The rate of growth of manufacturing industries is expected to reach 3.2% in 2011, compared with 1.1% last year, according to estimates announced Tuesday by the Industry and Technology Ministry. These industries account for 18% to 20% of the GDP. Mr. Zakariya Hmed, Staff Chief of the Industry Minister said, in the regular press briefing held at the Government's Palace in Kasbah, that the Ministry has set these estimates on the basis of indicators recorded during the first nine months of 2011. Positive forecasts for job creation Job creation expected in this sector should grow to about 37,000 positions in 2011 (13,200 in the private sector and 23,700 in the public sector), in addition to ensuring the sustainability of 13,000 job positions (sub-contracting, contracts, etc.). The ministerial official also said that 80% of the 11,000 jobs lost as a result of destruction should be saved, thanks to the payment of indemnification to damaged businesses, which thus could resume their activities. Decline in mining and hydrocarbons sectors Conversely, "the growth rate for the mining, hydrocarbons, electricity and telecommunications sectors will be very low this year, not exceeding 1%, compared with 4% in 2010, as a result of the noticeable fall recorded in the mining sector (-40%) and that of hydrocarbons (-6.6%)," said the Chief of Staff of the Industry Minister. This drop is the result of disruptions in these sectors that damaged the phosphate production system (production, transport, processing and exports), as well as oil extraction, said the same source. These disturbances also impeded oil prospecting efforts since the number of explored wells did not exceed 10 to August 10, compared with 20 wells in the same period of 2010. Record figures of exports Regarding Tunisian exports, they grew by 8.5%, compared to 2010. The official announced that record figures were recorded in the first nine months of 2011, with exports exceeding for the first time 20 billion dinars. This figure will reach 21 billion by the end of the year, according to estimates. These positive results were prompted by the significant increase of exports of food industries by 31.5% to late September 2011, thanks to booming exports to Libya (450 million dinars, compared with 166 million dinars in 2010). Yet, exports of building materials, phosphate derivatives and chemical products fell by 25%. Mr. Hmed said, in this regard, that Tunisia "missed an opportunity to achieve significant gains," with the rise in international prices of these products. Regarding exports of milk to Libya, he said that Tunisia has stopped it since July 13, 2011 to preserve the country's stocks of this strategic product. Private companies undertook to import quantities of milk powder, their processing in Tunisia and their re-exports to the Libyan market. These companies have managed so far to export nearly 2 million litres of milk. Rise in investment intents by late 2011 Investment intents should increase by 20% by late 2011, compared with the previous years. They will involve, in particular, major investments while declared investments for small and medium projects as well as those dedicated to exports will fall. The ministry of industry noted a wait-and-see attitude of major companies based in Tunisia which are not ready to make additional investments.