Describes bilateral and multilateral trade agreements that this country is a party to, including with the United States. Includes websites and other resources where U.S. companies can get more information on how to take advantage of these agreements.
Approximately 70% of Tunisia’s trade is with the European Union, and Tunisia’s most significant free-trade agreement is its Association Agreement on industrial goods with the EU, formally ratified in 1996. The free-trade zone with the EU was effectively implemented in 2008 after a gradual lowering of tariffs to zero over a 12-year period. In late 2011, the EU announced it would pursue a “deep and comprehensive free-trade agreement” with Tunisia. As of June 2020, negotiations are still ongoing.
Tunisia has signed a number of agreements to facilitate trade and to guarantee investments and trade in goods. The Agadir Agreement, a framework agreement with Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco signed in 2004, allows free trade among the signatory countries. Tunisia has separate bilateral free-trade agreements with Algeria and Libya, but trade with Algeria is still low, while trade with Libya has dropped precipitously since the Arab Spring. Algeria and Libya accounted for only 4% and 1% of Tunisia’s total trade, respectively, in 2018. Tunisia is also a member of the Arab Maghreb Union (AMU), which consists of Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Libya.
Although mainly a political organization, the AMU nominally allows duty-free trade among members, but some barriers to trade remain. In March 2019, Tunisia’s Parliament ratified the country’s official accession to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA, a joint free-trade area with twenty member states stretching from Libya to Swaziland). Moreover, Tunisia is seeking membership in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), and is a signatory of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Although Tunisia and Libya agreed in 2010 to remove all administrative and financial obstacles that hinder the movement of goods and people, both countries’ subsequent revolutions and continued unrest in Libya have disrupted progress. In 2018, Tunisian exports to Libya increased by 37.6% from 2017, while imports from Libya increased by 58%. Tunisia is a net importer of oil, and prior to the 2011 revolution, it sourced about 25% of its crude oil from Libya at a preferential price.