2013 CCG FINAL.pdf
Although trade between Tunisia and the United States has been growing for the
last decade, accessing the Tunisian market presents some challenges for U.S.
companies. Geographically part of Africa but culturally more Mediterranean and
Middle Eastern, this former French protectorate has extremely close ties with
Europe. In 2012, 60.8% of Tunisia’s foreign trade was with Europe. These ties
have been reinforced by Tunisia’s Association Agreement with the European
Union (EU), which created a free trade zone for industrial products in January
2008. Tunisia is currently negotiating further agreements with the EU on
services and agriculture and they signed a deep comprehensive free trade
agreement in 2012.
Tunisia’s other major trading partner is Libya. The fall of the Qadhafi government
and security incidences disrupted trade temporarily during the course of 2011 but
trade has resumed in 2012 to its last five years average of $1.5 billion per year.
In 2012, total trade between the two countries increased from TND 1.455 billion
($1.015 billion) in 2010 to TND 1.786 billion ($ 1.143 billion).
Tunisia is a founding member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is
publicly committed to free trade and export-led growth. The government would
like to expand trade and investment ties beyond Europe, but the European
presence in the economy remains strong. The EU Association Agreement is
backed by significant European funding to support the Tunisian economy through
the transition period to an open market. So far, over 5,000 Tunisian companies
have taken part in the “Mise à Niveau” program, a national program aimed to
upgrade the industrial sector in order to make it more competitive. Tunisia’s
Association Agreement with the EU bars non-EU countries from certain major
tenders receiving EU financing.
Tunisia has free trade agreements with Libya and Algeria. In addition, Tunisia is
a member of the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA - Union du Maghreb Arabe), a
political-economic grouping of Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Mauritania, and Libya.
It is also a signatory to several bilateral and multilateral trade agreements,
including the Agadir Agreement, which is a free trade area with Egypt, Jordan,
and Morocco that creates a potential market of over 100 million people. Tunisia's
commercial ties with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have taken a leap forward
since 2006 with the announcement of plans by several Dubai-based companies
to invest some $20 billion in real estate, tourism, and commerce in Tunisia over
the next few years. However, the financial and economic crisis of 2008 and the
Tunisian revolution in 2011 disrupted the FDIs annual flux that averaged $750
million annually, two-thirds of which came from Europe. In 2012, FDI flows
reached $1.917 billion, registering an increase of 38.4% compared to 2010. U.S.
FDI flows excluding energy reached $7.36 million in 2012. In 2011, total U.S.
FDI decreased, as Tunisia's largest U.S. investor (in the hydrocarbons sector)
sold its shares in Tunisian operations to an Austrian company in late 2010.
In order to assist U.S. companies in gaining access to the Tunisian market, the
United States signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in
October 2002 to formally discuss bilateral trade and investment issues. Follow
on TIFA Councils were held in October 2003, June 2005, March 2008, and
March 2012. The United States and Tunisia are also poised to begin