The Tunisian economy, among the most competitive economies in Africa and the Arab world, offers businesses a better environment than that in the main competitor countries.
The education level of the active population, the sound macroeconomic management and the quality of public institutions are particularly favorable to business competitiveness.
The World Bank Report « Doing Business 2015 » which highlights the factors determining the ease of doing business, ranks Tunisia 60th out of a total of 189 countries
Tunisia ranks ahead of North African countries and even outperforms a number of developed and emerging countries.
Favorable FDI Destination
Foreign investment culture in Tunisia is not new. In the 1970s, a large number of foreign companies started settling in the country which became a key offshore destination.
Today, about 3,200 foreign companies have settled in Tunisia providing over 340,000 jobs. In a business environment similar to that of many countries of southern Europe, they enjoy more attractive incentives.
During 2014, foreign investment (all sectors included) reached amounted to 1,878 M TND.
Located at the junction of the eastern and western basin of the Mediterranean, and only 140 km from Europe, Tunisia enjoys a privileged geographical position which makes it a regional hub for investment as well as for trade and production.
Within less than three hours flying time from European capitals and major cities of the Middle East, Tunisia is at the heart of the Euro-Mediterranean logistic chain.
It is also the favorite destination for those who decide to access a market of 800 million consumers.
A Regional Hub
Tunisia is a preferred site for investors wishing to serve neighboring markets like the Algerian and Libyan markets. It is also a regional platform to cover on the one hand, the European countries and on the other hand, African countries as well as the Arab Gulf States enjoying strong growth and high purchasing power.
Preferential Access to Several Markets
Tunisia benefits from reduced tariffs granted under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), which promotes the integration of countries into the multilateral trading system and contributes to promoting development through trade.
The GSP covers a wide range of exported products mainly manufactured, agricultural and craft goods with the United States, Canada, Japan, Switzerland and Australia.
Tunisia also enjoys preferential access to markets in several African countries in the framework of bilateral agreements.
ICT Development Strategy
• Ensure social inclusion and reducing the digital divide by improving access to information and knowledge, by the democratization of access equipment as well as the spread of high speed broadband access and the implementation of the very high speed broadband.
• Implement digital culture by the widespread use of ICT in educational curricula and content digitization.
• Move towards an e-Government service-minded, fair, transparent, agile and efficient.
• Ensure the reduction of unemployment, boost quality job creation in the digital areas and Offshoring and the creation of national champions.
• Support the creation of added value, guarantee of sustainability of organizations and jobs, by supporting entrepreneurship and stimulating innovation.
• Improve business competitiveness in any sector, through investment in ICTs and digital economy positioning.
• Successful transition of Tunisia to ‘going digital’ via the establishment of a regulatory framework, governance and a suitable safe environment.
The quality of Tunisian infrastructure is a major asset for the country and contributes fully to the development of its industrial fabric.
Tunisia is pursuing its investment efforts to improve its road and rail connections and its air transport. Similarly, it works to modernize port facilities.
Tunisia has nine international airports covering its entire territory. The most important airport is Tunis-Carthage.
About a hundred foreign airlines provide more than 2,000 weekly flights from Tunisia to Europe.
The existing telecommunication network in Tunisia is considered among the most developed and most performing in the region and Tunisia aims to become, by 2018, an international digital destination under the National Strategic Plan "Digital Tunisia 2018", aimed at consolidating and strengthening the use of ICT in all fields of activities.
Foreign companies can set up communication links to virtually all parts of the world at competitive costs through modern and fully digitized networks using optical fibres, SDH, ATM, ADSL and other extended wireless bandwidths, that can provide large capacities and high speeds for voice and data transmission.
Communication infrastructure for landlines[h1] , mobile and satellite telephony [h2] provided by the three national phone companies and Internet service providers offer a comprehensive and diversified range of local and international audio, video and data services as well as other advanced communication services.
