Discusses the distribution network within the country from how products enter to final destination, including reliability and condition of distribution mechanisms, major distribution centers, ports, etc.
Last Published: 7/14/2019
Tunisian law does not allow wholesale or retail marketing by foreign businesses.  The GOT restricts domestic market distribution to Tunisian nationals.  Every joint venture with a foreign investor is considered an exception subject to a license dependent on the advantages of the project to the Tunisian economy.  For example, licenses were necessary for the opening of foreign-branded hyper/supermarkets established under joint ventures, such as  Carrefour, Géant, and Monoprix.  Legislation designed to protect smaller businesses from such competition limits the number of hypermarkets authorized in a specific area.

Although the traditional distribution network, based on over 210,000 neighborhood grocery shops scattered throughout the country, continues to dominate the Tunisian market, modern distribution channels are growing rapidly.  Hypermarkets now represent 20% of the Tunisian retail sector, and the GOT’s stated goal is to increase the level to 50% in the coming years.  Currently, there are roughly 252 modern food retail outlets:  two hypermarkets, 150 supermarkets, and 100 ‘superettes’ (self-service food outlets with area less than 500 square meters).  Fresh fruits and vegetables as well as seafood products are also sold in local outdoor markets.  The creation of six more hypermarkets valued at $670 million is expected by 2022.

Merchandise distribution in Tunisia is well organized.  Ninety percent of Tunisia’s foreign commercial trade is conducted by sea.  Most incoming and outbound trade passes through Rades port, the country’s principal container facility, which supports 75% of the country’s container traffic.  The port of Sfax, Tunisia's second-largest city and a large commercial center, also handles a limited amount of container traffic.  Other active ports are Sousse, Gabes, Skhira, Bizerte, and Zarzis.  The port of Skhira specializes in petroleum transport.  The ports of Bizerte and Zarzis have associated free-trade zones.  The state-owned enterprise Compagnie Tunisienne de Navigation  is the principal shipping company in Tunisia.  The Tunisian Port Authority (Office de la Marine Marchande et des Ports) oversees the management of ports. 

The major freight center at Tunis Carthage Airport handles 97% of the country’s air freight.  Tunisia enjoys a fairly advanced network of roads and railways to facilitate transportation and distribution to all parts of the country.
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