Identifies common practices to be aware of when selling in this market, e.g., whether all sales material needs to be in the local language.
Although Tunisia’s official language is Arabic, French is widely spoken in commerce. Many Tunisians also speak some English, Italian, and/or German. Business documentation should be written in French. Email remains the favored means of business communication among private companies. Tunisian authorities are increasingly using email for business communication; however, it is common for government agencies and some businesses to use fax and letters for correspondence.
Trade Promotion and Advertising
Marketing/advertising opportunities include sporting event sponsorship, industry-specific trade fairs, direct mail and email, outdoor/vehicle advertising, print media, and electronic media. Company sponsorship of television programs, particularly locally produced programs, is growing rapidly. Local print media in Tunisia accept paid advertising. Local attorneys or marketing specialists can advise foreigners on the acceptability of various aspects of a promotional campaign.
For marketing purposes, urban society in Tunisia is heavily influenced by European standards. Broadcast media have begun to saturate the listener and viewer markets. The state-run Tunisian broadcasting authority, ERTT, broadcasts three Arabic-language television channels. Satellite television is very popular, and many private radio and TV stations have launched in the past 10 years, particularly following Tunisia’s 2011 revolution. Radio Zaitouna, one of Tunisia’s most popular radio stations, features mostly religious content and often advertises Islamic services in Umrah (the shorter version of pilgrimage to Mecca), banking, and “takaful” insurance, a co-operative system of reimbursement in case of loss.
Foreign commercial television advertising is accepted, but under stricter standards than for print media. For advertising in newspapers, on websites, on private radio stations, and on private TV channels, the cost is equal for foreign or local-origin goods.
Legally, the dominant portion of any storefront sign must appear in Arabic. However, in practice, dominant French- and English-language signs are widely used. This policy is irregularly enforced.
Except for most subsidized goods, products in Tunisia’s urban markets are priced at levels roughly equivalent to or slightly below prices in major U.S. urban centers.
U.S. durable goods (e.g., machine tools and generators) are available on the Tunisian market and tend to be significantly more expensive than European or Asian models. While the base price for many of the Asian models is lower, the price advantage for European products is mostly due to the duty-free import of EU products into Tunisia under Tunisia’s Association Agreement with the EU, as well as European firms’ lower transportation costs.
U.S. suppliers of manufactured goods have appeared reluctant to deal directly with Tunisian distributors for a variety of reasons, including differences of language and business culture. Local distributors have expressed strong interest in eliminating the “middleman” European offices that have responsibility for regional market and dealing directly with American companies.
Sales Service/Customer Support
Tunisian consumers are becoming accustomed to after-sales services and frequently expect a high degree of customer support. Consumer protection in Tunisia is based on legislation passed in 1992 (Law 1992-117). A government-designed standard sales contract outlines requirements for retail and manufacturer product guarantees. This model contract was included as an annex to a 1999 law requiring specific clauses in all guarantees of electronic and household equipment. The law stipulates that technical instructions be provided in Arabic and French or English. The contract also serves as a warranty and includes a schedule of required reimbursements if faulty merchandise cannot be adequately repaired within 15 days of notification from the consumer. Application of this legislation is not uniform.
Local Professional Services
Although the Embassy is not authorized to recommend any particular individual or company, it maintains a list of local attorneys who have experience working with U.S. companies and interests in Tunisia.
Principal Business Associations
The following business associations accept U.S. company membership and are considered major players in lobbying for foreign and local businesses with the government:
- The American Chamber of Commerce in Tunisia (AmCham Tunisia)
- The Tunisian Association of Industry, Trade, and Handicrafts (UTICA)
- Tunisia Africa Business Council (TABC)
- Tunis Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIT)
- Arab Institute of Business Leaders (IACE)
Limitations on Selling U.S. Products and Services
All Tunisian citizens can own, buy, and sell U.S. products and services in the manufacturing or services sectors. No limitations apply.