Economic performance and outlook: After stagnating at 1% in 2015 and 2016, economic growth increase to an estimated 2.2% in 2017, due to the good performance in the third quarter of 2017 (1.9% year on year). GDP is projected to grow 2.8% in 2018 and 3.5% in 2019, subject to an acceleration of structural reforms, a strong upswing in the industrial sector to meet external demand, and the easing of the cyclical nature of agricultural growth. Achieving these rates depends on the country’s ability to consolidate and sustain the growth of the real economy that began in 2017, particularly in the manufacturing and nonmanufacturing industries of phosphate, oil, and gas, as well as market services.
Macroeconomic evolution: Since 2011, Tunisia has pursued economic revitalization through public spending. This policy has made public and private consumption the main growth driver at the expense of public investment (16.1% of the 2017 budget) and given rise to significant macroeconomic imbalances by laying the foundations for a substantial dual deficit (budget and current account). The sequence of primary deficits linked to an increase in current expenditure—particularly the public service wage bill (41% of the budget in 2017)—have widened the public debt (70% of GDP at the end of 2017, up from 39.7% in 2010), which is denominated mainly in foreign currency, and led to a 104% depreciation of the dinar against the U.S. dollar over the same period. This sharp drop fueled inflation by raising the cost of imports; the Central Bank tightened monetary policy by increasing the money market rate to 5.22% in September 2017, up from 3.9% in 2012.
Tailwinds: Several positive factors are expected to support growth in 2017 and subsequently in 2018–19. The improved security situation has revived the badly hit tourist industry. Tourism saw a 32% increase in 2017 that is likely to improve the balance of payments and help stabilize the dinar. Phosphate production and exports rebounded strongly, and investment (foreign and domestic) shows preliminary signs of picking up. Tunisia also continues to benefit from strong support from the international community. Growth is also likely to benefit from the continued recovery in the euro area, which began in 2012, particularly in France, Germany, and Spain, and is expected to drive up exports. Finally, Tunisia may benefit from the dividends of strategic reforms adopted since 2015. These include the Law of November 27, 2015, on public-private partnerships and that of September 30, 2016, on investment to boost the investment rate in accordance with the Strategic Development Plan 2016–2020, which anticipates an increase from 19% of GDP in 2016 to 24% in 2020.
Headwinds: Since 2011, public accounts have continued to deteriorate. Dominated by current expenditure (72% of the budget in 2017), public spending does not reflect the need for capital expenditure, particularly in infrastructure, which is required to maintain long-term competitiveness. Despite some advances, the progress of structural reforms remains limited because of resistance to changes to the development model that has supported the economy since the 1970s. However, acceleration of these reforms remains essential to the country’s ability to benefit from the support of development partners and the confidence of the markets in its ability to (re)finance debt. Other negative medium-term factors are a deterioration of the security situation due to the crisis in Libya and a possible resurgence of social conflicts related to public sector reform and the decline in purchasing power.
- There are two yield curves in Tunisia. The one produced by the Conseil des Marchés Financiers, which is derived from primary market, and the other provided by Tunisie Clearing which is based on data from both the primary and secondary markets. (Sources: CMF, Tunisie Clearing)
- The government securities yield curve extended to 15 years with three benchmark points along the curve (4-7 and 10 years).
- The strategy is to increase the share of domestic debt to 50% of total public debt.
- Tunisia is 11th in the ABMDI 2017 Ranking Report.
The government’s strategy on bond issuance is focused on gradually increasing the share of domestic debt to 50% of public debt (currently the share of domestic debt is 38% of public debt).
By auction and by reopening methods, the government of Tunisia has built three maturities benchmarks. Despite the existence of a REPO market, the secondary market is not dynamic. Strategically, it plans to build a yield curve when the secondary market becomes transparent and dynamic. However, a regulatory agency, the Conseil des Marchés Financiers (CMF), currently simply builds a curve from the issues on the primary market.
In addition to the CMF’s yield curve, Tunisie Clearing (Tunisia’s clearing house) has developed a secondary market-based yield curve.
Yield curve calculation models
The yield curve in Tunisia is generated from actual issued yields at issuance. This is a market yield curve but only from the primary market.
