Tunisia's economy shrank 3% in the first quarter of 2021

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Empty sunbathing chairs are seen on a beach near the Hasdrubal Hotel in Hammamet, Tunisia , March 12, 2020. Picture taken March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

TUNIS, May 15 (Reuters) - Tunisia's gross domestic product shrank 3% in the first quarter of 2021 from a year ago, the State Statistics Institute said on Saturday, showing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the country's tourism industry.

Tourism accounts for about 8% of Tunisia's GDP and is a major source of foreign currency. In the first quarter of 2020, Tunisia's GDP had contracted 1.7% from the same period a year earlier.

Tunisia, which has seen its debt burden rise and economy shrink by 8.8% last year in real terms, has started talks with the International Monetary Fund to seek a financial assistance package.

The State Statistics Institute said that unemployment rates are at 17.8 %, amid an unprecedented economic crisis in the country, which led to a record fiscal deficit of more than 11% in 2020.

Reporting by Tarek Amara; Editing by David Clarke

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