Tunisian Union for Industry, Trade and Handicrafts

  • About the Union

    The Tunisian Union for Industry, Commerce and Handicraft was founded on 17 January 1947 and since then, it has been the first and only national organization representing the owners of enterprises, entrepreneurs and businesses, all professional structures in all non-agricultural economic sectors including industry, trade, traditional industries…

    Since its inception, the Tunisian Union for Industry, Commerce and Handicrafts has set its goal of unifying the efforts of the private institutions and their structure, both in the region and in the sector, so that their voice can be heard and include tens of thousands of institutions including all economic activities. This institutional fabric consists primarily of small and medium enterprises. It has more than 25,000 union officials.

    The Tunisian Union for Industry, Trade and Traditional Industries committed throughout its historical stages to serving the national economy and defending and developing the institution.


    Functions of the Union

    The role of the Tunisian Union for Industry, Trade and Handicrafts is to support, promote and revitalize the private sector. The Federation is the official speaker on behalf of the private sector with the public authorities. Its role is mainly summarized with:

    • The consolidation of Tunisian private economic institutions and the formation of an expanded network of professionals that will have an impact on the development of various economic sectors.

    • Promoting investment, innovation and wealth creation through the development of a strategy and program of action aimed at improving the economic and social climate.

    • Accompany institutions by providing advice, support and information.

    • Representing institutions to the public authority and defending their interests during social negotiations.

    • Revitalizing the Tunisian economy by actively participating with the supervisory authority at the age of development and developing an appropriate economic and social policy to create growth and develop various economic factors.

    • Promoting the image of the country abroad and developing international partnership.


    Principles of the Union

    Commitment: The Union is committed to all institutions belonging to it and whatever size and quality of its activity and position, to defend its interests and work on development for a strong and stable economy.

    Equity: The Union plays the role of regulator and moderator for a fair economy and sustainable development by creating a sense of equity in economic relations so that it is balanced and recognized.

    Ethics: The Union builds its relations with its partners and affiliates on the basis of wise, responsible and integrated leadership that is in line with its principles and values, as well as promoting and valuing social work within the institution.

    Transparency: The Tunisian Union for Industry, Trade and Handicraft has chosen to make transparency a core value within the organization, both at home and in relations between members or even partners.


    The Union’s Vision

    The Union's vision is focused on the following axes:

    • Work towards valuing the work in Tunisian society and encouraging entrepreneurship so that these values are the pillars of Tunisian society.

    • Prepared to defend economic and fiscal laws based on a stimulus system and a financing policy that promotes growth and investment, resurrecting institutions and resisting the parallel economy.

    • To create a proactive and effective strategy to diversify the markets and strengthen the position of Tunisia and to ensure that the economic institution and in all parts of the country industrial infrastructure and transport and logistics services and communications in accordance with international standards.

    • Working towards bringing the parties closer to social cohesion and better development in all areas and effective resistance to all forms of regional discrimination and urged each side to highlight all the possibilities available to attract investors.

    • Transforming the administration into a competitive factor in the Tunisian economy through the renewal of the services of the public administration departments, the development of the monitoring and evaluation service, the reforms and the quality of services.

    • Adding more clarity and harmony in the social climate through the identification of a new rental policy, the development of an effective and durable social protection system and the creation of a new model of labor relations that combines the continuous improvement of the institution's competitiveness, decent work and the creation of jobs.

    • Encouraging an economy characterized by the creation of added value and renewal through strengthening the link between vocational training systems, higher education and the economic environment and communication between them and empowering most citizens of the basic skills through a system of education and advanced and innovative results.


    Activities and Services

    Economic level

    The Tunisian Union for Industry, Trade and Handicrafts has made its economic role a real lever to support and strengthen the private sector. The Central Administration responsible for the economy of the Union collects, analyzes and disseminates data relating to the economic situation in industry, trade, higher education, scientific research, vocational training and environmental status. These figures, reports and indicators are then further analyzed for continuous monitoring of the growth and competitiveness of enterprises.

    The Federation has organized many activities and procedures aimed at improving the economic and institutional environment of companies. Several conferences, seminars and forums have been organized to discuss, exchange views and experiences and submit suggestions and recommendations.

    Social level

    On the social level, the Tunisian Union for Industry, Trade and Handicraft Federation intervenes through its Central Administration for Social Affairs in several areas including:

    Social negotiations, social legislation, legal advice, labor disputes, dispute resolution, assistance and advice, tri-processing of technical assistance files, operating files.


