Tunisia Market Entry

Tunisia Market Entry

Subchapters:

  • Market entry
  • Forms and conditions of operation on the market
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Issues of intellectual property protection
  • Public procurement market
  • Payment terms, payment ethics and resolution of commercial disputes
  • Visas, fees, specific conditions of travel to the territory
  • Employment of citizens from the Czech Republic
  • Fairs and events

Market entry

Industrial products of EU origin are not subject to customs duties, based on an agreement with Tunisia from 1995. The law on the state budget for 2022 also exempts from duty the import of raw materials, semi-finished products and other items that do not have a locally produced equivalent, which are intended for processing, or which are used to install or manufacture parts, accessories and other products. Check smber for agriculture and fishing facts of Tunisia.

A Czech company can participate in international public procurement tenders https://www.tuneps.tn/index.do, however, Tunisian legislation gives a clear preference to the Tunisian provenance of the offered goods or services, as long as it does not exceed 10% of the foreign price offer. Therefore, the path of partnership with a Tunisian company or the establishment of a local branch is to be considered.

Tunisian banks place strict restrictions on the opening of letters of credit for the import of consumer products considered non-essential, on the list of which the Central Bank of Tunisia has included a list of products that include food, household appliances, cosmetics, textiles, etc. Local banks are therefore not authorized to open letters of credit for these products, unless the importer first provides a guarantee from his own funds covering the entire value of the imported goods.

The new customs regulations for the importation of products into Tunisia from September 2017 stipulate that from 30 October 2017 the customs declaration of the exporting country will be in French. For some imported products, English or Arabic must be attached to the customs clearance file. The document to be provided from the EU is EX1.

Barriers to market entry

In addition to the above-mentioned exceptions, it is necessary to take into account other tariff and administrative measures, especially for the import of agricultural products that Tunisia itself exports. At the end of 2021, Tunisia introduced, through the 2022 Finance Law, an increase in tariffs on the import of certain goods, perceived as “essential” and goods that are also produced locally, not covered by the association agreement with the EU. The measure is proposed to limit the import of non-essential products and protect local production.

In recent years, non-tariff barriers for exports to Tunisia have been applied in the form of so-called technical controls (cahier des charges), which either slowed down trade operations or stopped them completely. The restrictions concerned marginal items of Czech interest (cosmetic products, soaps and cleaning products, textile products, footwear, sanitary ware, chandeliers and glass, toys). Under pressure from the EU, these unilateral measures, referring to the concluded EU-Tunisia Association Agreement at the end of July 2019, were rejected. In practice, the measure of technical control manifests itself in such a way that the customs office decides whether the goods are subject to technical control, stores the goods and waits until the result of the technical control is received.

Forms and conditions of operation on the market

Imports into Tunisia are systematized into non-formalized imports, temporary import permits and imports on an import certificate. Informal imports include postal items for the recipient’s professional use, imports to a fully exporting company, imports to a duty-free zone, imports of semi-finished products intended for further processing (up to 100,000 TD per year) and claims. Up to 6 months, this is a temporary import permit, approved by the bank on the basis of a pro forma invoice. The import certificate is approved by the Ministry of Industry/Trade and is valid for 6 months after it is issued, it can be completed continuously or in parts. Information on how to create it is available on the website of the customs office.

In the absence of a company representation in Tunisia, due to the frequent legislative changes in the area of ​​taxation of goods and related administration, consultations with a local partner or import service providers are recommended. The establishment of a local branch will favor the company’s position in terms of access to public contracts, in building an important network of contacts for possible joint ventures, but also in practical matters of importing to Tunisia. When setting up a branch, cooperation with an accounting consultant (expert comptable) is key, without which it is not recommended to start the process, even though the Tunisian authorities have set up a so-called “one-stop shop” or a center for administrative formalities located at the headquarters of the Agency for the Promotion of Industry (API) in Tunis, Sousse and Sfax. The reason is the lack of transparency of the legislation, especially the so-called circulaires (circulars) BCT. Ensuring the company’s presence has several main forms:

  • Sole proprietorship
  • Limited liability company (SARL): min. capital 1000 TND, 2-50 partners
  • Single Partner Limited Liability Company (SUARL): share capital TND 1000, 1 partner
  • Joint-stock company (SA): at least 7 partners, min. capital 5000 TND
  • Limited partnership (SCA): min. capital 5000 TND, one or more partners

Tunisia uses two investment regimes: “offshore” and “onshore”. Offshore investment generally supports goods and services intended for export only, although from 2022 up to 50% of the value of the goods can be claimed domestically. This investment category benefits from several tax breaks and other incentives. Onshore investments are mainly aimed at trade on the Tunisian market.

Marketing and communication

Numerous trade fairs represent a suitable first presentation of the product. The main trade fair site is located on the outskirts of Tunis in Le Kram, in the second most industrial agglomeration of Tunisia, in Sfax there is the second largest exhibition site, the trade fair calendars of both sites are listed in point The third exhibition area in Sousse focuses on exhibitions from the field of tourism. In addition to the ones mentioned, there are other trade fair centers in Tunis such as the Congress Palace, the Charguia 1 fairground or the UTICA exhibition pavilion.