The Tunisian telecommunication network includes:
• 4 : Telecom Operators among which two are virtual[h3]
• 7% : Contribution of ICT sector in Added Value market activities
• 11.6 : Rate of ICT Growth
• 4.9 : ICT Invest / Global Invest (%)
• 15.4 million : Number of subscribers to fixed and mobile telephone networks
• 137.8% : Total telephone density (fixed and mobile)
• 129.1% : Mobile telephone density
• 21.2 : Number of computers per 100 inhabitants
• 166 : Capacity of international Internet bandwidth (Gb/s)
• 51.7 : Number of Internet users per 100 inhabitants
• 98.8% : Percentage of subscribers to high speed broadband network
• 69.2% : Percentage of mobile internet subscribers (3G dongle)
• 52,990 : Total number of students enrolled in ICT courses
• 16.0% : Percentage of students enrolled in ICT courses
• 12,446 : Total number of ICT graduates
In Tunisia, the competitiveness clusters are designed for activities in the field of training, scientific and technological research on the one hand, and the areas of production and technological development on the other, in a variety of fields.
The eleven operational techno parks are spread over several regions and cover the following areas:
Ariana : Information and communication technologies
Borj Cédria : Plant biotechnology, renewable energy, environment
Sidi Thabet : Engineering applied to health & pharmaceutical industries
Sousse : Mechanical and electrical industries and IT
Sfax : Information and communication technologies
Monastir : Textiles and clothing
Bizerte : Food industry
Gafsa : Industrial & technological activities, services
Gabès : Environmental industry & environmental Technology
Manouba : Textiles and clothing
Médenine : Exploitation and enhancement of natural resources of the Sahara
Tunisia also has fifteen cyber parks covering various specialties.
The activities of cyber parks focus on the development of software, website maintenance and creation and services related to remote communication technologies (ICT) and call centres. These cyber parks also work as incubators for businesses operating in ICT.
A pool of expertise
A Performing Education System
Pioneer in the field of education in the MENA area, Tunisia devotes 7 % of its GDP to the development of its education system, representing more than the average allocated in OECD countries.
According to the Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015 (World Economic Forum), highlighting the strengths of competitiveness, Tunisia is ranked 32nd out of a total of 144 countries in terms of education quality in math and science. Tunisia hence ranks on top of North African countries and even ahead of developed countries and certain emerging countries.
In line with modern educational methods, Tunisia is one of the first countries in North Africa and the Arab countries to engage in the field of distance education and e-Learning.
The education system in Tunisia is[h1] :
Tunisia has qualified, competitive and successful human resources at all levels. Always in line with the needs of businesses, they represent a rich pool of talent constituting one of the major assets of the country through their bilingualism, their sense of adaptation and their creativity.
Tunisia is considered a talent geyser in the Mediterranean area with:
In terms of availability in the labour market of scientists and engineer, Tunisia is ahead of several neighbouring countries and is ranked 26th by the Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015 (World Economic Forum).
Many international companies already have centres of expertise in Tunisia: ST MICROELECTRONICS, ACTIA, ALCATEL, LEONI, KROMBERG & SCHUBERT, SAGEM, SIEMENS and ZODIAC EQUIPEMENTS TUNISIE… They employ hundreds of Tunisian engineers and executives.
Graduates of schools of engineers and Tunisian training centres are prepared not only to meet the growing needs of skills in the industry but also to collaborate with the business sector to develop the innovation and research of tomorrow's products.
The Tunisian economy is characterized by deep liberalization, greater integration into the world economy and more sustained competitiveness combined with an incentive regulatory and fiscal framework.
Since the early 70s, Tunisia has set up a regulatory framework for investment that provides:
Freedom of Investment
Foreigners can freely invest in all sectors under the Investment Incentives Code when the activity is totally exporting. They can thus hold up to 100 % of the project capital without authorization.
Investment in certain sectors other than those totally exporting is subject to prior authorization for both Tunisians and foreigners.
Certain activities can be subject to a simple declaration and others are submitted to prior approval. However, there are also activities that are governed by specific laws. A comprehensive list of all these activities is available in the Foreign Investor Code.
Simple Incorporation procedures
In order to facilitate the settlement procedures of foreign investors, Tunisia relies on the existence of clear, open and transparent procedures to ensure fair and impartial treatment of investors enabling significant savings in time and cost.
To this end, Tunisia provides foreign investors with a centre gathering all administrative and legal procedures necessary for the legal incorporation of a company: the one-stop desk of APII.
Protection of intellectual property
In Tunisia, the intellectual property is protected by the provisions of national legislation and by international treaties covering this field.
The registration of industrial designs, inventions and trademarks is made at the National Institute for Standardization and Industrial Property (INNORPI). Depending on its nature, the protection is effective for: