Tunisia – Country Profile

Tunisia – Country Profile

General Information

Official Name Republic of Tunisia
Capital Tunis
Land Area 162,155 sq km
Population 11.3 million (2015, IMF)
Currency 1 $CAD = 1.74 Tunisian dinar
National Holiday March 20th (Independence Day)
Language(s) Arabic, French, Berber
Largest Cities Tunis (1 Million), Sfax (945,000), Sousse (622,000), Kairouan (565,000)
Source: Economist Intelligence Unit, Bank of Canada (XE Currency Converter 07/06/2016)

Political Information

Form of State Parliamentary Republic
Head of State President Beji Caid Essebsi
Elections October 2014, next elections in 2019
Source: Economic Intelligence Unit

Economic Information

Tunisia Canada
GDP (PPP) $ 180 billion $ 2,188 trillion
GDP per capita $ 5,437 $ 60,085
GDP annual growth rate (2016) 3% 2.16%
GDP – composition by sector Agriculture: 10.4%Industry: 28.2%Services: 61.4% (CIA World Factbook- 2015) Agriculture: 1.6%Industry: 28.2%Services: 70.3% (CIA World Factbook- 2015)
Inflation rate – average consumer prices 4.9% 1.1%
Main industries Petroleum, mining (particularly phosphate, iron ore), tourism, textiles, footwear, agribusiness, beverages (CIA World Factbook- 2015) Transportation equipment, chemicals, processed and unprocessed minerals, food products, wood and paper products, fish products, petroleum and natural gas. (CIA World Factbook- 2015)
Note: 2015 data in Canadian dollars ($CAD)
Source: IMF World Economic Outlook, World Bank Data, CIA World Factbook, Bank of Canada (Currency Conversion 12/14/2016)

Political and Economic Stability

Tunisia’s political situation made steady progress in 2014 after the regime of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was overthrown in January of 2011. The country has rewritten its national constitution and voted in favour of a National Constituent Assembly (NCA) headed by a Prime Minister and President. The political transition resulted in a five-year term government in 2015. The cabinet is dominated by Hizb al-Nahda, the largest party in the NCA. This political stability meets the country’s security and economic challenges which brings more stable economic growth and opportunities in trade activities.

Following Tunisia’s political stability and new government established in 2015, Tunisia’s economic activity remained slow with a GDP of 0.8% in 2015 compared to 2.3% in 2014. This slow economic growth is due to social tensions and terrorist attacks. The beginning of 2016 saw an improvement in the GDP and is estimated to improve to in between 2% and 3% in 2017. The Central Bank of Tunisia’s robust monetary policies have also begun to slow the country’s inflation rate, which fell from 4.9 percent in 2014 to 4.85 percent in 2015 and is expected to continue to decline in 2016 and 2017. Despite Tunisia’s internal challenges and decreased foreign investment, the country has begun to transform its economy by targeting the promotion of agricultural, petroleum and mining exports. The country exports a wide range of products including electrical equipment, oils, textile, apparel and machinery which is destined primarily to a European market. The country has signed Free Trade Agreements with the European Union, EFTA, GAFTA and other Middle Eastern countries. Tunisia’s total exports to Canada have increased by 10% from 2014 to 2015, whereas the country’s total exports to all countries decreased by 1% from 2014 to 2015.

Tunisia’s Bank staff projections suggest that poverty has declined from 7.6% in 2013 to 7.1% in 2015 using a poverty line of US$ 3.10. This decline in poverty is a result of the government’s focus on social stability and control over inflation and the country’s focus on economic development following the political transition. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, total enrollment in primary education, regardless of age, was 111.3 in 2013 and had steadily increased since 2008.


Global Affairs Canada recommends that Canadians exercise a high degree of caution when traveling in Tunisia due to the nationwide risk of civil unrest and terrorist attacks. In particular, the Canadian government advises against all travel to the Chaambi Mountain National Park area, the Tunisian border with Algeria and Libya, and the militarized zone in the Tatouine Governorate. For detailed and up-to-date information on travel security, please refer to the DFATD Travel Report for Tunisia.

