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Tunisia

Executive Summary

Tunisia continues to make progress on its democratic transition and will hold its second round of parliamentary and presidential elections since the 2011 revolution in October and November 2019, respectively.  Tunisia’s economy experienced a modest recovery in 2018, with GDP growth of 2.6 percent, but the country still faces high unemployment, high inflation, and rising levels of public debt.  

In recent years, successive governments have advanced much-needed structural reforms to improve Tunisia’s business climate, including an improved bankruptcy law, an investment code and initial “negative list,” and a law enabling public-private partnerships.  The Government of Tunisia (GOT) has also encouraged entrepreneurship through the passage of the Start-Up Act. The GOT also passed the “organic budget law” to ensure greater budgetary transparency and make the public aware of government investment projects over a three-year period.  These reforms will help Tunisia attract both foreign and domestic investment.

Tunisia’s strengths include its proximity to Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, and the Middle East, free-trade agreements with the EU and much of Africa, an educated workforce, and a strong interest in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI).  Sectors such as agribusiness, aerospace, renewable energy, telecommunication technologies, and services are increasingly promising. The decline in the value of the dinar has strengthened investment and export activity in the electronic component manufacturing and textile sectors.

Nevertheless, substantial bureaucratic barriers to investment remain.  State-owned enterprises play a large role in Tunisia’s economy, and some sectors are not open to foreign investment.  The informal sector, estimated at 40 to 60 percent of the overall economy, remains problematic, as legitimate businesses are forced to compete with smuggled goods.

The United States has provided more than USD 500 million in economic growth-related assistance since 2011, in addition to loan guarantees in 2012, 2014, and 2016 that enabled the GOT to borrow nearly USD 1.5 billion.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 73 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview 
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 80 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2018 66 of 126 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator 
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2017 $279 http://www.bea.gov/international/factsheet/ 
World Bank GNI per capita ($ USD) 2017 $3,490 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD 

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Tunisia

Host Country Statistical Source* USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) 2017 $40,000 2017 $39,951 www.worldbank.org/en/country   
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical Source* USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2017 $253 2017 $279 BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data  
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) NA NA 2017 $19 BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data  
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP 2017 52.4% 2017 71.3% UNCTAD data available at

https://unctad.org/en/Pages/DIAE/World%20Investment%20Report/Country-Fact-Sheets.aspx  

*Source: Tunisia’s Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA) yearend December 2017.


Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Direct Investment Flows From/in Tunisia in 2018 (excluding energy)
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward $692.15 100% Total Outward N/A N/A
1- France $236.82 34.2%
2- Qatar $181.24 26.2%
3- Italy $58.35 8.4%
4- Germany $51.55 7.4%
5- UAE $33.27 4.8%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

*Source: Tunisia’s Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA) yearend December 2018.

*Tunisia was not covered by the IMF’s Coordinated Direct Investment Survey (CDIS).


Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Portfolio Investment Assets in Tunisia in 2018
Top Five Partners (Millions, US Dollars)
Total Equity Securities Total Debt Securities
All Countries $46.88 100% All Countries N/A All Countries N/A

*Source: Tunisia’s Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA) yearend December 2018.

*Tunisia was not covered by the IMF’s Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey (CPIS).

Investment Climate Statements
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U.S. Department of State

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