Tunisia is in the process of economic reform and liberalization after decades of heavy state direction and participation in the economy. Prudent economic and fiscal planning have resulted in moderate but sustained growth for over a decade. Tunisia's economic growth historically has depended on oil, phosphates, agri-food products, car parts manufacturing, and tourism. In the World Economic Forum 2008/2009 Global Competitiveness Report, the country ranks first in Africa and 36th globally for economic competitiveness, well ahead of Portugal (43), Italy (49) and Greece (67).
Current GDP per capita soared by 380% in the Seventies. But this proved unsustainable and it collapsed to a paltry 10% in the turbulent Eighties rising to a modest 36% in the Nineties signifying the impact of successful diversification.
This is a chart of trend of gross domestic product of Tunisia (estimated) by the International Monetary Fund with figures in millions of Tunisian Dinars.
For purchasing power parity comparisons, the US Dollar is exchanged at 0.44 Tunisian Dinars only. Mean wages were $4.17 per manhour in 2009.
Growing foreign debt and the foreign exchange crisis in the mid-1980s. In 1986, the government launched a structural adjustment program to liberalize prices, reduce tariffs, and reorient Tunisia toward a market economy.
Tunisia's economic reform program has been lauded as a model by international financial institutions. The government has liberalized prices, reduced tariffs, lowered debt-service-to-exports and debt-to-GDP ratios, and extended the average maturity of its $10 billion foreign debt. Structural adjustment brought additional lending from the World Bank and other Western creditors. In 1990, Tunisia acceded to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) and is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
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