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publication December 22, 2020

Tunisia Economic Monitor, Fall 2020: Rebuilding the Potential of Tunisian Firms


Tunisia is facing unprecedent socio-economic challenges amid the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the first spark of the so-called Arab Spring. 

Due to a series of economic shockwaves in the past decade in addition to the delay in engaging profound reforms, Tunisia was weakly prepared to face a strong shock as the one provoked by the COVID-19. 

Stunted growth and a less dynamic private sector have contributed to persistently high levels of unemployment. In parallel, a vision of the State as a provider of jobs, in the absence of private opportunities, has led to a ballooning public sector wage bill and dwindling fiscal space to invest in the economy. 

In this context, dynamizing firms and their job creation potential is more urgent than before if Tunisia is to begin recovering from the COVID-19 crisis.

The Tunisia Economic Monitor 2020 sheds the light on drivers of the sharper decline in growth than most of its regional peers and suggests a coherent plan for restarting the economy and restoring the credibility of the macroeconomic framework. 

The special focus section in this edition of the Tunisia Economic Monitor draws on the recently published enterprise survey for Tunisia to discuss the latest evidence on firm performance and present priorities for a growing and more productive private sector. 

The report goes through some of the most urgent structural measures needed to help bring the private sector back on track. These include increasing the ability of new firms to enter the market and to offer new products or services, tackling structural bottlenecks that complicate firms’ access to finance, dealing with the significant deterioration in customs performance, and building a clear vision for innovation policy to nurture sectors where innovation and comparative advantage are beginning to emerge.