Banking in Tunisia
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Banking in Tunisia is a service industry comprising 18 small domestic banks and three publicly controlled banks, which are the largest. The Tunisian banking sector has always been characterized as small and highly concentrated.
Tunisia was among the first to introduce financial reforms in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The financial sector of the country was tightly controlled through the mid-1980s. Since then, it has undergone three decades of gradual but insufficient reforms. State-owned commercial banks dominate the banking system and account for more than half of market share, which implies state control of the banking sector and is a negative for economic growth. After the fall of Ben Ali regime, the bank sector owned by his close family has been seized by the central bank.
Tunisian banks have a relatively high non-performing loan (NPL) to total loans ratio. The average NPL to total loan ratio for the period 2005-2008 was 18.3%, slightly lower than Egypt’s 19.7% but significantly higher than that of Jordan (4.8%), Lebanon (11.9%), and Morocco (10.1%). By 2009, Tunisian NPL rates were falling but were still relatively high at 13.2%.
The 2011 Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia, affected the country’s economic, social and political stability, changing the country’s prospects. In the wake of this revolution, it has been suggested that a modern offshore banking system would be a viable development strategy for Tunisia, and that it would play an essential role in the country's economic recovery.
The historical, economic and cultural links to Europe, the proximity of Tunisia to the European market, and the strong correlation of economic growth rates in Tunisia with those in nearby Europe could make it an attractive alternative as recent EU and US pressure have forced Switzerland and Luxembourg to partially retreat from banking secrecy.
Tunisia is known for economic and political stability, its highly educated workforce, while Islamic radicalism is weak. Tunisia does not have the resource curse of oil or mineral deposits that often determine instability. From 2000 to 2009, Tunisia grew at an annual rate of 5.2% and its per capita income of about $8,300 (in PPP terms) in 2009 was second only to Lebanon among the oil-importing MENA countries. The stability of the Tunisian Dinar and historically low inflation in Tunisia are positive indicators for its potential development of financial services. Inflation was 4.9% in FY 2007-08 and 3.5% in FY 2008-09. The Tunisian Dinar was less volatile in 2000-2010 than the currencies of its oil-importing neighbors, Egypt and Morocco.
- "Tunisia seizes bank from ex-leader's family". Reuters. January 20, 2011. Retrieved March 6, 2012.
- "Worldbank data on Tunisian banking". Retrieved 2012-03-03.
- "Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa". Retrieved 2012-03-03.
- "IMF study on Europe, Tunisia and Morocco". Retrieved 2012-03-03.
- "Tunisian inflation rate since 1980". Retrieved 2012-03-03.
- "IFSB 10 year framework document". Retrieved 2012-03-03.
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