Tunisia is set to roll out new custom duties on the importation of smartphones, PCs and other communication devices, according to the country's ministry of finance.
The new 20% customs tax will come into effect on 1 January 2018. In addition to the new custom tax, the government is also planning to increase value added tax (VAT) on the affected products from the current 6% to 18%.
Tech products imported into Tunisia used to be exempt from customs duties, even though the country, a member of the World Trade Organisation, did not sign the ministerial declaration of trade in IT products – endorsed by several members in Singapore in December 1996.
In the declaration, 300 technological products were exempted from customs duties.
The Tunisian Union of Industry, Commerce and Handicrafts (UTICA) believes consumers will be hardest hit by the tax increase.
"The Union believes that it will affect the purchase price of ICT equipment. These new taxes will be in addition to the many taxes that had already been imposed on companies operating in the telecoms sector," the union said.
The Tunisian National Telecommunications Authority (INT) is preparing a study to determine the contribution of taxes paid by the country's tech sector on the national economy.
The Authority said it is aiming to assess their impact on the purchasing power of consumers, and the obstacles the taxes may pose to the investments made in the industry.