Tunisia’s vital tourism sector could lose $1.4 billion and 400,000 jobs this year due to the new coronavirus pandemic, an official document showed, as the country seeks a loan guarantee from bilateral partners to issue sovereign bonds this year.
In a letter sent to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) that was reviewed by Reuters, Tunisia’s central bank governor and finance minister said the country’s economy would shrink by up to 4.3%, the steepest drop since independence in 1956.
The IMF, which approved on Friday a $745 million loan to Tunisia to counter the effects of the coronavirus, said a new funding programme with Tunisia could start in the second half of this year. The size of the new programme remains unknown.
The North Africa country has confirmed 747 cases of the virus and 34 deaths, and last month imposed a lockdown set to last until at least April 19. The outbreak is hammering its tourism sector which represents nearly 10% of gross domestic product (GDP) and is a key source of foreign currency.