    International level

    The Central Administration for International Relations of the Union seeks to enhance the presence of Tunisian institutions abroad. Its mission is focused on three activities:

    • Accompanying and guidance

    • Link relationships

    • Support and advice

    The central administration of the Union’s international relations represents the instrument of real development abroad and a basic platform for:

    • Create contacts, build relationships and find the right partners.

    • Utilizing data on relevant foreign markets.

    • Supporting the presence of Tunisian institutions in emerging markets with high growth.

    • Improving Tunisia's image with foreign investors.

    It is also represented at the external level by thirty bilateral business councils and through more than 50 annual meetings organized with government officials and heads of foreign institutions in Tunisia and the world.

    Foreign institutions in Tunisia are receiving great attention from the Tunisian Union for Industry, Trade and Handicrafts. The Organization's Solid Section has been sent to serve foreign investors in Tunisia or investors who intend to invest in order to accompany them and help them not only at the social level but also at the economic and administrative levels.


    Relationships and Alliances

    As part of its program of activities and its functions in the development of institutions, the Federation organizes in addition to exhibitions, forums and symposia on a regular basis bilateral meetings between the owners of institutions in order to link relations and business development. These meetings meant to be at the sector level for discussion, exchange of experiences and launching projects in a specific sector. These meetings can be regional, national or international.

    There have also been many business missions abroad, either in partnership or in order to exploit new markets or discover new business opportunities.



    The Tunisian Union for Industry, Trade and Handicraft Industry accompanies, co-ordinates and mobilizes with all its participants in all regional and professional structures. The Union's structures are an important factor for integration and economic development, supporting and developing activities and institutions at the regional and national and international levels.

    The structural organization of the Union gives sectoral representation at the level of national universities and chambers of commerce as well as geographical proximity through regional and local federations.

    The Federation is represented in 18 universities, 24 regional federations, 216 local federations, 370 national union chambers and 1700 regional union chambers.


    Set-Up Structures

    National Conference

    The conference is the supreme authority of the Tunisian Union for Industry, Commerce and Handicraft, which is organized every five years and has a broad right to determine the orientations, objectives, activities, organization and internal control methods of all structures.


    Executive Office

    It has 31 members elected from the National Conference according to a specific sectoral representation and meets once a month. Among the tasks assigned to the Executive Office is the implementation of the decisions of the National Convention.


    The National Council

    The National Council consists of the members of the Executive Council, the presidents of the universities, the heads of the regional federations, the presidents of the national union chambers, the presidents of the regional sectoral councils, the head of the center of young managers, it meets at least once in six months.

    It is the task of the National Council to discuss the budget of the Union and determine the drafting of revisions and amendments to the internal law of the Union as well as determine the overall direction of the activity of the Organization.


    Board of Directors

    It consists of members of the Executive Office, heads of national universities and heads of regional federations, monitors reports of oversight bodies, and coordinates between sectoral and regional structures and the executive office.


    President: Samir Majoul



    The Federation has six technical committees to reflect on the development of new strategies for development. These committees are the Economic Committee, the Social Committee, the Regional Development Committee, the Committee of Taxation, the Legislation Committee and the Committee on Relations with the University and Scientific Research.

    These committees are the force of a proposal for reforms aimed at improving the business climate and competitiveness of Tunisian institutions.



    The Federation has 18 national professional universities whose main functions are:

    • Negotiate and defend the interests of its perspectives to all the interlocutors.

    • Assisting and sensitizing institutions to participate and develop development policies in their sectors.

    • Preparation of sectoral technical files.

    • Active participation in activities related to the field of their activities.


    Regional Associations

    Based on the regional administrative division, the main objective of the regional union of industry, trade and traditional industries in any area is to assemble local associations and regional chambers in order to coordinate their activities and support their activities and efforts.

    The Tunisian Union for Industry, Commerce and Handicraft Federation comprises 24 regional federations that cover economic activities in their respective jurisdictions and maintain constant contact with their regional and local structures as well as with the regional administrative authorities and authorities.


    Center for Young Directors

    The Center for Young Tunisian Directors was established in 1998 in cooperation with the Center of Young French Directors, with the aim of preparing the Young Tunisian Foundation to meet the challenges of globalization. The center has primary functions:

    • Collect young promoters whether owners of their institutions or even managers in voluntary activities in order bring the best results out of the activities of the center of young managers and their institutions and the national economy.

    • The formation of young managers and innovation through the creation of a space for creativity and exchange of experiences.
    • Represent young corporate managers as a component of dialogue and negotiation and defend their interests in decision-making circles.
    • Adopting young people with high degrees and training them to send their projects and contribute to the dissemination of entrepreneurship in the university institutions.
    • Ensuring the rapprochement between the institution and the school in order to continue to adapt between university training and the needs of the labor market.


    Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs

    The National Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs was founded in 1990 in the core of the Federation of Industry and Commerce, which gathers women entrepreneurs and heads of institutions in all activities and sectors in order to gather energies and exchange experiences and break the isolation and ambition to contribute actively and effectively to the national economy.

    The Chamber covers the entire territory of the Republic and aims to enhance the spirit of women's initiatives, improve the performance of women-led companies and integrate new generations of women entrepreneurs into associative life.


    The Chamber’s Objectives

    • Supporting the performance of businesswomen.
    • Identify new opportunities in markets, exports and trade.
    • Developing the network of participants in order to attract new ones.
    • Develop relations with similar international organizations.


     Seventieth anniversary of the founding of the Tunisian Union for Industry, Commerce and Handicraft

    Seven decades of struggle… Awarded the Nobel Peace Prize


    The Tunisian Federation of Industry, Commerce and Handicrafts will celebrate its 70th anniversary tomorrow. The celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Union, which was founded on January 17, 1947, will take place in a special occasion in the history of Tunisia, especially with the successive events that our country has experienced in recent years after January 14, and the start of building the second republic, where the Union played an important role in this, along with other organizations composed of civil society, especially contributing to overcome the political crisis suffocating country experienced in 2013 within the four sponsor of the national dialogue, which enabled the holding of legislative elections and Presidential 2014, and culminates Union within the four-sponsor of the National Dialogue Nobel Peace Prize in 2015.


    The roles played by the EO in a particular period cannot be reduced in any given period. For the past 70 years, it has been present in the great events that our country experienced in the pre-independence period through the Union of Industrial Unions and Small Traders in the Tunisian Country, After the independence and the building of the modern state, until the revolution of January 14, 2011 and the Union's involvement in the efforts to build the second republic and focus the foundations of democracy and build a national economy the size of the challenges that our country knows today.

    Today we will review in a special annex on the occasion of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Union the most important historical stages that characterized the establishment of this ancient organization to date... A history of difficulties, but also achievements and successes...


    Returning to this historic period, which marked the emergence of the Union and the economic conditions that affected our country after the world war, we realize the difficulty of the situation under the colonial administration.

    Dr. El Hadi El-Taymoumy describes this situation in the book "The Absentees in Tunisia's Social History: "There was in front of the small traders and artisans and their middlemen while the knife has their bone, two options as said: defending their right to life or contentment at the inevitable end.

    It was a decisive year in 1946, when the schism that took place at the University of Industrialism and Small Traders in Tunisian territories was witnessed in March 1946, and the late Farajani, Belhadj Ammar and his supporters, withdrew because of the deep opposition between the international communists' tendency and the national dissident.

    The direct cause is mainly due to the refusal of the dissidents to participate in the French community residing in Tunisia in the referendum on the draft constitution to be held at that time in France, as the draft prepared by the Constituent Assembly in France stated in chapter 41 that there are differences between the territory of France overseas and the states in participation with France on the other hand and considered dissidents that Tunisia is a participating country and not attached to its soil.


    Foundational Conference of the New Organization

    The founding conference of the new organization was organized by the dissidents from the «Industrial University» on 16 and 17 January 1947 and took the name «Union of Industrial Unions and small traders in the Tunisian country».

    The conference was held at the association's palace in the capital and its opening session was attended by Farhat Hached, Secretary-General of the General Union of Tunisian Labor. The late Mohamed Shamam was elected as president and the late Farajani Belhadj Ammar as the new writer of the new body. This conference has raised the slogan «Today rises the national economy, today is successful», embodied several demands included in the general regulations:

    • The protestors against the colonial authority for not recognizing this organization.
    • Representing the Federation in all distribution committees to distribute fair materials in a fair manner among the owners of industries and eliminate the black market.
    • The Union granted a weekly trade union newspaper in Arabic.

    In the period from 1947 to 1955, the Union of Trade Unions and Small Traders of Tunisian Territories witnessed significant transformations, according to Professor Mohamed Lotfi Chaibi, author of the Tunisian Businessmen's Organization, respectively: "The Second Conference (14-15 and 16 April 1948) The Third Conference (17-18 and 19 September 1951) and the Fourth Conference 8 9 and 10 April 1955.

