Includes the barriers (tariff and non-tariff) that U.S. companies face when exporting to this country.
Tunisia is a founding member of the World Trade Organization (WTO). In February 2017, Tunisia domestically ratified the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and presented its instrument of ratification to the WTO in July 2020 for all categories A, B, and C. However, Tunisia has yet to communicate indicative and definitive dates under category B and is overdue in submitting notifications related to technical assistance requirements and support and information on assistance and capacity building (Article 22.3). Tunisia has also yet to submit two transparency notifications related to: (1) import, export, and transit procedures, contact information of enquiry points, (Article 1.4) and (2) contact points for customs cooperation (Article 12.2.2).
While maintaining restrictions on designated strategic sectors by requiring prior authorization, the Tunisian government has pursued a program of liberalizing imports. Approximately 97% of imports do not require prior authorization.
Tunisia has non-tariff barriers such as requirements of import licenses or quotas on certain products. These particularly apply to consumer goods that compete against locally produced equivalents manufactured by developing industries, or to goods for which domestic production is deemed sufficient. Two noteworthy categories affected by import quotas are agricultural products and passenger cars. Automotive import quotas are based to some extent on the number of Tunisian-produced automobile components utilized in the foreign manufacturer’s automobile designs. Importers have to request an allotment from the GOT in order to receive an import license. Although this quota system is only for cars with small engines, Tunisian consumers cannot freely import foreign vehicles privately due to strict foreign-exchange controls.
Working within the letter of WTO requirements, Tunisia vigorously protects its domestic pharmaceutical industry. All pharmaceutical imports are controlled by the Central Pharmacy, a government entity under the Ministry of Health.
Inconsistent procedures within Tunisian Customs can also be a major obstacle for importers. Importers have experienced extended delays in customs clearance due to required, but not uniformly enforced, technical and quality-control investigations on various items. Government use of non-tariff barriers has sometimes led to the delay or rejection of goods shipments to Tunisia. However, this is not common practice and is not aimed specifically at goods imported from the United States.
Agricultural products are generally subject to high import duties and in some cases face other import barriers, such as quotas. Tunisia often gives preferential tariff rates to agricultural products originating from Arab and North African nations.
For more information and help with trade barriers, please contact:
International Trade Administration Enforcement and Compliance