Tunisia - Country Commercial Guide
Distribution & Sales Channels
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Tunisian law does not allow wholesale or retail marketing by foreign businesses.  The GOT restricts domestic market distribution to Tunisian nationals.  Every joint venture with a foreign investor is considered an exception subject to a license dependent on the benefits of the project to the Tunisian economy.  For example, licenses were necessary for the opening of foreign-branded hyper/supermarkets established under joint ventures, such as Carrefour, Géant, and Monoprix.  In June 2021, the GOT announced the elimination of government authorization requirements for ventures such as the opening of shopping malls and supermarkets.

Although the traditional distribution network, based on over 293,000 neighborhood grocery shops scattered throughout the country, continues to dominate the Tunisian market, modern distribution channels are growing rapidly.  Hypermarkets now represent 22% of the Tunisian retail sector, and the GOT’s stated goal is to increase the level to 25% in 2030.  Currently, there are more than 900 modern food retail outlets, including hypermarkets, supermarkets, and ‘superettes’ (self-service food outlets of less than 500 square meters).  Fresh fruits and vegetables as well as seafood products are also sold in local outdoor markets.

Merchandise distribution in Tunisia is well organized.  Ninety percent of Tunisia’s foreign commercial trade is conducted by sea.  Most incoming and outbound trade passes through Rades Port, the country’s principal container facility, which handled 51.8% of the country’s container (twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU)) traffic in 2021.  The port of Sfax, Tunisia’s second-largest city and a large commercial center handles about 20%of the container traffic.  Other active ports are Sousse, Gabes, Skhira, Bizerte, and Zarzis.  The port of Skhira specializes in petroleum transport.  The ports of Bizerte and Zarzis have associated free-trade zones.  The state-owned enterprise Compagnie Tunisienne de Navigation (CTN)is the principal shipping company in Tunisia.  The Tunisian Port Authority (OMMP) oversees the management of ports. 

The major freight center at Tunis-Carthage Airport handles 97% of the country’s air freight.  Tunisia enjoys a fairly advanced network of roads and railways to facilitate transportation and distribution to all parts of the country.