The marketing strategy should follow the target group of the product. For example, young Tunisians are very active on social media (Facebook, Instagram). Both television and radio stations are very popular across society. Printed newspapers are increasingly replacing online dailies, but they are still widespread. The most famous communication agencies in Tunisia include: Access Content Agency, eDonec, Theway2tech, E Brand Digital, Pulp Ground, Attract Ground Agenc.

Issues of intellectual property protection

The issue of intellectual property protection falls under the purview of the National Institute for Standardization and Protection of Intellectual Property (INNOPRI) subordinate to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, INNOPRI cooperates with the World Organization for the Protection of Intellectual Property and the Office for Harmonization of the EU Internal Market. The legal framework for the protection of intellectual property in Tunisia is broad, including the protection of industrial property (inventions, industrial designs, integrated circuits, trademark, protected name and geographical origin). Problematic is the ever-expanding parallel market in Tunisia, which is based on smuggling and counterfeiting, represents a tax loss of million TND and affects 30-50% of all goods, in the area of ​​intellectual property protection, it affects digital culture products and counterfeiting of perfume brands, clothing and accessories.

Public procurement market

Public procurement in Tunisia represents approximately 13% of GDP and almost 35% of the state budget. Public contracts are managed by the TUNEPS authority, working under the authority of the government office. Orders are published in the form of advertisements in newspapers. The basic distinction is national and international tender. A foreign entity can only participate in the category of international tender, which is issued due to technological or capital needs.

Public contracts are published in an overview on the TUNEPS website, www.tuneps.tn, detailed access with the possibility of downloading the tender conditions is only possible after registration in TUNEPS. Registration is two-stage, first you need to get an identity, which will be provided by the National Electronic Certification Agency TUNTRUST based on company documentation and passport, www.tuntrust.tn TUNTRUST will issue an electronic key after checking the documents and paying the administrative fee. The second step is registration in TUNEPS, which is also charged and allows free access to all entries of already announced tenders for a period of 2 years. The technical part of the offer is submitted through TUNEPS, the administrative and financial part is usually submitted in writing together with proof that a refundable security deposit of the specified amount has been submitted, without which participation in the tender is not possible. The opening of the envelopes is open to all who submitted a bid. The submitted offer remains valid for 120 days, after which a contractual relationship is concluded with the tender winner and the refundable deposit is returned to all participants. The winner of the tender submits a definitive deposit, which is released after the full scope of the contract has been fulfilled, from the refundable deposit, penalties for delays and other penalties for failure to meet technical parameters as well as liquidation of claims within the warranty period are paid. The final guarantee is released after a meeting of a two-stage commission, the first commission is at the level of the contracting authority and the second is the national public procurement commission, both of them check the proper fulfillment of the subject of delivery and based on the invoice issued by the solver in the amount of the final deposit (after deduction of any penalty), the invoice is in the amount of the definitive guarantee has been repaid by the client and the contractual relationship is settled and concluded.

Public contracts in the field of defense and security are a completely separate chapter in Tunisia, which take place in the form of contacting a competent solution provider, therefore it is useful to “make yourself known” with the help of the embassy.

Payment terms, payment ethics and resolution of commercial disputes

Payment morality depends on the character of the business partner. The difficult economic situation causes frequent delays in the payment of invoices by state-owned enterprises. Payments do eventually occur after the ER, though often with a long delay.

Local laws prohibit the export of foreign currency from Tunisia to pay for imports before presenting bank documents confirming that the goods have been shipped to the country.

Disputes are resolved by mediation with the aim of finding an agreement, the mediation authority is the relevant chamber of commerce, another option is the arbitration mechanism of the World Bank ICSID (International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes), then it is an institutionalized international commercial arbitration. However, law enforcement is weak in Tunisia and the state authorities always prefer a domestic company, therefore it is necessary to choose a business partner very well, because winning in a court case is not yet a guarantee that there will be rectification in the form of financial compensation. The situation is further complicated by the inconvertibility of the Tunisian dinar and the monopoly of the Central Bank of Tunisia for foreign exchange transactions.

Visas, fees, specific conditions for traveling to the territory

A visa is not required for a stay of up to 90 days; for a longer stay, a visa and a residence card issued by the Ministry of the Interior are mandatory. Arbitrarily exceeding the length of the permitted stay is punishable by a fine upon departure from the country. Documents required to grant a residence permit for more than 90 days: http://www.sicad.gov.tn/Fr/Prestation_Octroi-de-la–carte-de-sejour-pour-etrangers_57_3_D1024 . Updated travel conditions are available on the website of the Tourist Office in Tunis: https://www.mzv.cz/jnp/cz/encyklopedie_statu/afrika/tunisko/cestovani/index.html

Tunisian dinars are obtained by exchanging in an exchange office, the exchange confirmation must be kept for the exchange of unused currency back into currency, as the export of Tunisian dinars is not allowed. Dinars can be obtained by withdrawing from an ATM, however, the slip issued by the ATM does not replace the exchange confirmation and therefore cannot be used to exchange unspent dinars back.

