By Mourad Teyeb
Albawaba.com - Tunis
Tunisia FDI exceeds 1 billion dollars for the first time
Foreign direct investment (FDI) in Tunisia in 2000 exceeded 1 billion US dollars for the first time reaching 1.1 million dinars - a 125-percent increase over the 488 million dinars reported in 1999, according to official statistics published in Tunis.
Manufacturing FDI was up a staggering 240 percent from 198 million dinars to 673 million dinars, while foreign investment in the service sector rose by 75 percent.
There were 2,139 wholly or partially foreign-owned companies in Tunisia at the end of 2000, up by 181 or 9.2 percent on the previous year, and the new arrivals generated 14,752 jobs.
The foreign businesses and joint ventures were massively dominated by EU member-states, with 1,833 enterprises, followed by the US and Asia.
The trade deficit was up 19.9 percent at 3.72 billion dinars in 2000, with imports of 11.73 billion dinars (up 16.5 percent), exports of 8.01 billion dinars (up 14.9 percent), and an export/import coverage ratio of 68.3 percent against 69.2 percent.
Key factors behind the increased deficit were rising cereal imports following the poor harvest of 1999, and accelerating economic growth that boosted imports of capital goods and raw materials.
Meanwhile, the tax burden is expected to rise marginally from 20.6 percent in 2000 to 20.7 percent this year in spite of the progressive elimination of import tariffs and the government's recent decision to offer a series of new tax breaks.
The tariff and tax cuts will be offset by an improved collection rate due to fiscal reforms, an increase in income tax revenue generated by planned salary increases, and higher tax receipts from oil company profits swelled by rising world petroleum prices.
The recently announced tax breaks apply to leasing companies, risk capital firms that invest at least 30 percent of funds in the information technology sector, internet service providers, groups of companies eligible to adopt consolidated group accounting, and new investors in industrial and tourism zones.
© 2001 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )