The following communication, dated 25 October 2016, is being circulated at the request of the delegation of Tunisia.
The EU welcomes the detailed notification submitted by Tunisia and acknowledges the efforts done for its preparation. We would like to note our concern on the Pharmacie Centrale de Tunisie, which detains the monopoly for the importations of medicines. First, since May 2013 exporters are forced to accept to take charge of the dinar depreciation over the next 4 years, in order to sell any new pharmaceutical product. Then, as stated in the notification, the price of the medicines is subject to the approval of the Minister responsible for trade and the margins for each distribution level are set by the State. Consequently, the public prices are standardized and identical throughout the country. The EU also notes that the notification does not contain the relevant statistics.
The EU would like to invite Tunisia to submit detailed information on the criteria used by the public authorities to define the margins for each distribution level as well as the missing statistical information.
Pursuant to Article XVII:1(a) of the GATT, the Tunisian Central Pharmacy (PCT) complies with the general principles of non‑discriminatory treatment prescribed in the GATT. There is no discrimination between suppliers of pharmaceutical products. The conditions of competition are the same and purchase requirements apply regardless of the origin of the product.
Likewise, approval of the price of medicines in Tunisia, whose aim is to guarantee better access to health, obliges the PCT to absorb any price increase (either as a result of the supplier fixing a higher price or because of foreign exchange fluctuations), using its own funds. This mechanism is known as compensation and applies only to imports in the pharmaceutical sector.
Moreover, this measure, designed to reduce the burden of compensation, which reached TDN 74.07 million in 2015, has not affected the importation of medicines into Tunisia. It should be emphasized that this procedure only concerns products purchased directly for the pharmaceutical sector as the result of an agreement negotiated between the manufacturer and the PCT in the context of the Medicines Procurement Commission (CAM); it is not used for procurement under a tendering process.
The data notified are the relevant information available at the time of preparing the notification. Consideration is currently being given to the possibility of improving them, where necessary.