Any import or export of foreign currency equal to or greater than TND 20,000 (approx. USD 6,580) is subject to customs declaration upon entry and during transit. Currency declaration is subject to a tax stamp of 10 dinars regardless of the declared amount. Travelers who are not residents of Tunisia cannot re-export an amount greater than TND 5,000 in foreign currency in banknotes that they have imported without a declaration duly stamped by customs. In case of exceeding the consideration of 30,000 TND must be re-exported by authorized financial and banking institutions. The import declaration in foreign currency is valid for 3 months from the date of entry of the traveler who is not a resident of Tunisia and can only be used for one trip. A currency import declaration is personal with respect to the person in whose name it is established and is non-transferable.

The use of payment cards at merchants, in restaurants and at gas stations is not widespread outside the capital city of Tunis, and when paying in hotels, it is associated with an additional fee.

A state of emergency has been in effect in Tunisia since the terrorist attack on the bus of the presidential guard (November 24, 2014), which has been continuously extended

Employment of citizens from the Czech Republic

There are certain restrictions on the employment of foreigners in private companies, especially at the level of company management. For example, fully exporting companies (the so-called off-shore regime) may employ a maximum of 4 persons of foreign nationality in management positions. Foreigners can start their own business or get a job with a non-governmental or international organization. Furthermore, it is necessary to distinguish situations where foreigners need work visas.

Foreigners not subject to the obligation of a work visa: entrepreneurs and employers up to 30% of the company’s employees (foreign or with foreign participation) may be foreigners, from the 4th year their number is reduced to 10%, but in any case their minimum number is 4. Next categories are employees in the field of mining, employees of non-governmental organizations and employees of non-profit organizations cooperating with the Tunisian government. These foreigners must apply for a residence permit and request its extension in time. The employment visa and employment contract covers unique professions not available on the local market, mixed marriages, joint venture workers, sports and arts workers, tour guides and animators.

Fairs and events

IADE – International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition

Focus: defense and aerospace industry

Date: 12-16 October 2022

Location: Djerba/Tunisia

EXPO SANTÉ, EXPO LAB

Focus: Health professions, medical and surgical techniques and equipment, laboratory equipment and materials, scientific research, biotechnology, agri-food, environment, mining and industry, construction, chemicals and petrochemicals

Place: Tunis, Le Kram

Deadline: 31 October – 3 November 2022

2022 SITIC AFRICA

Focus: Internet, intranet, IT, telecommunications, multimedia, audio and video technologies

Place: Tunis, Le Kram

Deadline: 6/2022

SIAT – Salon International de l’Investissement Agricole et de la Technologie

Focus: Agricultural machinery, food industry

Date: 12-15 October 2022

Place: Tunis, Le Kram

CARTHAGE 2020

Focus: Construction, construction machinery and vehicles

Date: 23-29 May 2022

Place: Tunis, Le Kram

NETWORK

Focus: textile equipment, machinery and equipment for production, weaving, finishing, spinning and hosiery

Deadline: 11/2023

Salon International des Composants Automobiles 2021

Focus: automotive components and accessories

Date: 23-25 ​​November 2022

Place: Tunis, Le Kram

Festival de la porcelaine

Focus: Decoration, furniture, lighting, stone, marble and ceramics

Date: 16.-25.12.2022

Place: Tunis, Le Kram

Tunisie Horeca Expo 2022

Focus: hotel industry, hotel equipment, agro-food industry

Deadline: 1/2023

Place: Tunis, Le Kram

IMPRESSION PACK, PLASTIC EXPO

Focus: Plastics, rubber, composites

Deadline: 11/2023

Place: Tunis, Le Kram

CLIMEXPO

Focus: Heating – air conditioning, construction industry

Deadline: 4/2023

Place: Tunis, Le Kram

HYDRAMED

Focus: Water management, construction – regional planning, environmental protection

Deadline: 4/2023 (postponed)

Place: Tunis, Le Kram

SIED EXPO

Focus: Clean and renewable energy, energy production and transmission, environmental protection

Deadline: 4/2021 (postponed)

Place: Tunis, Le Kram

MEDIBATE

Focus: Regional dimension, construction materials and equipment

Deadline: 10/2023

Location: Sfax

SIB Sfax Informatique

Focus: Multimedia, communication, informatics

Date: 23-17 November 2022

Location: Sfax

PPP – PUBLIC PRIVATE PARTNERSHIP AFRICA 2022

Deadline: 1-2 December 2022

Tunisia Business Export

Deadline: 8-9 June 2022

Location: Sfax

Tunisia Market Entry