    While each conference represented a stage in the history and development of the Organization, the four conferences crystallized a clear strategy: to combine the defense of the interests of small traders and industrialists and to achieve unity with the great customs in favor of the national economy, on the one hand, and the continuous contribution to all forms of national struggle for independence in cooperation with organizations and under the supervision of the new Free Constitutional Party on the other.


    Engagement with the Struggle

    Since the establishment of the union, it has launched strikes to defend its participants and has been able to extract the right to distribute many types of raw materials such as cotton, silk, wool and leather.

    The nascent Union quickly succeeded in curbing the influence of the "Industrial University", which falsely claimed to be the sole legitimate representative of small traders and artisans.

    The Union also managed to obtain 80% of the seats in the commercial chamber of the north and the two mixed blocks of the center and south in the 1948 elections.

    This is evidence that the organization succeeded in a short period in securing the cover of most traders and craftsmen around it, which made the colonial administration think well before making any decision that concerns the lives of traders and craftsmen and has reached the point of giving the Union a weekly share in the radio, as per El Hadi al Taymoumi.

    In 1948, the Union changed its name during the second conference and became known as the Tunisian Union for Industry and Trade. This change means "the openness of the organization to the major Tunisian merchants. The slogan of the party was the United National Front, which mobilized as many Tunisians as possible. Their affiliations were against colonialism to achieve political independence. "

    "The Union did not limit itself to the defensive struggle (black market resistance and the French administration policy ...), but it was active in the formation of service cooperatives and production cooperatives such as the Ice Food Company in 1950," says Dr. El Hadi Taymoumi.

    The Union participated in the political movements called for by the party and has imprisoned or denied a number of leaders of the Union, including the fighter Farajani Belhadj Ammar, Mahmoud Zerzari, Mohamed Al-Asfar bin Jarad, Andri Barush and Mohammed Saad ...


    Transformations of the 1955 Conference

    The fourth conference of the Union in 1955, which was hosted by the Hall of the Palmarium in the capital was a decisive shift in the history of the Organization, where the demands became more comprehensive and exceeded the sectoral concerns to adhere to the demands of the popular national and foremost the demand for independence and self-determination, and thus turned to a meeting like a meeting of the party's struggle reaffirmed the political role and the national that was built by the Union.

    After the independence, the differences between the loyalists of the leader Habib Bourguiba and the supporters of the fighter Saleh Ben Youssef and the late Farajani Belhadj Ammar played a decisive role to encircle this internal dispute. He succeeded by virtue of his militant experience, the solidity of the Union and the solidity of the Free Constitutional Party and its radiance among the traders, and his passing of this circumstance wisely and then entered the Union a new crisis in the adoption of our country's policy of solidarity since the beginning of the sixties...

    It is possible to say that the sixties were considered an "ordeal" experienced by the Union and its various perspectives of traders, industrialists and artisans, where the social situation worsened in the country and the performance of various sectors decreased due to the imposition of a policy of mutual support until the situation reached its limit in the late sixties (1969) and abandon the system of mutual support after the failure.

    The Tunisian Federation of Industry, Commerce and Handicrafts has returned to its field activities after the state adopted the policy of economic liberalization by taking over the late fighter Hadi Noueira, the first minister. The new policy was based on the partnership between the various national organizations, the social dialogue between all the social parties, the launching of the first export institutions (the 1972 law), the emergence of an oil boom and a tourist boom. The organization's involvement in the success of these trends has been notable since the national economy has flourished with the beginning of the 1970s and the Social Progress Charter has been established.

    In the 1980s, in difficult economic and social conditions, amid political uncertainty due to the aging of the late Habib Bourguiba and the assumption of power by Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on November 7, 1987, the Union remained isolated from these transformations, especially after the late fighter Farajani Belhadj Ammar On 8 August 1988, in accordance with Chapter XI of the Basic Law of the Union, the Bureau unanimously elected Mr. Hadi Jilani as President of the Organization.

    In spite of what our country has known during this period of the narrowing of freedoms, the Union has remained faithful to its role in serving the national economy, serving businessmen and their perspectives of traders and professionals, and reforming the national economy and its transition from a targeted economy to a competitive economy open to the outside. Social dialogue between the social parties and the success of rounds of social negotiations and the achievement of regular increases every three years.

    After taking over the chairmanship of the organization, Mr. El Hadi El-Jilani focused on the need to consider the ways and methods of modernizing it to stay up to date with the economic transformations and the rapid development of institutions and sectors and during the Eleventh National Congress in 1990, Mr. El Hadi El-Jilani was elected and re-elected during the Twelfth (1995) and Thirteenth (2001) Conferences, and the fourteenth (2006), while emerged in his period new challenges, the most important of which is the opening of our country to the European Common Market through the signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union, which was concluded in 1995 and necessitated the need to rehabilitate the national industrial fabric and quality development, wiith these countries ..

