Tunisia's Main Business Sectors

Tunisia is made up of equal parts desert and farmland, so agricultural products play a very important role in the country's economy. Most of the country's exports are agricultural in nature, such as citrus, dates, dairy products, olives and tomatoes. However, there are other sectors of Tunisian business, which you will learn about here.

Tunisia's industrial sector is primarily made of manufacturers of clothing and shoes, machinery and auto parts. Many international companies have branches in Tunisia, and the country has attracted investors from the European Union and the UAE.

The Tunisian telecommunications market is largely state-run, with Tunisiana being the only private entity in the sector. The company was founded in 2002 as an Orascom division, and today it covers almost 99% of Tunisia's population.

Tunisia's transportation sector is small, but international travel contributes a sizable portion of the country's income. Tunisia has one airline, Tunisair, which flies to over fifty destinations in Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.

Since 1966, the oil sector has played a vital role in Tunisian business; over 97,000 barrels are put out per day from Tunisia's 12 oil fields. The largest player in the petroleum products industry is Mediterranean Exploration, or Medex. The company has subsidiaries that work with almost every international oil company, such as BP and Shell. Medex has been in business since 1995, and it only does business in Northern Africa.

The utilities sector in Tunisia is dominated by the Societe Tunisienne de l'Electricite et du Gaz, or STEG, which is a state-owned company that provides most of the country's power. The country of Tunisia has plans to invest in nuclear power, through a French partnership. It is also planning a large-scale solar electricity plant.

Tunisia's government is actively seeking foreign investors for all the country's business sectors. They openly encourage foreign direct investment in an export-oriented form, to mitigate the investment's impact on local employment and domestic competition.

The government permits foreign investors to participate in privatization initiatives, and a lot of foreign direct investment has come from this area. Privatization has occurred in the banking, manufacturing, petroleum and telecommunications sectors, among others.

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