This profile of Tunisia and doing business there is an overview. From the drop-down menus at the top of this page, you can access a wide range of additional business information on Tunisia provided both by MBendi and by our clients and partners.
The first drop-down menu provides access to more detailed pages on the countrys economy, as well as to profiles of Tunisias major industry sectors, particularly mining and oil and gas.
The second drop-down menu allows you to access profiles similar to this one for other countries of the world.
The third drop-down menu allows you to search our various databases of Tunisian business information. This includes companies, organisations including government departments, personalities, projects and facilities.
Finally, the fourth drop-down menu allows you to access a range of Internet applications aimed at assisting you to conduct business more effectively.
The news headlines on this page are updated on a daily basis. You can click on Other News at the end of the headlines in order to get the countrys business news stretching back over several years. Because this overview is only updated every few months, you should use recent news items to build an up to date picture of Tunisias business environment.
Tunisia lies on the on the Mediterranean coast of Africa between Algeria and Libya and forms part of the North African Region. The countrys capital is Tunis.
Gabes and Kairouan are important towns. Ports are situated at Bizerta and Sfax.
Political parties in the country may not be formed on the basis of religion, race language or region. The President is the leader of the RCD which dominates politics in the country. According to their manifesto, they are committed to political stability as well as economic liberalisation. They have a large supporter base and face no real threat from other political parties.
President Ben Alis administration was responsible for many of the reforms to the countrys political and economic environment. After taking up office as the President, Ben Ali promoted a change to legislation that allowed lifelong presidency. Various measures have also been taken that make it easier for other candidates to compete for the presidency.
The women in Tunisia are considered by some to be the most liberated in the Arab world. Recent constitutional reforms made by the government have increased political and popular participation.
Tunisia enjoys healthy diplomatic relations with most countries. With regards to the west this is as a result of their role in the regions peacekeeping processes. They have often contributed to international peace efforts.
Relations with neighbouring countries continue to improve as trade flows between them increase.
Tourism is one of Tunisias key economic sectors and the country suffered in 2002 as a result of terrorist attacks. The global slowdown and a fourth consecutive year of drought also had negative effects for the economy. Despite this, international rating agency, Moodys raised the countrys investment grade rating in 2003 following the conclusion of the war in Iraq.
Other than tourism, Tunisia’s economic growth historically has been dependent on oil and gas, phosphates and iron ore, as well as agriculture.
In efforts to improve the countrys economy the government instituted measures in 2002 to deepen financial markets. One of these was the opening of a small share of the treasury bill market to foreign investors. The requirements for opening bureaus de change were also eased as part of this process.
Tunisia is presently experiencing a process of economic reform and liberalization after decades of heavy state direction and participation in the economy. Prudent economic and fiscal planning have resulted in moderate sustained growth for over a decade.
In 2002 Tunisias GDP totaled US$21.2 billion. If this figure is to be improved the government will have to relinquish control over the economy in the form of price controls and government ownership.
The government of Tunisia has actively engaged in combating HIV/Aids since the late nineties with the implementation of national prevention and awareness campaigns.
As a result of this early action, the disease has not had as serious an effect on the population as it has in many other countries in Africa.
Important sectors in the country include agriculture, fishing, mining, energy, manufacturing and tourism.
Within the agricultural sector, products such as olives, olive oil, grain, tomatoes, citrus fruit, sugar beets, dates, almonds, beef and dairy products are produced. In the country’s manufacturing sector, textiles, footwear, agribusiness and beverages are notably produced.
Tunisia actively encourages FDI for export-oriented industries. There are certain areas, however, where FDI is not encouraged, so as not to compromise local industry These include restaurants, real estate, retail distribution as well as other service industries.
Investors founding onshore companies need government approval if the foreign capital share is more than 49%. Foreign ownership of agricultural land is not allowed although it possible to lease for it up to 40 years.
The privatisation process in the country is progressing, although slowly. The initial sales in this programme were small viable entities that were usually sold to pre-selected Tunisian buyers. In an agreement reached with the World Bank, the government committed itself to the privatisation of larger assets. In conjunction with this, they also agreed to lower the very strict sales criteria of the past.
While the government has signed a free trade agreement with the EU, they have still been given leeway to protect domestic industries until the end of a period stipulated period. Under the agreement Tunisia will gradually remove barriers to trade with the EU over the next decade. Broader privatization, further liberalisation of the investment code to increase foreign investment, and improvements in government efficiency are among the country’s future challenges with regards to foreign investment. In 2008, Tunisia will be a completely associated member of the EU (comparable to the status of Norway or Iceland without all of the freedoms of the European Economic Area).
Tunisia was the first country on the southern side of the Mediterranean to enter into a trade agreement with the EU. As part of the agreement, a free trade zone was established. The implementation of this agreement should see a gradual phasing out of tariffs.
The country’s exports include textiles, mechanical goods, phosphates and chemicals and agricultural products. Tunisias main export partners are those countries that are members of the EU, though Libya is also a significant export partner.
Tunisia imports machinery and equipment as well as hydrocarbons, chemicals and food. Most of these commodities are obtained from EU states.
As of 2005, the country’s main trading partners have been France, Italy, Germany, Spain and Libya.
