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Impact of the Arab Spring on Tunisia’s Economy

Tunisia’s Economy : After the Arab Spring

Naman Jain


Tunisia is a country located in Africa, and also constitutes the Arab League. It was one of the countries where protests had taken place last year; the protests that had led to the coinage of the term – Arab Spring. According to Amara, the aftermath of the Arab Spring in Tunisia has seen a decline in the speed of “investment”, an increase in “unemployment”, and the fall of tourism ; and it is claimed by “businessmen and government officials” that this condition in Tunisia is due to the “strikes” and “sit-ins” carried out by Tunisians. Yet, it seems unfair to stem the blame on the sit ins, as the Tunisians did so for a better future. Unfortunately, the economy suffered because of that. Amara also says that the people in Tunisia, whose GDP is similar to that of the Dominican Republic, are causing the very “problems” that they are “protesting” against, and these problems involve “poverty and unemployment”. Amara says that Tunisia saw “shrinking of the economy”, increase in the “unemployment rate”, and its tourism sector, “Tunisia’s biggest source of foreign currency”, being hit; all by pretty significant numbers. Amara says “It [“the new government”] has secured billions of dollars in loans and aid from foreign governments and international institutions to get it through the slump. The prime minister . . . travelled to the past week’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland to tout for investment.” He says that the “unrest” is serving as a barrier to the government’s idea of “public investment targeting the poorest and most restive parts of the country” which according to “Employment Minister Abdel-Wahab Maatar” would lead to the “creation” of jobs – around 250,000 in “public and private sectors”.  The evidence shows that unfortunately, the unrest is the main obstacle to a strong economy in Tunisia in the post – Arab Spring world.

An article in The Economist titled “Arab spring economies : Unfinished business” says “Tunisia saw its GDP growth in 2011 go from 3% to 0%, according to the IMF – the Tunisian government says the economy actually contracted by 1.8%”(49). Such a steep downfall in the growth of GDP certainly indicates the poor condition of the economy that post – Arab Spring Tunisia has. The article says “There are four main reasons for the economic downturn in the post-revolution countries”(49). The article says that these reasons are “instability” because it “has driven away customers and undermined business confidence” ; “strikes” ; “poor state of the government machinery” ; and “the chill that has descended over all businesses connected to the previous rulers, especially privatised ones” (49-50).  An article on the United Arab Emirates based The National written by Farah Halime says “Unemployment is a huge problem in Tunisia, with about 700,000 jobless in a population of approximately 10.6 million.” Halime also says “Tourism, a vital driver of employment and foreign currency earnings, was down by as much as 50 per cent after the revolution, government statistics showed”. This can be described as another impact of the Arab Spring on Tunisia’s economy.
The one factor that one can look at is the GDP of Tunisia. Mankiw says “Gross domestic product, or GDP, is often considered the best measure of how well the economy is performing”(18). If Tunisia’s GDP has fallen so drastically, it obviously indicates that the economy is not doing well after the Arab Spring struck Tunisia. However, one must also consider unemployment in Tunisia as an economic impact of the Arab Spring.
A nuqudy.com article says “Tunisia’s budget deficit should rise to 6% of GDP in 2012 from an estimated 4.5% in 2011 as the government plans to increase spending in an attempt to reinvigorate the economy which was severely hurt by the effects of the revolution”. It says “The budget also forecasts a GDP growth of 4.5% in 2012, well above the 0.2% which was estimated for 2011. Furthermore, the government expects the economy to create 75,000 thousand jobs.” The article from The Economist says “Tunisia’s government has vowed to raise growth to 8% and reduce unemployment from 19% to 8.5% by 2016”.  The difference from 19% to 8.5% seems extremely impressive, and it would be great for the Tunisian economy if the government can achieve the lowering of the unemployment rate.
We can hence say that Tunisia’s economy was impacted severely by the Arab Spring. Tunisians must work hard in helping their economy recover after the revolution, in achieving what they as citizens want for their country.

Works Cited

Amara, Tarek. “FEATURE – Tunisia’s economy still awaits post-revolt bounce.” Reuters 1 February, 2012. Web. 17 February, 2012. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/02/01/tunisia-economy-idUSL5E8CO1XC20120201.

“Arab spring economies: Unfinished business.” The Economist 4 February, 2012: 49-50.

Halime, Farah. “Tunisia’s new goal – show how to build economy after revolution.” The National 23 October , 2011. Web. 17 February, 2012. http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/industry-insights/economics/tunisias-new-goal-show-how-to-build-economy-after-revolution.

Mankiw, N. Gregory. Macroeconomics: Seventh Edition. New York: Worth Publishers, 2010. Print.

“Tunisia’s budget deficit to rise to 6% of GDP.” nuqudy.com 4 January, 2012. Web. 17 February, 2012. http://english.nuqudy.com/General_Overview/North_Africa/Tunisias_budget_def-477.