Tunisia - Country Commercial Guide
Agricultural Sectors
Last published date:


Tunisia is a net importer of agricultural products.  In 2022, leading agricultural imports were wheat ($885 million), vegetable oils ($448 million), corn ($295 million), barley ($280 million), soybeans ($278 million), and sugar ($161 million).  The leading agriculture-related exports were olive oil ($803 million), dates ($243 million), fish products ($237 million), and citrus ($7 million). 

Tunisia applies an average import duty of 32% on U.S. agricultural exports.  In 2022, U.S. agricultural exports to Tunisia totaled $213 million, with soybeans and corn accounting for over 90%.   

Tunisia is a beneficiary of the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP).  However, legal authorization for the GSP program expired on December 31, 2020 and the U.S. Congress has yet to reauthorize it.  In 2022, Tunisia’s agricultural exports to the United States totaled $230 million, 91% of which was accounted for by olive oil and dates.  Tunisia supplies the United States with 16% of its imported dates and 10% of its imported olive oil.

In comparison with other countries in North Africa, agriculture plays a relatively modest role in Tunisia’s economy, accounting for 15% of the country’s workforce and 12% of the country’s GDP while growing at around 2% per year.  While larger agricultural enterprises are increasingly prominent, the sector remains politically sensitive and heavily regulated.  Due to historic and geographic reasons, the European Union heavily influences Tunisia on agriculture policy.  Tunisia also maintains significant market controls throughout the agriculture value chain, which, to some extent, limits growth and investment opportunities.  Public land may be leased from the government to private farmers or managed directly by the Ministry of Agriculture.  Foreigners cannot own agricultural land but may obtain long-term leases.

Leading Sub-Sectors

The Food-processing Sector

In 2022, the food-processing sector accounted for an estimated 1,200 enterprises that each employed 10 or more people.  Approximately 20% of these companies produce only for export.  The production value of this sector is around $12 billion annually and is continuously growing due to changes in eating habits toward consumption of processed products versus fresh ones.  The food-processing sector’s demand for imported high-value ingredients is steadily increasing, with more sophisticated products licensed by multinational food companies.  Cereals and cereal products, oilseeds, vegetable oils, and sugar derivatives account on average for 90% of Tunisia’s food imports. 

The Food Retail Sector

Over the last decade, the modern retail sector has seen in-depth development fueled by the expansion of modern distribution outlets and supermarkets through joint ventures with foreign investors.  These have mostly been with France.  However, the sector lost market share to boutique retail and mom-and-pop grocery stores due to temporary pandemic-related closures of malls and hypermarkets.  Pandemic-related movement restrictions have also fueled the growth of online food purchases. 

The Food Service Sector

In addition to domestic customers, this sector caters to the many tourists that visit Tunisia each year.  Most hotels and restaurants either source their food through annual tenders or through the same distribution channels used by households.  High-end hotels import spirits, wines, and specialty cheeses either directly or via import companies.   


The most significant market opportunities exist for goods and services supportive of the local agriculture and agro-processing industry, including soybeans and crude vegetable oil, feed grains and additives, modified starches, enzymes, genetics, grain silos, elevators, tractors, harvesters, irrigation systems, pesticides, and food processing/bottling machinery.  The GOT offers tax incentives of up to 50% under the 2016 Investment Law to encourage the acquisition of agricultural equipment.  From 2017-2019, the United States and Tunisia also agreed on multiple health certificates to facilitate new market access for U.S. bovine, caprine, ovine, and equine semen, day-old chicks and hatching eggs, breeding cattle, sheep and goats, beef, poultry, egg products, exports to Tunisia.  Consumer-oriented products with prospects to perform best in the Tunisian market include tree nuts, dried fruit, condiments and sauces, dairy products, cookies and crackers, chocolate and cocoa, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.  

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) (https://www.fas.usda.gov/) has an office in the U.S. Embassy in Tunis and may be reached at agtunis@fas.usda.gov.  Its reports, including an Exporter Guide, can be found online at https://gain.fas.usda.gov/#/.