Trade Information

Trade Partners & Direction 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Average Yearly Growth
Tunisia Exports to the World 17,636,104 16,997,489 17,562,255 18,495,821 17,957,392 0.50%
Tunisia Exports to United States 273,313 326,018 409,141 268,680 451,189 13%
Tunisia Exports to Canada 53,029 51,149 319,888 74,452 85,260 13%
Canadian Exports to Tunisia 101,898 136,883 107,085 91,861 127,109 6%
Source: Trade Data Online (Innovations, Science and Economic Development Canada), Trade Map (International Trade Centre), World Integrated Trade Solution (World Bank)
Excluding mineral products (HS2 Codes 26-27 and 71-80)
Source: International Trade Centre Trade Map
Excluding mineral products (HS2 Codes 26-27 and 71-80)
Source: Industry Canada Trade Data Online

Business Climate

The World Bank’s annual Doing Business report ranks economies from 1 to 183 (with 1 being the best) on their ease of doing business. In the 2017 report, Tunisia ranked 77 overall and 92 for Trading Across Borders, which measures the ease with which a standardized shipment of goods can be imported or exported across its borders. The average time to ship goods out of Tunisia was lower than the regional average at approximately 50 hours, with an estimated cost of CAD $600 per 20-foot container. To complete the export process, only five forms of documentation are required: A bill of lading, a commercial invoice, a customs export declaration, a certificate of origin and an export certificate.

Although there are many reputable exporters in Tunisia, Canadian importers should be aware that corruption could be an issue when doing business in the country. Tunisia ranked 76 out of 168 in Transparency International’s 2015 Corruption Perceptions Indexwhere 1 indicates least corrupt.  Canadian companies are advised to exercise strict due diligence before working with a company from Tunisia to ensure that it is a bona fide and reputable entity. It is suggested that Canadian importers commission a report by a credit information provider to verify the financial strength of the partner.

Sustainability Initiatives

Tunisia is the first Arab State to create a Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development. It works closely with the Ministry of Transport to create a safe and clean environment. Tunisia’s National Commission for Sustainable Development (CNDD) was established in 1993 for environmental protection which works towards national sustainable development policies. Joint efforts from the Tunisian Ministry of Environment and the European Commissions’ Horizon 2020, support a National Pact for Sustainable Development with Tunisian companies in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) best practices focused on local issues such as high unemployment and poor labour conditions. Many certified fair trade organizations are actively working in the country, for example Fairtrade International (FTA-NAN) based in Tunis which attracts Tunisian producers for fair trading business.

Trade Opportunities

Tunisia offers a wide range of products of interest to Canadian importers. Although olive oil represents almost 30% of products imported to Canada, Tunisia’s growing list of export products includes manufactured, agricultural and value-added items that would appeal to a North American market.

1. Olive Oil

Canada imported over CAD $24 million of olive oil from Tunisia in 2015, making it the second largest Canadian source of olive oil in the world after Italy. 58% of the Canadian olive oil market is imported from Italy while only 11% is imported from Tunisia. However, Canadian imports of olive oil from Tunisia nearly doubled between 2014 and 2015. Tunisia offers a wide variety of olive oils including Virgin, Extra Virgin, Ordinary, Refined and Olive-Pomace. Each variety is produced using different types of physical treatment, varying levels of acidity concentration (according to the International Oil Council trade standards), as well as a mix of consistency and flavors. Tunisia’s high quality olive oil products and derivatives satisfy all segments of international culinary markets. Consumption of olive oil in Canada has increased approximately 41% since 2012 and forecasts project increasing sales in upcoming years. Tunisian olive oil presents a range of products to satisfy this growing deman.                                                                                                                                                                                        
2. Textile & Apparel

Manufacturing of textiles and apparel is the largest industry in Tunisia and represents 21% of the country’s economy, including approximately 1,600 legally registered exporters who focus primarily on the European market. In addition to quality local producers, international companies own and manage approximately 40% of textile manufacturers in the country. After Morocco, Tunisia is the 2nd largest African country exporter of woven clothing and articles of apparel to Canada. Tunisia’s trousers and foundation garments are highly appreciated products in international markets, particularly in Europe.

