12,4 millionen inhabitants
1650.000 employees in the textile industry

Factsheet: Tunisia's garment industry

Tunisia in figures (as of 2023)

  • Around 95% of textile exports go to the EU, the textile and clothing sector is Tunisia's second largest export sector after the electrical industry
  • 41% of the factories are foreign owned (France, Germany, Belgium)
  • approx. 160,000 employees in textiles and clothing (2020) according to FWF Countrystudy, of which 80% are women
  • minimum wage is 192€ and does not provide a living wage
  • Suppression of trade union and assembly freedoms

Textile and clothing sector - high importance for Tunisia

With a market share of about 2.5 percent, the Tunisian textile industry is one of the ten most important suppliers of textiles to the EU. Since Corona, the North African countries of Tunisia, Morocco, and others have become interesting for many companies. Nearshoring is the buzzword. Supply chains have been disrupted by Corona and the Ukraine war, even in the procurement of clothing, so many companies are interested in production closer to Europe. However, value added in Tunisia remains low, and intermediate products and materials are imported. Production takes place mainly in the coastal region in the east of the country. Despite an increase in production in Tunisia, most apparel in Europe continues to come from Asia, in part because wages there are even lower.

Women in the garment industry

80% of garment workers are women. They earn wages that are not enough to live on. Since unemployment is particularly high among young people and women, many women are dependent on the few jobs available. The temporary employment contracts are particularly problematic, because after four years factories have to hire the women on a permanent basis. To avoid this, they fire them beforehand.

Most seamstresses are between 18 and 35 years old. © FEMNETMost seamstresses are between 18 and 35 years old. © FEMNET

Patriarchal society

Old patriarchal structures still prevail in Tunisia and culturally women are valued less than men. Gender-based violence occurs mainly in the private sphere and is 31% (see FWF gender fact sheet); the number of unreported cases is probably much higher.

Textile union

The UGTT union has about 750,000 members* in 2017 (FWF country study) and organizes about 46% of public and private sector workers, but only 17.5% in the textile sector. Due to the short-term contracts that women receive, it is particularly difficult to organize them. As soon as the factory management hears about it, the women are fired.

Those who make mistakes are observed closely. © FEMNETThose who make mistakes are observed closely. © FEMNET


Stakeholders (see FWF country study).

Business associations:

UTICA : Tunisian Union of Manufacturing, Trade and Handicrafts, business association.
FENATEX: National Federation of Textile
FTTH: Tunisian Federation of Textile and Clothing

Trade Unions:

UGTT: Tunisian General Union of Workers- largest union with 750,000 members.
UGTT Textile Federation: represents about 37,000 members, 60% women


ATFD: Association Tunisienne des Femmes Democtaes
FTDES :Forum Tu8nesien des Droits Economiques et Sociaux
LTDH : Ligue Tunisienne des Droits de l'Homme