Where there is no traded yield for a certain point along the yield curve, linear interpolation is used to generate an appropriate yield.
Yield curve managed by
The yield curve generated by the Conseil des Marchés Financiers is on a weekly basis. The one generated by “Tunisie Clearing” is on a daily basis.
The yield curves can be accessed from the “Conseil des Marchés Financiers” and “Tunsie Clearing” websites.
Challenges in building an efficient yield curve
Tunisia faces the following challenges in building an efficient yields curve:
- Market fragmentation: primary, secondary and repo market are all fragmented
- Narrow investor base
- Limited and illiquid secondary market
- Lack of transparency
Guide to Buying Bonds
Procedures for market participation
The Ministry of Finance publishes a semi-annual issuance calendar with the expected total amount for the issuances. A week before the auction, the Ministry of Finance announces the nominal amount to be auction and maturities to be issued. Treasury bond auctions are handled through the Treasury Department of the Ministry of Finance. Primary Dealers submit their bids physically in sealed envelopes on the first Tuesday of each month. If the submission date falls on a public holiday, the tenders are sent to the Ministry of Finance, within one business day prior to the submission date. The bids are opened on the first Wednesday of each month or, if applicable, the next business day after a public holiday. The Ministry of Finance groups and ranks the bids in descending order based on price. For bids at the limit price selected, the Ministry of Finance may withhold a portion of the total amount available to be distributed proportionally among the bidders in their bids.
Treasury bonds with maturities greater than one year may be traded on the Tunisian Stock Exchange (TSE). Access to the TSE requires going through a domestic broker.
Any transaction on the TSE exchange, whether a purchase or sale of shares or bonds is accompanied by transaction costs. These fees usually do not exceed 1% of the transaction amount.
The trading of securities on the stock exchange is done daily from Monday to Friday. The markets are open from 9am to 2:10 p.m.
The TSE has implemented the new version of the electronic trading system V900, aimed at enhancing surveillance, developing trading operations and increasing the capacity of the trading system. The new systems is characterized by high speed and efficiency in receiving and processing buy and sell orders, and more sophisticated coverage of long or short positions to protect against possible reversals (stop order). It is also linked to the clearing and settlement system.
Transactions on the secondary market are settled on T+1, T+2, T+3 basis. ON the Primary market, TBills follow a T+3 cycle while TBonds, T+5.
Income from movable capital and interest is subject to a withholding tax of 20% personal income tax and corporate tax.
|Rating Agency||Current rating||Outlook|
|Standard and Poor’s||CCC+||Stable|
Treasury bills were issued previously by tender exclusively for Primary Dealers (PDs) who can participate to the auction for their own account or on behalf of their clients. In addition to participating in the primary auctions, the PDs ensure their marketability of the Treasury Bills and the liquidity on the secondary market. But now, banks others than PDs can participate to the auction which lead to illiquidity of the secondary market.
Primary Dealers are selected from banks, brokers and financial institutions who are registered members of STICODEVAM. The following institutions are the designated PDs:
Openness to international investors
Pursuant to the exchange regulations in force, the subscription by a foreign non-resident individual or legal body of debt securities issued by the state in Tunisia is subject to authorization of the BCT. However, the subscription and acquisition of BTA by foreigners through importing foreign currencies is permitted to a maximum rate of 20% of the biannual issuances. This rate is set by the Central Bank. The holders of these debt securities are guaranteed the transfer of their funds.
Capital controls exist in Tunisia. Nevertheless, foreign investors can acquire shares in local firms by purchasing through local brokers who get the agreements. Foreign investors can also acquire indirect investments through local mutual funds.
Restrictions on FX and profit repatriation
The Tunisian Dinar is not a fully convertible currency, it is pegged to a basket of currencies.
Documents & Resources
Documents - Ministry of Finance
- Brochure mensuelle Avril 2013 (680 kB)
- Brochure mensuelle decembre 2012 (622 kB)
- Brochure mensuelle fevrier 2013 (673 kB)
- Brochure mensuelle janvier 2013 (670 kB)
- Brochure mensuelle mars 2013 (677 kB)
- CALENDRIER EMISSION 2013 (57 kB)
- Draft of Government Debt Instruments (17.4 kB)
- Taxation Rules on Government Debt (50 kB)