In 2004, Tunsia signed the Agadir Agreement with Jordan, Egypt and Morocco. This has forced all parties to remove all tariffs on trade between them and to harmonize their legislation on customs standards and procedures. The Agadir agreement came into force in July 2006 and is implemented by the Agadir technical unit in Amman. Intellectual property protection provisions (Article 23 and Appendix V I. I) cover, among other things, patents, trademarks, copyrights and geographical indications. They are based on the WTO agreement on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS) and provide a high level of protection, taking into account the principles of the most favoured nation and national treatment. The agreement also contains provisions for the elimination of other trade and trade-related barriers, including competition rules, state monopolies and subsidies. In addition, the agreement contains provisions relating to intellectual property protection, investment, services, current payments and capital flows, public procurement, economic cooperation and institutional and procedural issues. The agreement establishes a joint committee to monitor its implementation and provide for a binding arbitration procedure.
Trade in processed agricultural products is a protocol to the main agreement (Article 4, paragraph 1, paragraph b), and Protocol A). In addition, trade in agricultural commodities is covered by three bilateral agreements negotiated separately between Iceland, Norway and Switzerland on the one hand, and Tunisia on the other. These agreements, which are part of the instruments for creating the free trade area (Article 4, paragraph 2), provide for tariff concessions. Each agreement contains specific rules of origin, usually based on “fully preserved” criteria. So far, the EU has proposed a mixed approach: in principle, a positive list grants free market access in certain service sectors, while a negative list protects businesses. The possibility of temporary migration of workers to provide services in the partner country (“mode 4” in the services chapter) is particularly important for Tunisia. While this channel could in principle be used to organise labour immigration, EU projects are not subject to specific sectoral proposals. This agreement has created a free trade area in which all trade in industrial products is free of tariffs in both directions, while the EU and Tunisia have agreed to gradually open their respective markets to selected products for agricultural, agri-food and fisheries products.
The main objective of the agreement (Article 1) is trade liberalization, in accordance with Article XXIV of the 1994 GATT. Nearly 50 states, including Tunisia, have so far signed an agreement for the creation of a continental free trade area. In the longer term, they must merge and consolidate their regional EPAs, their bilateral association agreements and all the DCFS concluded so far. This perspective must already be taken into account. Beyond individual needs, uniformity elements such as harmonized rules of origin are important. Despite the challenges posed by the ambitious long-term goal of a pan-African free trade area, this area should not be abused to block previous regional and bilateral trade initiatives; Rather, this last point should be conceived as a preparatory step. Since 2016, the European Union has been negotiating with Tunisia a new free trade agreement (ACFTA) aimed at strengthening reciprocal market access for all goods, services and investments. But great obstacles still need to be overcome. The EU is reluctant to grant agricultural concessions that would make a deal attractive to Tunis, while civil society, the Tunisian economy and Tunisian politics as a whole oppose it.
A smart agreement could promote economic modernization and growth in order to strengthen and stabilize Tunisia`s young democracy.