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Trade Profile

In this page: Foreign Trade in Figures | Trade Compliance | Standards

 

Foreign Trade in Figures

Tunisia has an open economy in which foreign trade represents 93% of its GDP in 2015 (World Bank). Until the 2011 crisis, the country pursued a policy of economic opening and signed an association agreement (summary in French) with the European Union, removing tariff and trade barriers on most goods. It also signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with the United States, which will later become a free-trade agreement.

Tunisia's trade balance is structurally negative. After declining in 2015, due to a sharp decrease in imports, the trade deficit increased radically in 2016. In fact, Tunisia had experienced a huge boost in sales of farming products (especially olive oil) coupled with a decline in the cost of energy imports due to low oil prices in 2015. Both trends ebbed away in 2016. Olive oil exports fell after a bad harvest in 2015, whilst phosphate exports were paralysed by social unrest on production sites.  Finally, imports of consumer products increased.

Tunisia's main import and export partners are the European Union and China. Cross-border trade is threatened by the chaotic situation in Libya. France remains its first supplier and customer. Tunisia's main export goods are textiles and leather, mechanical and electrical products, food products and energy products. The country imports raw and semi-finished materials, equipment goods, consumption goods (other than food) and financial and insurance services.

 
Foreign Trade Indicators 20122013201420152016
Imports of Goods (million USD) 24,47124,26624,82820,22119,462
Exports of Goods (million USD) 17,00717,06016,75614,07313,572
Imports of Services (million USD) 2,9893,1393,1122,5903,002
Exports of Services (million USD) 4,7544,5774,5553,0223,136
Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 13.15.2n/an/an/a
Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change) 9.36.7n/an/an/a
Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 58.657.156.651.651.0
Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP) 49.447.745.640.740.2
Trade Balance (million USD) -6,031-5,836-6,562-4,945n/a
Foreign Trade (in % of GDP) 108.0104.8102.192.391.2

Source: World Trade Organisation (WTO) - 2017; World Bank - 2017

 

Main Partner Countries

Main Customers
(% of Exports)
2015
France 29.3%
Italy 18.5%
Germany 10.5%
Spain 5.0%
Algeria 4.0%
Libya 3.8%
United Kingdom 3.1%
United States 2.5%
Belgium 1.8%
Netherlands 1.7%
Main Suppliers
(% of Imports)
2015
France 17.8%
Italy 14.9%
China 8.4%
Germany 7.3%
Spain 4.2%
Russia 4.0%
Algeria 4.0%
Turkey 3.9%
United States 3.1%
Ukraine 1.8%

Source: Comtrade, 2017

 

Main Products

14.1 bn USD of products exported in 2015
Insulated incl. enamelled or anodised wire, cable incl. coaxial cable and other insulated electric conductors, whether or not fitted with connectors; optical fibre cables, made-up of individually sheathed fibres, whether or not assembled with electric conductors or fitted with connectors 11.6%
Olive oil and its fractions obtained from the fruit of the olive tree solely by mechanical or other physical means under conditions that do not lead to deterioration of the oil, whether or not refined, but not chemically modified 6.7%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 4.5%
Track suits, ski suits, swimwear and other garments, n.e.s. (excl. knitted or crocheted) 3.6%
Men's or boys' suits, ensembles, jackets, blazers, trousers, bib and brace overalls, breeches and shorts (excl. knitted or crocheted, wind-jackets and similar articles, separate waistcoats, track suits, ski suits and swimwear) 3.2%
Electrical apparatus for switching or protecting electrical circuits, or for making connections to or in electrical circuits, e.g., switches, relays, fuses, surge suppressors, plugs, sockets, lamp-holders and junction boxes, for a voltage <= 1.000 v (excl. control desks, cabinets, panels etc. of heading 8537) 2.5%
Television receivers, whether or not incorporating radio-broadcast receivers or sound or video recording or reproducing apparatus; video monitors and video projectors 2.4%
Parts and accessories for tractors, motor vehicles for the transport of ten or more persons, motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, motor vehicles for the transport of goods and special purpose motor vehicles of heading 8701 to 8705, n.e.s. 2.2%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 2.1%
Parts of aircraft and spacecraft of heading 8801 or 8802, n.e.s. 1.9%
20.2 bn USD of products imported in 2015
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals (excl. crude); preparations containing >= 70% by weight of petroleum oils or of oils obtained from bituminous minerals, these oils being the basic constituents of the preparations, n.e.s.; waste oils containing mainly petroleum or bituminous minerals 7.6%
Petroleum gas and other gaseous hydrocarbons 4.4%
Motor cars and other motor vehicles principally designed for the transport of persons, incl. station wagons and racing cars (excl. motor vehicles of heading 8702) 3.8%
Wheat and meslin 3.0%
Motor vehicles for the transport of goods, incl. chassis with engine and cab 1.9%
Electrical apparatus for switching or protecting electrical circuits, or for making connections to or in electrical circuits, e.g., switches, relays, fuses, surge suppressors, plugs, sockets, lamp-holders and junction boxes, for a voltage <= 1.000 v (excl. control desks, cabinets, panels etc. of heading 8537) 1.7%
Woven fabrics of cotton, containing >= 85% cotton by weight and weighing > 200 g/m² 1.7%
Petroleum oils and oils obtained from bituminous minerals, crude 1.6%
Powered aircraft e.g. helicopters and aeroplanes; spacecraft, incl. satellites, and suborbital and spacecraft launch vehicles 1.6%
Insulated incl. enamelled or anodised wire, cable incl. coaxial cable and other insulated electric conductors, whether or not fitted with connectors; optical fibre cables, made-up of individually sheathed fibres, whether or not assembled with electric conductors or fitted with connectors 1.6%

