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Tunisia tries to boost local leather and footwear industries

Tunisia tries to boost local leather and footwear industries

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Tunisia has implemented a series of reforms to encourage local companies, especially the textile, leather and footwear industries. The government has launched an initiative to revive Tunisian industries and sharpen their competitiveness in a local market flooded with foreign goods, especially from China and Turkey.

Tunisian Minister of Industry and Small and Medium Enterprises Slim Feriani said the textile and clothing industry is a strategic manufacturing sector in terms of exports, employment and value-added output.

A series of fashion shows featuring locally made garments from more than 150 exhibitors is planned for the next few weeks. Seminars, workshops and partnership meetings between professionals are also scheduled.

"The authorities are seeking to provide all the necessary conditions to support the textile and leather sector and to address outstanding problems such as accumulated debts," said Omar Bouzouada, director of the Agency for the Promotion of Industry and Innovation (API).

Tunisia has a record trade deficit with China and Turkey. Official data indicate that Tunisian goods in the domestic market do not exceed 20% of all products sold. The situation prompted authorities to direct efforts towards economic development by focusing on supporting domestic products to contribute to steadying the local currency and reducing the trade deficit.

The volume of exports of the leather and footwear industries (LFI) rose by 9.1%, reaching 1,516.6 million dinars (MD) at the end of November 2019, against 1,390.7 MD in the same period last year.

The leather clothing field has the lion's share as its exports reached 27,1 MD during the first 11 months of 2019, up 96.4% compared with the same period last year, according to data provided by the National Centre of Leather and Footwear (CNCC).

Likewise, the other sectors recorded a rise reaching 18.1% for accessories and components (44.4 MD) and 17.7% for shoe uppers (340.1 MD).

However, the leather, hides and pelts sector dropped by 22.2% at the end of November, standing at 54.2MD against 69.7MD at the end of November 2018.

The LFI's imports recorded were up 5.6% at the end of the first 11 months of 2019, reaching 1,083.5 MD, against 1,025.6 MD during the same period in 2018.

The most imported products are shoe stems (127.2MD), leather, hides and pelts (551.6MD) and the accessories and components (206.7MD).

On the other hand, imports of leather goods recorded, at the end of November 2019, a 3% drop compared to the same period in 2018, reaching 78.3 MD, against 80.7 MD in 2018.

According to the CNCC's data, the sector's trade balance posted a 140% coverage rate of imports by exports during the first 11 months of 2019.

144 foreign or mixed capital companies employing over 19,500 people by the end of 2015. Footwear, stems and accessories are the first products exported by Tunisia, and the European market is Tunisia’s main traditional trade partner.

Official data state that the sector includes about 1,604 production units, 1,320 of which are devoted to exports. Feriani said the sector recently underwent a recovery, which enabled it to record added value in domestic and foreign markets; 73% of companies in this sector export their total production.
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