Aug 02 2012
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UPDATE 1-Tunisia eyes 4.5 pct GDP growth in 2013
(Adds details, background)
By Tarek Amara
TUNIS, Aug 2 (Reuters) - Tunisia aims to achieve 4.5 percent economic growth in 2013 from 3.5 percent expected this year, official media reported on Thursday, as the north African country grapples with the effects of last year's revolt and Europe's debt crisis.
Planning and Regional Development Minister Jamel Gharbi gave the forecast to the official TAP news agency which noted that it challenged "observers' rather pessimistic forecasts about the development" of the economy.
Gharbi said the forecast could be achieved by boosting consumption and investment and consolidating exports.
Government statistics show GDP growth stood at 3.5 percent during the first half of 2012 which created 27,000 jobs, up 15 percent from the same period last year, TAP said. Manufacturing, a major employer, grew by 2.5 percent during the first quarter, TAP said, noting that was below forecasts.
It has however held a steady course on inflation, interest rates and exchange rates even in the turmoil that followed President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali's ousting in January last year.
But a string of resignations, including that of the finance minister and the central bank governor, appears to indicate that holding that line may not be easy. For years, Tunisia has had the highest GDP per capita in the region and post-revolution expectations from its 10-million population are high.
(Writing by Souhail Karam; Editing by Janet Lawrence)
Keywords: TUNISIA ECONOMY/GROWTH
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