Tunisia - Selling and buying
Reaching the consumers
The importance of the idea of a brand: the brand image is a fundamental part of the positioning of a product and the reassuring of the consumer. The reputation of the brand seems to be an important factor for 81% of people polled.
The importance of communication: the effect of a person's family or friends (58%) influences purchasing much more than advertising (26%).
After sale services are more and more appreciated. Local customers are not very confident with new products and brands without a local representative. Direct marketing is not very developed.
In spite of the notable changes that the distribution sector has seen over the last few years, especially with the spread of supermarkets and the opening of hypermarkets, the market share of organized distribution is barely 12%. The sector remains dominated by the retail trade which is the essential element of the distribution circuit, especially in foodstuffs.
In Tunisia, the exclusive distribution contracts are prohibited. Wholesale and retail marketing is not allowed for foreign companies. To protect local business, hypermarkets need authorisations in some areas.
In spite of the unquestionable evolution of the distribution landscape in Tunisia (with an average annual growth rate of 15% over the last four years), the sector presents a substantial growth potential.
At the present time, the organized distribution sector in Tunisia hinges on three main actors:
- The Mabrouk Group, the owner of Monoprix since 1999. This group has rapidly set up an expansion strategy, both internal and external. In particular the group bought out the Touta chain in 2003 then bought the main outlets of the chain "Le passage". At the same time, the group went into partnership with the French group Casino, which allowed it to set up in the hypermarket segment (Géant). With a market share estimated at 36%, the Mabrouk Group, under all its names, is the leader in the sector.
- The Chaibi Group, which began in the hypermarket segment (Carrefour) and is growing in the supermarket segment under the name of Champion. The group recently bought out the Bonprix supermarket chain, which brings the estimated market share of the group to 31%.
- The public Magasin Général, which remains the leading supermarket chain in terms of number of outlets (43), with a turnover of 152.2M TND, below that of Monoprix. This firm, which has been put on the list of companies to be privatized, could see substantial growth once it is controlled by private investors, favoring the emergence of a third important actor in the sector. It seems probable that the authorities will favor this scenario ( a third actor) rather than a take-over by one of the other two actors.
Finally, let us note that Promogro (13% of market share) is a rather different case as it is positioned on the "wholesale-retail" market.
Market access procedures
Bilateral agreements with the European Union.
The country is also part of the Greater Arab Free Trade Area (GAFTA), a pact of the Arab League entered into force in January 2005 which aims to form an Arabic free trade area.
Pharmaceutical industry is protected. All imports of pharmaceutical products are controlled by the Central Pharmacy of Tunisia. Agricultural products from Arab and North African Nations have preferential tariff rates.
Tunisia sometimes applies anti-dumping duties for which the basis and the reasons for application are not clearly defined and which can sometimes be considered as minimum prices for the calculation of Customs duties.
All goods benefitting from the free import regime are imported under cover of an import certificate and a commercial invoice.
Goods excluded from the free import regime can only be imported with import authorizations issued by the Ministry of Trade. These import authorizations are valid 12 months except for certain sensitive goods.
These applications, obtained from Chambers of Commerce, are filed against a receipt with an approved intermediary who sends them to the Ministry of Trade.
Imports made under the compensation scheme and imports without payment are subject to special regimes.
Customs procedures are as follows: either quick collection by simplified procedure (Request for collection authorization: DAE); or carriage to the factory under Customs seal or under escort; or inspection at the factory by the on-site Customs officer; or later regularization before export.
Imported goods could pay tariff rates up 200%. All goods are subject to a fee of 3% of total duties paid in the import. VAT is also applicable (18% for most of goods). There is a consumption tax for goods competing with local production. Rates vary from 10% to 700%. Luxury goods pay the highest rate.
Organizing goods transport
96% of Tunisian foreign trade is carried out by sea. More than 27 million tons of goods transit through Tunisian ports. The port of Radès has an important place in the national transport chain through its specialization in container traffic and rolling units (essentially trailer traffic). It carries out 22% of global traffic, 90% of the tonnage of containerized goods, 90% of the tonnage of goods loaded on rolling units, 92% of container traffic in TEU, 91% of the traffic of rolling units and 23% of ship traffic registered in all Tunisian commercial ports.
The airline company Tunisair carries one third of passenger traffic and half of goods traffic in the region. Around 45,000 tons of freight transit through Tunisian airports.
There are three motorways linking Tunis and M'saken, Bizerte and Béja. Road transport dominates land transport of passengers and goods.
The railway line Tunis-Borj-Cédria is the main line. The line Tunis-Sousse-Gabés has been electrified. More than 3.200 million tons/km transit through rail traffic.