In this page: FDI in Figures | What to consider if you invest in Tunisia | Protection of Foreign Investment | Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment | Office Real Estate and Land Ownership | Investment Aid | Investment Opportunities | Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer | Finding Assistance For Further Information
In the context of social and political turmoil, FDI flows to Tunisia remain below their potential. According to UNCTAD's World Investment Report 2022, FDI inflows to Tunisia were relatively stable in 2021, when they totalled USD 660 million, from 652 million one year earlier. The stock of FDIs reached USD 33.4 billion, almost 72% of the country’s GDP. According to the latest data by the Tunisian Investment Office, in 2022 FDI inflows to the country recorded a year-on-year increase of 18.4% to reach an amount of TND 2.214 billion. The manufacturing sector as a whole attracted most of the investments (58.7%). Of these, the electronics sector alone accounted for 48.3%, ahead of the mechanical, metal and metallurgical (14.8%) and plastics processing industries (10.4%). The rest of the inflows were divided among the energy sector (22.2%), services (18.7%), and agriculture (0.4%). In terms of countries, France was by far the main investor (more than one-third of total flows), ahead of Qatar, Italy, and Germany. The regional distribution confirms a great disparity among regions: more than 53% of FDI is concentrated in the Greater Tunis regions (mainly the governorate of Tunis) and in the Northeast region (29.5%).
The key assets of Tunisia are its proximity to Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, free trade agreements with the EU and much of Africa and an educated workforce. In recent years, the Tunisian government had carried out necessary structural reforms to improve Tunisia's business climate, including an improved bankruptcy law, an investment code and an initial 'negative list' and a law allowing for public-private partnerships. The government adopted laws allowing to start a business more easily (more services are available via the one-stop shop, and fees decreased); registering property is now faster and more transparent and paying taxes is easier (implementation of a risk-based tax audit system). Nevertheless, there are still huge bureaucratic barriers to investment. State-owned enterprises are a major player in the Tunisian economy and several sectors remain closed to foreign investment. The informal sector, estimated at between 40% and 60% of the overall economy, is still a concern since legal businesses are forced to compete with smuggled goods. Moreover, the country is facing high political and social instability, unemployment, inflation, and rising levels of public debt. Tunisia ranks at 107th spot out of 177 countries in the 2022 Index of Economic Freedom and 70th out of 180 in the Corruption Perceptions Index.
|Foreign Direct Investment||2020||2021||2022|
|FDI Inward Flow (million USD)||652||660||713|
|FDI Stock (million USD)||37,955||38,933||39,467|
|Number of Greenfield Investments*||10||8||14|
|Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD)||479||276||409|
Source: UNCTAD, Latest data available.
Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.
|Main Investing Countries||2020, in %|
|Main Invested Sectors||2020, in %|
|Tourism and real estate||1.4|
Source: Tunisian Investment Agency, Latest data available.
According to the latest figures from the US Department of State, more than 3,350 foreign companies currently operate in Tunisia. For some examples, consult the “Success Stories” section of the website of the Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA).
Advantages for FDI in Tunisia:
Disadvantages for FDI in Tunisia:
Tunisia has free trade zones (known as Parcs d’Activités Economiques) in Bizerte and in Zarzis, where companies are exempt from taxes and customs duties and benefit from unrestricted foreign exchange transactions. The production in these zones has limited duty-free entry into Tunisia for the purpose of transformation and re-export.
Further information is available on the Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA) website.
|Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors||Tunisia||Middle East & North Africa||United States||Germany|
|Index of Transaction Transparency*||6.0||6.4||7.0||5.0|
|Index of Manager’s Responsibility**||7.0||4.8||9.0||5.0|
|Index of Shareholders’ Power***||5.0||4.7||9.0||5.0|
Source: The World Bank - Doing Business, Latest data available.
Foreign investment is classified into two categories:
Business operating in the free-trade zones are exempt from taxes and customs duties and benefit from unrestricted foreign exchange transactions, as well as limited duty-free entry into Tunisia of inputs for transformation and re-export.
Furthermore, there are two "regional development zones" which enjoy tax incentives, coverage of infrastructure costs and exemptions from the Vocational Training Tax (TFP). For more information visit the dedicated page on the Foreign Investment Promotion Agency website.
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Latest Update: September 2023