Tunisia - 1-Openness to and Restriction on Foreign InvestmentTunisia - Foreign Investment
Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment
The Government of Tunisia (GOT) has a favorable attitude toward FDI and is working to ensure a good investment climate in the country. The GOT prioritizes attracting and retaining FDIs, reducing unemployment, and encouraging investment in the interior regions. More than 3,350 foreign companies currently operate in Tunisia, and the government has historically encouraged export-oriented FDI in key sectors such as call centers, electronics, aerospace and aeronautics, automotive parts, textile and apparel, leather and shoes, and agro-food. In 2016, the sectors that attracted the most FDIs were energy (47%), electrical and electronic industries (17%), pharmaceuticals (6%), agro-food (6%), and ICT (5%). Inadequate infrastructure in the interior regions results in the concentration of most foreign investments in the capital city of Tunis and its suburbs (67%) and the eastern coastal regions (27%). Internal western and southern regions attracted 6% only of foreign investments despite special tax incentives for those regions.
The Tunisian Parliament passed a new Investment Law (#2016-71) in September 2016 that went into effect April 1, 2017. To encourage good governance of investments, the law provides for the creation of three major institutions: the High Investment Council, the Tunisian Investment Authority, and the Tunisian Investment Fund. These institutions are scheduled to be launched in 2017. Meanwhile, the Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA) continues to be Tunisia’s principal agency to promote foreign investments. FIPA is a one-stop shop for foreign investors; it provides information on investment opportunities, advice on the appropriate conditions for success, assistance and support during the creation and implementation of the project, and contact facilitation and advocacy with all other government authorities.
Under the 2016 Investment Law (article 7), foreign investors enjoy national treatment not less favorable than Tunisian investors for their rights and obligations.
Other Investment Policy Reviews
The WTO completed a Trade Policy Review for Tunisia in July 2016.
In November 2012, the GOT conducted an investment policy review (IPR) through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
The World Bank report Investing Across Sectors affirms that Tunisia has the fewest limits on foreign equity ownership in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The GOT has opened up the majority of the sectors of the economy to foreign capital participation with the exception of electricity transmission and distribution.
For most businesses, the Agency for Promotion of Industry and Innovation (APII) is the focal point for business registration. Online project declaration for industry or service sector projects for both domestic and foreign investment is available online.
While the online declaration process is clear and APII aims to respond within 24 hours, there are many additional steps that involve other government agencies in order to complete the business registration. APII has set up a one-stop shop which offers registration of legal papers with the tax office, tax inspection office, court clerk, official Tunisian gazette, and customs. This one-stop shop also houses representatives providing consultations from the Investment Promotion Agency (API), Ministry of Employment, National Social Security Authority (CNSS), Ministry of Interior, and the Ministry of Industry and Trade. The World Bank’s Doing Business 2017 study reports that business registration takes an average of 11 days and costs about $150 (325 Tunisian dinars).
A local business consulting firm estimates that this process can take up to 40 days and costs $500 on average.\
For agriculture and fisheries, business registration information can be found at this website.
In the tourism industry, companies must register with the National Office for Tourism.
The Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA) is the central point of contact for foreign investors.
The GOT does not incentivize outward investment, and capital transfer abroad is tightly controlled by the Central Bank.
Tunisia Economic Development and Investment Law