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flag Tunisia Tunisia: Selling and Buying

In this page: Market Access Procedures | Reaching the Consumers | Distributing a Product | Organizing Goods Transport | Identifying a Supplier


Market Access Procedures

International Conventions
Member of World Trade Organisation
Party to the Kyoto Protocol
Party to the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
Party to the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and Their Disposal
Party to the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer
Party to the Wassenaar Arrangement on Export Controls For Conventional Arms and Dual-Use Goods and Technologies
Party of the International Coffee Agreement 2001
Main International Economic Cooperation
Member of the UMA (Arab Maghreb Union)
Bilateral agreements with the European Union.
The country is also part of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA), a pact of the Arab League entered into force in January 2005 which aims to form an Arabic free trade area.
Non Tariff Barriers
Although Tunisia liberalized its import regime during negotiations with the WTO, a certain number of restrictions still exist. About 3% of goods need an import license (agricultural products, automobiles, textiles) issued by the Ministry of Trade. There are also some quotas, especially for consumer goods in competition with local industry. To obtain these licenses, a certain number of documents are required, such as the commercial contract (or other equivalent document), as well as information about the contracting parties, the products, their origin and where they come from. The licenses are valid 12 months, in principle, from when the decision is made by the Ministry of Trade, which can, however, reduce this time for certain goods (but it can never be less than 2 months). The license can be partially used. It is not transferable.

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.

Customs Duties and Taxes on Imports
From 10% to 230%, according to the product.

Tunisia sometimes applies anti-dumping duties for which the basis and the reasons for application are not clearly defined and which can sometimes be considered as minimum prices for the calculation of Customs duties.

Customs Classification
Tunisia applies the Harmonized Customs System.
Import Procedures
Operators in the economic free zone and imports necessary for production in companies totally engaged in export are not subject to carrying out any foreign trade formalities.

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.

For Further Information
Directorate General of Customs
Ministry of trade and crafts
Ministry of development and international cooperation

Learn more about Traders, Agents in Tunisia on, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Reaching the Consumers

Marketing Opportunities

Consumer Behavior
The importance of information on goods: the Tunisian consumer has become demanding about information given on goods, their availability, competing products, their brand, their value for money, etc. 93% of Tunisians consider that in order to buy well, it is essential to have a certain level of information about the products available; 78% compare the quality of goods before buying; 65% like to have plenty of choice for their purchases.
The importance of the idea of a brand: the brand image is a fundamental part of the positioning of a product and the reassuring of the consumer. The reputation of the brand seems to be an important factor for 81% of people polled.
The importance of communication: the effect of a person's family or friends (58%) influences purchasing much more than advertising (26%).

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.

Consumer Profile and Purchasing Power
A new credit culture has sprung up, marked by a rapid change in the behavior of Tunisians who are adopting a means of consumption closer to that of more developed countries. Housing is the main source of debt in Tunisia. Tunisians look for novelty in products, the protection of the environment is beginning to interest them, and this is a new concept. The Tunisian consumer is rather impulsive and lacks maturity.
Consumers Associations
Consumer Defence Organisation (ODC) , Consumer Association
Main Advertising Agencies
Saatchi & Saatchi
Publicis Group

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Distributing a Product

Evolution of the Sector
Over the last few years, the modern distribution sector has seen in-depth development. In five years, three new international names have penetrated the market (Carrefour, Champion and Géant) bringing about substantial changes in consumer behavior. The emergence of hypermarkets, a new concept in full expansion in Tunisia, has undoubtedly contributed a lot to this.

In spite of the notable changes that the distribution sector has seen over the last few years, especially with the spread of supermarkets and the opening of hypermarkets, the market share of organized distribution is barely 12%. The sector remains dominated by the retail trade which is the essential element of the distribution circuit, especially in foodstuffs.

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.

Market Shares
Tunisian purchasing power declines as soon as you leave Tunis. That is why traditional small shopkeepers remain essential: they are often the only stores open in the provinces, with a wide range of choice of goods. Outside the provinces, mass marketing is gaining ground and was counted among the main actors in 2007. With a turnover of around 800M TND, the modern distribution sector makes 2% of GDP, a level which is far from that in European countries (23%).
In spite of the unquestionable evolution of the distribution landscape in Tunisia (with an average annual growth rate of 15% over the last four years), the sector presents a substantial growth potential.

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.

Organizations in the Retail Sector
Ministry of Trade

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Organizing Goods Transport

Main Useful Means of Transport
The public sector accounts for about 70% of transport sector production.

96% of Tunisian foreign trade is carried out by sea. More than 27 million tons of goods transit through Tunisian ports. The port of Radès has an important place in the national transport chain through its specialization in container traffic and rolling units (essentially trailer traffic). It carries out 22% of global traffic, 90% of the tonnage of containerized goods, 90% of the tonnage of goods loaded on rolling units, 92% of container traffic in TEU, 91% of the traffic of rolling units and 23% of ship traffic registered in all Tunisian commercial ports.

The airline company Tunisair carries one third of passenger traffic and half of goods traffic in the region. Around 45,000 tons of freight transit through Tunisian airports.

There are three motorways linking Tunis and M'saken, Bizerte and Béja. Road transport dominates land transport of passengers and goods.

The railway line Tunis-Borj-Cédria is the main line. The line Tunis-Sousse-Gabés has been electrified. More than 3.200 million tons/km transit through rail traffic.
Port of la Goulette
Port of Bizerte
Port of Gabes
Port of Rades
Port of Sousse
Port of Sfax
Port of Zarzis
La Skhirra
Monastir Habib Bourguiba (Skanés)
7 Novembre-Tabarka
Sea Transport Organizations
Ministry of Transport
Air Transport Organizations
Ministry of Transport
Road Transport Organizations
Ministry of Transport
Rail Transport Organizations
Ministry of Transport

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Identifying a Supplier

Type of Production
Tunisia has an industrial fabric composed of nearly 10 000 companies. Besides the traditional sectors, new sectors such as electronics, automobile assembly and the chemical industry are developing rapidly. The main industrial sectors in Tunisia are: textiles, leather and shoes, the agri-food industry, mechanics, electronics and the chemical industry. The agri-food industry and the textile industry represent respectively 28.9% and 21.9% of the GDP of the manufacturing industry. The contribution of the industrial sector to the Tunisian GDP in current prices is around 28%.

Business Directories

Multi-sector Directories
Eyoon - Business directory for several countries in Africa and in the Middle East.
Mediscom - Directory of Tunisian companies.
Tunisie industrie - Directory of industrial companies in Tunisia.
Tunisie Telecom - Find businesses in Tunisia.
Tunispages - Find a business in Tunisia.
Yellow Pages - Find a business in Tunisia.
Manufacturers Associations of the Main Industries
3 professional associations listed for Tunisia.
Trade Agencies and Their Representations Abroad
Agency for the Promotion of Industry (API)
Tunisian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CCI Map)
Enterprises Federation
Portal for Tunisian industry
Ministry of Industry, Energy and SMEs.
Tunisian union of industry, trade and handicrafts (UTICA)

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Last Updates: January 2015