May 15, 2019 / 12:40 PM / 9 months ago

Tunisia's economic growth slows to 1.1 pct in first quarter

Tunisian Employees work at an underwear factory in Sfax, 260 km (162 miles) south of Tunis March 22, 2012. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

TUNIS (Reuters) - Tunisia’s economic growth slowed to 1.1 percent year-on-year in the first quarter of 2019, as agricultural activity declined, the state statistics institute said on Wednesday.

That compared with 2.7 percent in the same quarter last year and 2.1 percent in the last three months of 2018.

Despite the weaker first quarter data, annual growth is expected to reach about 3 percent this year, compared to 2.5 pct percent in 2018. Tunisia also aims to cut its budget deficit from 5 pct in 2018 to 3.9 pct in 2019.

Tunisia’s economy has been recovering slowly since taking a hit following the overthrow of autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali in 2011 and two major militant attacks in 2015.

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

Reporting By Tarek Amara; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne

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