Communications and Infrastructure
Various assessments of Tunisias telephone network have stated that it is above the standards of most African countries. Internet access is also available.
The roads in the country are of a relatively good standard. Fuel in the country is cheap and fuel sources are readily available. The rail system is also good with regular and reliable services on offer to commuters.
There are various airlines that fly to the country directly from Europe. European cities are directly linked to the country. There are no direct flights between South and North America and visitors from these regions should take a connecting flight from Europe or from Egypt.
Entry to the country does not require a visa if one is staying for a period under four months. If one wishes to stay longer, a residence permit (which is valid for two years).
Tunisian dinars are only available inside the country. There is no limit on the amount of foreign currency brought into the country but if one wishes to take foreign currency out, it is necessary to fill in a currency declaration form on arrival.
The standard of medical care in the country is good although specialised care may not be available. English is not widely spoken which presents a potential problem if one has undergo medical treatment.
While the government does encourage investment in the country, there is legislation that limits ones business tenure in the country. Though not often enforced, Tunisian law limits the period of consecutive years of residence by a foreign employee to two years. The uncertainty regarding the enforcement of this law poses difficulties for companies and it is recommended that companies discuss the issue with the relevant government department as they proceed with their employment. It is possible to renew these permits but the bureaucracy is lengthy and in some cases can take up to eight months to process.
Tunisia has established an agency for the regulation of patents and trademarks. The National Institute for Standardisation and Industrial Property is the body through which it is necessary to register all trademarks and patents.. Although copyright laws have been modernised, their enforcement is somewhat ad hoc in nature.
Tunisia has a number of chambers of commerce and industry and details of these can be found via our Organisation Search, as can details of relevant government departments. MBendis Company Search allows interested parties to find details of many Tunisian companies.
The privatisation process offers some interesting opportunities for investors. The agreement entered into with the World Bank has been adhered to and the Tunisian government has not shown preference to Tunsian buyers.
The protection of property rights is guaranteed in principle by various government agencies in Tunisia. While their legislation is up to international standards, the adhoc enforcement of these laws results in risk for the potetial investor.
Although there have been some isolated incidents, such as the bombing of a synagogue in Tunis, political risk is relatively low, given the countrys geographical situation. As a liberal Arab country, Tunisia enjoys healthy relations with both Israel and Palestine.
The political situation in Tunisia is relatively stable. The election of the current president brought with it an unprecedented calm and stability.
The Middle East conflict is the primary source of concern as there is a possibility that this could have an effect on domestic politics in Tunisia.
African Development Bank, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, Islamic Development Bank, International Finance Corporation, International Monetary Fund, African Union, The World Bank Group, United Nations, Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, World Trade Organisation ::[ View All ]
Tunis Stock Exchange
Event Venues (4)
Foire Internationale de Tunis, Le Kram Exhibition and Conference Centre, Parc des Expositions et Centre de Commerce Intern, Tunis Conference Centre :[ Add More ]
7 November Field, Al Manzah Field – Tunisia, Alyane Permit – Tunisia, Anaguid Block – Tunisia, Ashtart Field, Bahloul Block C1 – Tunisia, Bargou Block E2 – Tunisia, Bazma Permit – Tunisia, Bechater Block N3 – Tunisia, Belli Field, Bizerte Refinery, Bougrine, Bougrine Mine, Boujabeer, Boujabeur Mine, Bouri Field, Cap Bon Marin Permit – Tunisia, Cap Bon Permit – Tunisia, Cap Serrat Block N2 – Tunisia, Cercina Field
|Accommodation (112):||Abir, Abou Nawas Boujaafar, Abou Nawas Cap Mahdia, Abou Nawas Diar El Andalous, Abou Nawas Hammamet, Abou Nawas Montazah Club, Abou Nawas Nejma, Abou Nawas Tunis, Acqua Viva, Africa El Mouradi Hotel, Aldiana Club, Alyssa, Barceló Sangho Club Zarzis, Barceló Sangho Privilège Tataouine, Barceló Sangho Village Djerba|
|Attractions (51):||Bardo Museum, Bir Barouta, Borj Ghazi Mustapha, Bou-Hedma National Park, Boukornine National Park, Bulla Regia, Carthage, Chambi National Park, Dar Ben Abdallah Museum, Dar Jellouli Museum of Popular Traditions, Dougga Capitol, Dougga Roman Theatre, El Feidja National Park, El Jem Museum, El Jem Roman Amphitheatre|
|Restaurants (20):||Tam Tam, Au Bon Vieux Temps, Baal, Blue Moon, Cafe Ben Yedder, Cafe Les Arcades, Dar El Jeld, El Farida, Guestile, Haroun, L’astragale, L’Oliveraie, La Marina The Captain, Le Grand Bleu Tunisia, Le Mediterranee|
|Transport related (13):||Djerba – Zarzis International Airport, Ksar International Airport, Monastir International Airport, Nefta International Airport, Port of Bizerte, Port of Gabès, Port of La Goulette, Port of Sfax, Port of Sousse, Port of Zarzis, Tabarka Airport, Thyna International Airport, Tunis-Carthage International Airport|