Source: Comtrade, 2017

 
 
 

Main Services

14.9 bn USD of services exported in 2014
Travel
47.56%
Transportation
23.31%
Construction services
7.62%
Communications services
6.72%
Other business services
6.62%
Government services
3.60%
Financial services
1.57%
Insurance services
1.19%
Computer and information services
1.02%
Royalties and license fees
0.57%
Cultural and recreational services
0.24%
10.5 bn USD of services imported in 2014
Transportation
47.08%
Travel
19.35%
Construction services
8.71%
Government services
8.18%
Insurance services
6.45%
Other business services
4.58%
Financial services
1.96%
Communications services
1.65%
Computer and information services
1.19%
Royalties and license fees
0.55%
Cultural and recreational services
0.29%

Source: United Nations Statistics Division, Latest Available Data

 

Exchange Rate System

Local Currency
Tunisian Dinar (TND)
Exchange Rate Regime
Flexible exchange regime since the enforcement of the law of 3 May 1993 amending the 1st article of the Exchange Code.
Level of Currency Instability
Seeing the evolution over the last two decades, the depreciation of the dinar is tending to take on a structural dimension and to give it the status of a weak currency. Since 2001, the dinar has depreciated at an average rate of 5% per year with a peak of 8.6% in 2003 and a drop of 4.1% in 2005. This depreciation can be felt through the growing increase in price of "popular" cars imported in euros. In relation to the dollar, the dinar has depreciated at a much faster rate (-9.6%).
 
 
Monetary Indicators 20112012201320142015
Tunisian Dinar (TND) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD 1.411.561.621.701.96

Source: World Bank - Latest available data.

 
 

Trade Compliance

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 2007
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.
Party of the ATA Convention on Temporary Admissions and Use of the Carnets
No

As a Reminder, the ATA is a System Allowing the Free Movement of Goods Across Frontiers and Their Temporary Admission Into a Customs Territory With Relief From Duties and Taxes. The Goods Are Covered By a Single Document Known as the ATA Carnet That is Secured By an International Guarantee System.
Look Up the Other Member Countries And Read the Web Pages of the World Customs Organization Devoted to the ATA Carnet.
Party of the TIR Convention
No

As a Reminder, the TIR Convention and its Transit Regime Contribute to the Facilitation of International Transport, Especially International Road Transport, Not Only in Europe and the Middle East, But Also in Other Parts of the World, Such as Africa and Latin America.
The UNCTAD Website Allows You to Read the TIR Convention, See the List of Member Countries And to Find Further Information.
Accompanying Documents For Imports
Importing is carried out under cover of an import certificate which must be domiciled with an authorized intermediate bank on the basis of a pro forma invoice. This import certificate is valid for 6 months.

Firm sale exporting with payment of over 200 D is carried out with a definitive invoice which must be domiciled with an authorized intermediate bank. These transactions are carried out entirely by electronic means.
Free Zones
Bizerte Customs-free area
Zarzis Free trade zone

The free zones are ruled by private companies but the land is owned by the government. Products from free zones exported to the Tunisian domestic market benefit from special tariff and are exempt from most of taxes.

For Further Information
Directorate General of Customs
Ministry of Trade and Crafts
Ministry of Development and International Cooperation
Non Tariff Barriers
Although Tunisia liberalised its import regime during negotiations with the World Trade Organization, a certain number of restrictions still exist. About 3% of goods, such as agricultural products, automobiles and textiles, need an import licence issued by the Ministry of Trade. There are also some quotas, especially for consumer goods in competition with local industry. To obtain these licences, a certain number of documents are required. These documents are the commercial contract (or other equivalent document) and  information about the contracting parties, the products, their origin and where they come from. The licences are valid for a year in principle; however, as the decision needs to be made by the Ministry of Trade, it is often less than a year. However, it can never be less than two months. The licence can be partially used and is not transferable.

The pharmaceutical industry is protected. All imports of pharmaceutical products are controlled by the Central Pharmacy of Tunisia. Additionally, agricultural products from Arab and North African nations have preferential tariff rates.

Sectors or Products For Which Commercial Disagreements Have Been Registered With the WTO
Agriculture, agri-food, industry.
Assessment of Commercial Policy
WTO information on Tunisia
Barriers to exchanges, inventoried by the EU.

Learn more about How to Export to Tunisia on Globaltrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

 

Standards

National Standards Organisations
National Institute of Standardization and Industrial Property
Integration in the International Standards Network
International Standards Organisation (ISO)
Obligation to Use Standards
Up to now, around 1,500 companies have already adopted ISO procedures.
Classification of Standards
National Institute of Standardisation and Industrial Property (NT)
International Standards Organisation (ISO) 9001
Assessment of the System of Standardization
Tunisian products are not all standardised. The Tunisian consumer does not yet appreciate products meeting international standards in spite of some advertising efforts on this matter.
Online Consultation of Standards
The ISO catalog
The NT catalog
Certification Organisations
National Institute of Standardisation and Industrial Property
International Accreditation Forum
International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation

 

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Last Updates: June 2017