3. Electrical & Electronic Equipment

Another major export to the world from Tunisia is the electrical and electronic equipment with 38% of Tunisia’s export market. Electronic products represent the 4th largest import to Canada and is valued at over CAD $12 million. In the first quarter in 2016, Tunisia`s export of electronic products to Canada increased by 8.2% which shows Canadian importers in this space are open to new markets.

TFO Canada Export Offers

TFO Canada provides an information service for Canadian importers interested in sourcing products from developing and emerging economies such as Tunisia. This includes practical advice on sourcing from developing country exporters, a customized news bulletin including new leads from Tunisia as they come in, and a searchable database for sourcing new products and suppliers. The chart below provides a rough idea of the number of supplier profiles from Tunisia, available online with contact information through TFO Canada’s searchable Supplier Database.

Industry Group No. of Suppliers in TFO Canada Database
Food Products and Beverages 35
Home Décor, Giftware and Crafts 3
Housewares and Hardware 1
I.T. Services (Including Software) 1
Office and Other Professional Supplies 1
Personal Care, Pharmaceuticals and Natural Health Products 2
Professional and Other Services 1

Upcoming Trade Shows

TexMed Tunisia (Euro-Mediterranean Clothing Show)
Takes place in October
Parc des expositions du Kram, Tunis, Tunisia
Industry: Clothing, Fashion & Textile

DarDéco (Decoration & Design Trade Show)
Takes place in December
Parc des Expositions et Centre de Commerce International de Tunis
Industry: Home Décor, Design, & Decoration

Salon du Meuble de Tunis (Furniture Trade Show)
Takes place in February
Parc des Expositions et Centre de Commerce International de Tunis
Industry: Furniture & Home Décor

Sport & Loisir Expo
Takes place in March
Soukra Expo, Tunis, Tunisia
Industry: Sports & Leisure

Contact Information

Tunisian Embassy in Canada
515 O’Connor Street, Ottawa, Ontario K1S 3P8
Tel.: 1 (613) 237-0330; 1 (613) 237-0332
Email: contact@ambassade-tunisie.ca

Tunisian Consulate in Canada
1255 boulevard Robert-Bourassa, Suite 300, Montréal, Québec, H3B 3B4
Tel.: 1 (514) 844-6909; 1 (514) 844-2342
Email: ctmontreal@bellnet.ca

Useful Links

Promotion Program for Tunisian Olive Oil www.tunisia-oliveoil.com/index.php
Institut National de la Statistique – Tunisie http://www.ins.tn/
Agency of the Promotion of Industry and Innovation of Tunisia www.tunisieindustrie.nat.tn/en/home.asp
Centre Technique Du Textile Tunisia (CETTEX) www.cettex.com.tn/index.php?id=5&L=2
Textile and Clothing in Tunisia www.textileintunisia.net/textile-sector.php
Foreign Investment Promotion Agency of Tunisia www.investintunisia.tn/site/en/home.php?id_article=848
Chamber of Commerce of Tunisia www.ccicentre.org.tn/index.php
Ministry of Industry www.tunisieindustrie.gov.tn/
Centre de la Promotion des Exportations (CEPEX) of Tunisia www.cepex.nat.tn/content/accueil#
Union Tunisienne de l’Agriculture & de la Pêche http://utap.org.tn/

Links to Cited Documents

Bank of Canada – Daily Currency Convertor www.bankofcanada.ca/rates/exchange/daily-converter
Canadian Trade Commissioner Service – Country Info www.tradecommissioner.gc.ca/eng/trade-offices.jsp
CIA World Factbook www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook
 Global Affairs Canada http://www.international.gc.ca/international/index.aspx?lang=en
Global Affairs Canada https://travel.gc.ca/destinations/tunisia
EDC (Export Development Canada) – Country Profiles www.edc.ca/EN/Country-Info/Pages/default.aspx
Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) http://country.eiu.com/tunisia
Innovations, Science and Economic Development Canada- Trade Data Online www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/tdo-dcd.nsf/eng/Home
International Trade Centre – Trade Map www.trademap.org
Transparency International – Corruption Perception Index http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview
World Bank – Doing Business Report www.doingbusiness.org/rankings
World Bank – Country information http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/tunisia