Pharmaceutical industry is protected. All imports of pharmaceutical products are controlled by the Central Pharmacy of Tunisia. Agricultural products from Arab and North African Nations have preferential tariff rates.
All goods benefitting from the free import regime are imported under cover of an import certificate and a commercial invoice.
Goods excluded from the free import regime can only be imported with import authorizations issued by the Ministry of Trade. These import authorizations are valid 12 months except for certain sensitive goods.
These applications, obtained from Chambers of Commerce, are filed against a receipt with an approved intermediary who sends them to the Ministry of Trade.
Imports made under the compensation scheme and imports without payment are subject to special regimes.
Customs procedures are as follows: either quick collection by simplified procedure (Request for collection authorization: DAE); or carriage to the factory under Customs seal or under escort; or inspection at the factory by the on-site Customs officer; or later regularization before export.
Imported goods could pay tariff rates up 200%. All goods are subject to a fee of 3% of total duties paid in the import. VAT is also applicable (18% for most of goods). There is a consumption tax for goods competing with local production. Rates vary from 10% to 700%. Luxury goods pay the highest rate.
After sale services are more and more appreciated. Local customers are not very confident with new products and brands without a local representative. Direct marketing is not very developed.
In Tunisia, the exclusive distribution contracts are prohibited. Wholesale and retail marketing is not allowed for foreign companies. To protect local business, hypermarkets need authorisations in some areas.
At the present time, the organized distribution sector in Tunisia hinges on three main actors:
- The Mabrouk Group, the owner of Monoprix since 1999. This group has rapidly set up an expansion strategy, both internal and external. In particular the group bought out the Touta chain in 2003 then bought the main outlets of the chain "Le passage". At the same time, the group went into partnership with the French group Casino, which allowed it to set up in the hypermarket segment (Géant). With a market share estimated at 36%, the Mabrouk Group, under all its names, is the leader in the sector.
- The Chaibi Group, which began in the hypermarket segment (Carrefour) and is growing in the supermarket segment under the name of Champion. The group recently bought out the Bonprix supermarket chain, which brings the estimated market share of the group to 31%.
- The public Magasin Général, which remains the leading supermarket chain in terms of number of outlets (43), with a turnover of 152.2M TND, below that of Monoprix. This firm, which has been put on the list of companies to be privatized, could see substantial growth once it is controlled by private investors, favoring the emergence of a third important actor in the sector. It seems probable that the authorities will favor this scenario ( a third actor) rather than a take-over by one of the other two actors.
Finally, let us note that Promogro (13% of market share) is a rather different case as it is positioned on the "wholesale-retail" market.
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Last Updates: January 2015