May 18, 2016 / 11:53 AM / 3 years ago

Tunisia's economic growth slows to 1 pct in first qtr 2016

A general view shows the construction of a bridge in Tunis, Tunisia, May 16, 2016. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisia’s economic growth slowed to 1 percent year-on-year in the first quarter as agricultural activity declined, the state statistics institute said on Wednesday.

Tunisia is struggling with a drop in tourism after four major militant attacks over the past year and an outbreak of unrest over jobs and development at the start of this year.

Protests and strikes have hurt its phosphate industry, one of the main suppliers of hard currency.

The North African country’s economic growth was 1.8 percent in the first quarter of 2015. It is expected to reach 2.5 percent this year, compared with 0.8 percent in 2015, Finance Minister Slim Chaker has said.

The statistics agency said industrial activity for the first quarter fell about 1 percent. Agriculture slowed by 2.5 percent.

Tunisia is under pressure from international lenders to reduce public spending, including subsidies on basic foods and fuel, and cut its deficit. But social tensions make cost-cutting sensitive.

The International Monetary Fund said last month it has reached a tentative deal to assist Tunisia with a four-year loan program worth about $2.8 billion tied to economic reforms.

Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by Catherine Evans, Larry King

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