The Tunisian economy, among the most competitive economies in Africa and the Arab world, offers businesses a better environment than that in the main competitor countries.
The education level of the active population, the sound macroeconomic management and the quality of public institutions are particularly favourable to business competitiveness.
Competitiveness by sector
In terms of international trade Tunisia is :
- 1st in the world for date exports
- 2nd biggest exporter of olive oil in the world after the European Union
- 7th largest producer in the world of phosphates and triple superphosphate
- 8th biggest supplier to the European Union and France’s 5th biggest supplier of apparel products
- 8th largest supplier of apparel products to the world
- About 12 million tons of goods composed of phosphate, building materials,building materials, food products, iron ore, zinc and lead are transported annually.
- 122 industrial zones covering an area of 4,000 hectares
- Two operational business parks (free zones) available to foreign investors (Bizerte and Zarzis–Djerba)
- 15 cyberparcs
- Several centres of expertise for international companies (such as SIEMENS, ZODIAC EQUIPEMENTS TUNISIE, SAGEM, etc.)
In terms of infrastructures Tunisia has :
- Eleven operational technoparks which cover the following areas
– Ariana: Information and communication technologies
– Borj Cédria: Plant biotechnology, renewable energy, environment
– Sidi Thabet: Engineering applied to health and pharmaceutical industries.
– Sousse: Mechanical and electrical industries and IT
– Sfax: Information and communication technologies
– Monastir: Textiles and clothing
– Bizerte: Food industry
– Gafsa: Industrial and technological activities, services
– Gabès: Environmental industry and environmental technology
– Manouba: Textiles and clothing
– Médenine: Exploitation and processing of Sahara natural resources
- Fully digitised networks using optical fibre, SDH, ATM, ADSL and other extended wireless bandwidths
- Three national phone companies which combine 50.7% Internet penetration rate
- A skilled workforce: more than 70,000 new graduates every year, of which 5,800 are engineers. The education system encourages the learning of foreign languages and civilisations
In terms of international opening Tunisia has :
- 5.6 million internet subscriptions
- Numerous trade agreements :
– a free trade zone with Turkey
– a free trade area agreement with EFTA
– a free trade area with Jordan, l’Egypt,et Morroco
– a free trade area with Libya, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and Iraq
– a plan to create the Pan-Arab Free Trade Area with 19 countries of the League of Arab States.
In terms of human capital Tunisia has :
- A skilled workforce: more than 70,000 new graduates every year, of which 5,800 are engineers
- An education system which encourages the learning of foreign languages and civilisations
In terms of investments:
- Foreigners can freely invest in all sectors under the Investment Incentives Code when the activity exports the totality of its production.
Subsidies and incentives are set up to offer an enabling environment for investors
More information: FIPA
History of Tunisia
Tunisia has been the cradle of great civilisations since antiquity. It was the centre of the Carthaginian Empire and is the direct heir to several successive civilisations: Berber, Phoenician, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, Turkish and French. The Tunisians have been shaped by these cultures through the generations, and the richness of this legacy is found in the country’s popular traditions.
Tunisia is a peaceful country that has not known war since the Punic Wars (3rd Century BC). In 2011 a popular uprising, called the Jasmine Revolution, which is considered the first revolution of the 21st Century, took place in a peaceful manner, remaining exemplary and unique in the Arab world.
The Tunisian people share noble values such as hospitality, tolerance and a zest for life, as well as a creative spirit, strong initiative, a determination to succeed and, above all, adaptability. In 1846, Tunisia was the first Arab country to abolish slavery. It developed a constitution in 1861, guaranteed women’s rights in 1956 through the enactment of the Code of Personal Status, granted women the vote in 1957, created a National Human Rights League in 1976 and, in 2014, adopted a new Constitution that is remarkable for its civilian character, with a state based on citizenship, the will of the people and the absolute rule of law. Tunisia has all the ingredients to be the Arab-Muslim world’s dove of freedom and the benchmark for democratic transition.
In terms of the population’s well-being, Tunisia is the leader in North Africa (2014 Social Progress Index). The country boasts a rich archaeological heritage, filled with treasures from the past, that extends an invitation to travel through time. The beauty and charm of the sites have been preserved and some, such as the Great Mosque of Kairouan, are listed as world heritage sites. Tunisia hosts numerous international festivals such as the Carthage Film Festival, the Tabarka Jazz Festival, the International Festival of Symphonic Music at the El Jem Coliseum, the Carthage and Hammamet Festivals, and the Sahara Festival in Douz. It also possesses an impressive tourist infrastructure: 800 hotels of varying categories, 350 tourist restaurants, five marinas offering 1,500 moorings and eight golf courses, as well as thalassotherapy centres in all the tourist spots that operate according to the most stringent international standards. There are plenty of public and private amusement parks and leisure venues, located in – and outside – the most popular tourist areas. In summer, the average temperature is 31°C. It has a Mediterranean climate in the north and on the east coast and a semi-arid climate inland and in the south.
Located at the junction of the eastern and western basin of the Mediterranean, and only 140 km from Europe, Tunisia enjoys a privileged geographical position which makes it a regional hub for investment as well as for trade and production. Less than three hours flying time from European capitals and major cities of the Middle East, Tunisia is at the heart of the Euro-Mediterranean logistic chain. It is also the preferred destination for investors wishing to access a market of 800 million consumers.
Favourable FDI Destination
The foreign investment culture is not new to Tunisia. In the 1970s, a large number of foreign companies started settling in the country, which became a key offshore destination.
Today, more than 3,350 foreign companies have set up in Tunisia, providing over 354,000 jobs. In a business environment similar to that of many southern European countries, they enjoy more attractive incentives.
During 2015, foreign investment (all sectors included) amounted to 2,365.9 million TND.