid

 The international Monetary Fund (IMF) has proposed a €1.7 billion loan for Tunisia’s current president, Kais Said. The latter refused the loan, saying that “the institution demanded structural reforms for this loan.” The president decided to find other solutions in order to repay the country’s debts without resorting to  external aid.

The Tunisian President Kais Said at the FMI Conference

On the contrary, the country is still bankrupt and is in danger of  going down a very bad path. Nevertheless, according to the Arab News Magazine, “the IMF is pressing for economic reforms which Tunisian President Kais Said’s government has refused to commit to”. In addition, The Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni declared that the IMF should take a Pragmatic plan in order to rescue Tunisia. At the moment, the Tunisian president is trying to find solutions to save the country, while expanding network of contacts and making visits to several sectors in Tunisia in order to understand all the related problems. But, to this day, the economy has not changed and is likely to fall even lower in a few years’ time (LeMonde avec AFP).

References

Ardıç, Nurullah. “Understanding the ‘Arab Spring’: Justice, Dignity, Religion and International Politics.” Afro Eurasian Studies, vol. 1, no. 1, Spring 2012, pp. 8-52.

Ilboursa. « Dix ans après la Révolution, quel bilan économique pour la Tunisie ? » ilboursa.com, www.ilboursa.com/marches/dix-ans-apres-la-revolution-quel-bilan-economique-pour-la-tunisie-_26060. Accessed 1 February 2024.

Blaise, Lilia. « En Tunisie, la crise sur tous les fronts ». Le Monde.fr, 22 Juin 2021, www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2021/06/22/en-tunisie-la-crise-sur-tous-les-fronts_6085241_3212.html.   Accessed 1 February 2024.

RICH, David. « Enlisée dans une crise économique, la Tunisie au bord du défaut de paiement ». France 24, 31 janv. 2023, www.france24.com/fr/afrique/20230131-enlisée-dans-la-crise-économique-la-tunisie-au-bord-du-défaut-de-paiement. Accessed 30 January 2024.

“La Tunisie étouffée par une crise économique aiguë : l’Union européenne à la rescousse.” Econostrum.info, 12 June 2023, https://econostrum.info/crise-lunion-europeenne-rescousse-tunisie/. Accessed 30 January 2024.

Le Monde avec AFP. « En Tunisie, pour se passer des « diktats » du FMI, Kaïs Saïed veut taxer les riches ». Le Monde.fr, 2 juin 2023, www.lemonde.fr/afrique/article/2023/06/02/en-tunisie-pour-se-passer-des-diktats-du-fmi-kaies-saied-veut-taxer-les-riches_6175870_3212.html. Accessed 2 February 2024.

Contributeurs aux projets Wikimedia. « Révolution tunisienne — Wikipédia ». Wikipédia, l’encyclopédie libre, 6 janv. 2011, fr.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Révolution_tunisienne&oldid=208565494.Accessed 1 February 2024.

« Italy PM urges ‘pragmatic’ IMF approach to Tunisia bailout ». The New Arab, www.newarab.com/news/italy-pm-urges-pragmatic-imf-approach-tunisia-bailout..Accessed 12 February 2024.

Jounaïdi, Aabla. « Tunisie : dix ans après, un bilan amer pour l’économie ». RFI, 14 janv. 2021, www.rfi.fr/fr/afrique/20210114-tunisie-dix-ans-après-un-bilan-amer-pour-l-économie. Accessed 12 February 2024.

Ben Saad, Mohamed Najib. « Le regard des Tunisiens sur la crise économique : La lutte continue ». Revue d’Afrobarometer No. 637, mai 2023, p.1-12. https://www.afrobarometer.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/06/AD637-La-crise-economique-de-la-Tunisie-La-lutte-continue-Afrobarometer-19juin23.pdf.

« Tunisia Economic Snapshot ». OECD, avr. 2022, www.oecd.org/economy/tunisia-economic-snapshot. Accessed 1 February 2024.

Beji, Samuel. Post Revolution Tunisian Financial System : What about Islamic Finance. P33, 2018, p. 1-10.

https://economix.fr/uploads/source/doc/seminaires/musulman/Samouel%20Beji_REV-Post%20Revolution%20Tunisian%20%20Financial%20System.pdf.

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safta cyrine

Cyrine SAFTA : Holder of a bachelor’s degree in English language, civilization and literature. Currently, I am a first-year Master’s student, English-speaking World. I am working on my research project which consists of comparing two social movements: Black Lives Matter in the United States and the Arab Spring in Tunisia. I am also a home English and French teacher at Acadomia, France and a volunteer at Afev France. I am also a volunteer for a mentoring mission at the FDNU (Federation of Diplomacy and the United Nations). Subsequently, I will continue my studies by doing a PHD with the specialty of North American Civilization, in order to become a teacher-researcher in American civilization.

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