Import License Challenges Facing Entrepreneurs in Tunisia
African entrepreneurs! Your success is our success and for this reason, we’ll be looking at policies that affect entrepreneurs in Tunisia.
Welcome to Tunisia, home to Africa’s northernmost point and a country with great historical attractions.
According to the International Trade Administration, it is quite difficult to access foreign currency by entrepreneurs in Tunisia. This singular act limits their businesses to the Tunisian market since they can’t get import from other countries without foreign currencies. The Central bank of Tunisia must give prior approval for foreign exchange transactions and may apply restrictions to foreign exchange accounts and operations.
INSME not-for-profit association, highlighted how the main challenge faced in the implementation of the startup act was restrictions coming from existing laws. The Startup Act was part of the wider strategy called Digital Tunisia 2020, promoted by the Tunisian government identifying a legal framework that includes measures to favor investors and startups. INSME said a key challenge in line with the principles of the Startup Act was the reform of the foreign exchange policy and e-commerce legislation in Tunisia.
Entrepreneurs on reddit have complained about how difficult it is to get a license to import certain goods. It is said that when it comes to importing clothes, there are only 48 licenses that have ever been given out by the government and the existing licenses can be sold, transferred or (it most often happens) inherited by members of powerful and corrupt monopoly-holding families. Entrepreneurs reported that only 4 people are allowed to import carpets in the whole of Tunisia. Ultimately, this will lead to a monopoly and prices of such goods will not be determined by the forces of demand and supply but by the owners of these businesses.
Entrepreneurs have also complained about the minimum amount you must have in your company’s bank account before you can engage in imports. If you want to buy $1,000 worth of phone chargers to sell in Tunisia, you would d need to have a company registered and also have nothing less than 150,000 dinars (approximately $65,000) in your company’s bank account (which is the required capital).
We propose that the Tunisian government come up with more flexible policies to ease access to foreign currencies.
We propose that the government comes up with a policy that addresses the basis for which licenses are given, making them more realistic and without any form of bias to any party
We propose that the minimum amount required to be permanently locked in a company’s account be reduced to fit the economy of Tunisia.