U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.


Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


  1. Home
  2. Document Library

Handicraft Export Initiative

handicraft tunisia








After agriculture, the artisan sector provides the second largest number of jobs in developing and emerging markets, providing a powerful pathway out of poverty for millions. It is essential for income distribution and job growth across socio-economic levels, in particular for women, who may constitute up to 80% of the sector. It is also a significant vector of political and social stability as it employs people living in remote areas, those who don’t have access to higher education, or other communities with limited economic opportunities. The handicraft sector employs over 350,000 people in Tunisia and one million in Algeria and in Morocco.

Today, it is an estimated $32 billion a year industry according to the Aspen Institute, Artisan Alliance, including a $10 billion import market in the U.S. alone. The goal of CLDP’s handicraft initiative is to help artisans capture a larger portion of that international market. However, serious obstacles remain that make it difficult for artisans to take full advantage of the high demand for their products. For instance, most artisan enterprises are small and undercapitalized, and they suffer from limited access to financial services. Highly seasonal sales, relatively illiquid inventories, and constantly changing consumer preferences result in unpredictable cash flows, impeding their ability to plan for and invest in the future. Artisan entrepreneurs are also challenged by an inability to tap into established supply chains. With many of their potential buyers located abroad, their success is limited by a lack of contacts, language barriers, informal and unstructured markets in which intermediaries operate with few, if any, contractual standards, and somewhat complex permitting, shipping, and customs procedures.

CLDP’s handicraft export initiative, working in close partnership with local ministries, focuses on helping artisans in North Africa gain the business skills and technical knowledge they need to sustain and grow their operations in order to increase their commercial activities. At this time, these activities include the following:

  • Export Procedures: Training exercises on streamlining of export methods, authorization procedures, customs, and shipping for artisanal products, attended by artisans and cooperatives, and stakeholders, including government personnel in charge of permitting, licensing, and certification as well as shipping and freight forwarding.
  • Import Procedures: Training exercises featuring experts from both U.S. Customs and Border Protection and local customs agencies as well as artisans to increase local capacity, at the artisan and customs operations levels, to export goods to the U.S.

To further facilitate artisans’ capacity to participate in export and import markets, CLDP has also produced two practical guides which aim to facilitate the export of Tunisian and Moroccan handicrafts to the U.S. The guides focus on the technical aspects of handicraft export, including meeting the expectations of the U.S. market, contractual agreements, export standards, shipping, and payments. The French-language guides can be viewed at the below pages:

           Tunisia -  Guide Pratique d'Export de l'Artisinat Tunisien vers les Etats-Unis
           Morocco - Guide Pratique d'Export de l'Artisinat Marocain vers les Etats-Uni

Furthermore, CLDP offers handicraft expo preparation training, to assist artisans to participate in handicraft expos both domestically and internationally.

  • eCommerce Training: This effort aims to assess the ability of artisans to participate in eCommerce including managing electronic payment, and to increase their capacity to handle an eCommerce stream for their goods.
  • Handicraft Export Marketing Toolkit: Created to provide global artisan enterprises the knowledge and resources to market effectively to international consumers and increase sales with wholesale customers and professional buyers, the toolkit also provides government agencies dealing with handicraft export promotion guidance on establishing training programs to help artisan enterprises meet the expectations of the international market. For more information about the toolkit, please visit the following pages:

    Handicraft Export Marketing Toolkit (English)
    Le kit de marketing à l'exportation de l'artisanat (Français)