Tunisia's Biggest Companies
Tunisia has a very diverse economy in which agriculture, petroleum, mining, manufacturing and tourism all play an important part. The country has a GDP of over 40 billion dollars, and it also has one of the highest per capita GDPs in the Arab world. Agriculture accounts for approximately 11 percent of the GDP, while industry contributes about 25 percent and the service sector accounts for about 62 percent. The Tunisian economy has been growing steadily at an annual rate of about 5 percent, but the country still suffers from relatively high unemployment, particularly among its younger population. This problem is likely to increase as the population continues to grow. However, Tunisia is still considered to be one of the most competitive economies in the African continent.
Tunisia is a small North African country that is composed of a mixture of arid desert and rich farmland. Agricultural products are very important in the Tunisian economy and they include almonds, dates, citrus fruits, tomatoes, olives, sugar beets, grain, beef and dairy products. A lot of the agricultural production in Tunisia occurs near the coast and agriculture accounts for a large proportion of the country's exports.
Industry in Tunisia is primarily composed of footwear and clothing production, the manufacture of parts for vehicles and the production of electric machinery. Many large international companies work in Tunisia, including Hewlett Packard and Airbus. Tunisia has attracted a lot of investment from the countries of the Persian Gulf, particularly the United Arab Emirates, and it also maintains an important relationship with the European Union. Tunisia's good relationships with both Europe and the Arab world are very important for its economy.
Tunisiana is the only private company to be involved in the Tunisian telecommunications sector. It was founded in 2002 as a subsidiary of the Egyptian company, Orascom, and its network now covers approximately 99 percent of the Tunisian population.
The Tunisair airline is another important Tunisian company that flies to more than 50 destinations in the Middle East, Africa and Europe. International travel is very important for the Tunisian economy since tourism is a major source of income for the country.
The oil industry is an important sector of the economy in Tunisia, with production of more than 97,000 barrels a day. Tunisia has twelve oil fields. Production of oil in the country began in 1966. Medex or Mediterranean Exploration is a large company that is involved in the petroleum industry. Its subsidiaries include Corex UK, a chemical testing company that works with many large multinational oil companies including Shell and BP. Medex was founded in 1995 and it operates predominantly in North Africa, through its Medex Petroleum subsidiaries.
The most important provider of electricity in Tunisia is STEG or the Societe Tunisienne de l'Electricite et du Gaz, which is a state owned company that is responsible for supplying most of the electricity that is used in the country. Tunisia is currently working on increasing its energy production by investing in nuclear power, in partnership with France. Another new energy production venture is the use of large scale solar electricity production as part of the Desertec project, in which Tunisia will play a role.