Speaking on 22 January, Touiti said that exports would grow at 8.7 per cent this year, compared with growth of 20 per cent during 2008.

“It’s obvious that our sales will be affected by the recession, mainly in European markets. But we’re working to keep exports rising and they are expected to grow by 8.7 per cent this year,” he said.

Three European countries – France, Italy and Germany – account for almost two-thirds of Tunisia’s exports of manufactured and processed goods.

Exports accounted for 45 per cent of Tunisia’s gross domestic product during 2008.