In 1959, Tunisia withdrew from the French Customs Union and the Franco-Tunisian Economic and Financial Convention of 3 June 1955. A surviving trade convention provided for duty-free entry of Tunisian products into France; suspended in 1964, following the nationalization of French-owned farmlands, this agreement has since been restored.
The maximum basic customs tariff was raised in 1996 by 43% to 250%. Most goods do not need import licenses; exceptions include textiles and automobiles. There is a 3% customs formality fee based on the total duties paid on the import. Certain luxury goods are assessed a consumption tax as high as 700%. A value-added tax is set at 18%. As of 1999, all cotton imports were duty-free. The import of weapons and health care products is strictly controlled, while exports that go against health, morality, or cultural heritage are prohibited.
In 1969, Tunisia was granted associate membership in the European Community. Under the accord, which was renewed in 1976 and 1983, the EC countries removed customs duties and quotas on nearly all of Tunisia's industrial exports. In 1995, Tunisia signed a free trade accord with the renamed European Union that will remove tariff and other trade barriers on most nonagricultural goods, services, and capital by 2008. Tunisia is also a member of the World Trade Organization.