    Mr. El Hadi El-Gilani, during his presidency of the Federation, worked in particular on the modernization and empowerment of the Organization and the necessary tools to perform its role in the best way, as well as enhancing the Federation's presence and its international visibility. Mr. El Hadi El-Jilani held many posts, President of the African Confederation of Founders and member of the International Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He was a founding member of the Mediterranean Union of Institutional Owners and the Union of Maghreb Employers.


    A Milestone in the History of the Union

    The Union, like the rest of the national forces, reacted with the Tunisian revolution on 14 January 2011, supporting the demands of the Revolution of Freedom and Dignity, which was led by all segments of society, especially youth. During the transitional period following the revolution, the Organization was calculated to carry out the effort undertaken by the Union under these exceptional circumstances. It urged its perspectives to play their national role in securing the needs of the national market, opening shops and factories, providing foodstuffs and basic needs in parallel with its fundamental role in defending the interests of Business owners and institutions, many of whom were subjected to looting and burning, as well as continuing internal audits, refurbishing structures and preparing for the National Conference.

    What counts for the Union in this period is its success in making a transition smoothly, with much wisdom, sensitivity and responsibility. After the resignation of Mr. Hadi Jilani from the Presidency of the Union in January 2011, Mr. Hamadi bin Sudairin, became the general coordinator of the Union and then elected by the Executive Office of the Union as President from March to May 2011, where Mrs. Ouided Bouchamaoui was elected by the members of the Executive Office of the National Presidency of the Union to when the Union held its 15th National Congress on 17 January 2013, which represented a milestone event during which a self-criticism process was launched through a broad internal dialogue.

    The Conference was created after a transparent electoral process an executive office representing the sectors and bodies was presided for the first time in the history of the organization a woman called Ouided Bouchamaoui to be the president of the Union, and the Union devoted this conference approach is based on the positioning outside the circle of political polarization knowing that a month earlier, the Union held an extraordinary conference in December 2012 devoted to the adoption of a new statute and internal law.


    Nobel Peace Prize

    The Union also played a pivotal role in sponsoring the national dialogue, which is the critical phase of the democratic transition that brought Tunisians to the test of all observers between the years 2011 and 2015 from the state of tension to the state of consensus and dialogue within the framework of the Roadmap; A unique experience that was not expected to transform Tunisia to the international spotlight and the culmination of the quartet's Nobel Peace Prize for 2015.

    This culmination in this struggle of the Union through the achievement of the organizations sponsoring the national dialogue on the Nobel Peace Prize for the year 2015 drew the attention of the world to the Tunisian experience, which represented an exception in the revolutions of the so-called Arab Spring, and perhaps moved today from the stage of praise to the stage of study and follow-up.

    Today, the leadership of the Tunisian Union for Industry, Trade and Handicrafts is celebrating this long march in the history of the Organization. This international achievement does not obscure the real economic and social stakes under a difficult economic situation that calls for concerted efforts to achieve an economic transition that is equivalent to its political gains.


    Dialogue is the Basis of Labor Relations

    In the past few years, the Union has worked to rebuild its relations with the Tunisian General Labor Union and the Government by signing the "Social Contract", which for the first time bypassed the procedural aspects of mere dialogue on wage increases to establish a dialogue relationship on issues related to the status of the institution, productivity, Training and institutional competitiveness.

    This communication between the two organizations has become the best way to manage this relationship through a constructive dialogue that is in the interest of the workers and the owners of institutions, and takes into consideration the economic challenges facing the institutions.

    The Union's efforts to enhance the international radiation of the Organization and to strengthen relations with international and financial bodies and employers' organizations in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas continue to stimulate investment in Tunisia. The Union participated actively in the Tunis Investment Forum, which was held on 28 and 29 November 2016, where 34 Billion dinars were gained between agreements and contracts and pledges.

    Despite the difficulty of the current situation and coincided with the date of the emergence of the Union as the Tunisians celebrate their revolution, it seeks with all its energies and sectors to continue its leading national role. The Union was among the signatories to the Carthage Document in July 2016, the current government.

    The Union continues to support the economy, drawing on its long-standing struggle heritage through an economic program up to the year 2020, as an important economic lever and a national consensus and dialogue, while at the same time defending the concerns of its visionaries of business owners, craftsmen, industrialists and service providers. This new image of Tunisia has this emerging democracy.

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