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AGRICULTURE, TRADE, AND POVERTY IN TUNISIA 107


Tunisian customs duties are still among the highest in the world. In fact, in 2002 nondiscriminatory duties rose to 34.5 percent, on average, against an average rate of 12.8 percent among middle-income countries in the same year. The agricultural and food processing sectors continue to be highly protected. Because the partnership agreement with the E.U. has bearing only on non- agricultural and manufactured food products, agricultural trade continues to be governed by the commitments that Tunisia has made within the multilat- eral framework of the WTO. Quantitative restrictions have been converted to customs duties, but, as in many member states, bound tariff rates have been fixed at very high levels. Although on the eve of the signing of the GATT in Marrakech in 1994 nominal protection rose to an average rate of 39 percent and 46 percent, respectively, for the agricultural and food processing sectors, the respective rates rose to 136 percent and 88 percent in 1997. They have been reduced through the years in conformity with the agreement on agriculture but still remain at very high levels, 89 percent on average for agricultural products and 72 percent for agro-industry products (Table 5.5).


For agricultural and food processing products, the tariffs vary greatly. Customs duties and other import taxes are generally high for fruit, forest cultivation products, tobacco, meat, dairy products, products derived from the processing of cereals, canned foods, and beverages. They are not so high for cereals, livestock, oils, and sugar, four categories that, together, account for 60 percent of agricultural imports. Nevertheless, Tunisia pre- served preferential customs duties as part of its proposals for the GATT agreements in 1994, which are applied to certain products within the limits of quotas set by public authorities. Preferential rates are much lower than the bound tariffs (Table 5.6).


Table 5.5 Nominal protection by major economic activity in Tunisia, 1995–2003 (percent)


Sector E.U. E.U. Agriculture and fishing


39 11 126


Manufacturing 43 39 Other sectors Total


Total, except agriculture and food processing


30


Source: Chemingui and Lahouel (2006). Note: E.U., European Union.


34 42 21


1995 2000 2001 2002 rest of 2003 rest of E.U.


100 36


E.U. 98


33 35


2002 world 98


E.U. 89


45 29 43 31 12


2003 world 89


42


11 3 3 9 1 3 36


39 16 15 24 22


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