Openness to Foreign Investment

In order to create a business in the Republic of Congo, investors must provide the CFE (“Centre de Formalites des Entreprises”) two copies of the company by-laws, two copies of capitalization documents (i.e. Bank’s letter or Affidavit), a copy of the company’s investment strategy, the company approved financial statement (if available), and ownership documents or lease agreements for the company’s office in ROC.

The CFE is designed to provide all services under one roof in order to facilitate the opening and closing of businesses.

CFE has offices in Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, N’kayi, Ouesso and Dolisie.

The Investment Charter, established by Law 6–2003 on January 18, 2003, offers a range of guarantees to foreign investors including no discrimination or disqualification on types of investment and equal justice under Congolese law.

The cost of registering a business depends on the type of company one is trying to register. Registration fees range from USD $244 for a small company with a capitalization below two thousand dollars, to USD $4,444 for a large company with a capitalization that exceeds two hundred thousand dollars.

A local partner is not required to start up a business in Congo. The entire business registration process should take an average of three weeks, according to the CFE’s Secretary General. There are additional government licensing and permit requirements, depending on the nature of the business.

Congo has an investment code adopted in 1994 that provides a framework to protect investments and investors. In addition, Congo is party to OHADA (Organisation pour l’harmonisation du droits des affairs en Afrique), a type of commercial code for 16 African countries that governs investments and business practices. (Members include all countries that are members of ECOWAS and CEMAC as well as Mauritius and Madagascar).

OHADA registration applies to all countries in the zone.

There are no known pending lawsuits regarding to the investment code in Congolese commercial courts.

Lawsuits have been filed at OHADA’s tribunal in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire relating to investors doing business in the Republic of Congo. In principle, the judicial system upholds the sanctity of contracts; parties also may appeal to foreign or international justice courts for any necessary relief.

Investors report that the commercial environment in the Congo has improved and they feel they have good working relations with government officials.

Anti-Corruption

The national Anti-Corruption Commission was created in September 2009 by the Anti-Corruption Law. The commission’s main function is to manage and track the implementation of anti-corruption and governance enhancement measures adopted by the government.

The Republic of Congo reached completion point in the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt relief process on January 28, 2010. The Republic of Congo has made tremendous progress on budgetary control according the Joint IMF and World Bank mission that visited Brazzaville in November 2009

The reforms to which the Republic of Congo has committed include bringing the internal controls and accounting system of the state-owned oil company (SNPC) up to internationally recognized standards; preventing conflicts of interests in the marketing of oil; requiring officials of SNPC to publicly declare and divest any interests in companies having a business relationship with SNPC; and implementing an anti-corruption action plan with international support, monitored by the IMF.

A blossoming economy

The Congo Brazzaville seeks to attract foreign investment on its territory with the aim of diversifying its sources of development. With its rich natural resources, the country doesn`t lack in attractions. - The country is attracting more and more foreign investors, such as China, Europe, in search of oil or minerals.

Today, the Congo Brazzaville is strengthening its ties with the Indian giant. Trade agreements are also about to be signed with Portugal.

These new partnerships will foster the development of economic exchanges with the rest of the world and facilitate the blossoming economy

Congo’s economy relies primarily on exploitation of natural resources rather than industrial production, hence foreign direct investment is concentrated in the oil and forestry sectors. The government has increased its activity to attract investments in the telecommunications and banking sectors, and investment s in both sectors have been rising.

Total Congolese exports to the U.S. were valued at USD $5.04 billion in 2008 and consisted mainly of oil and mineral fuels, as well as wood products. Goods imported to the Republic of Congo from the U.S. were valued at USD $183 million in 2008 and consisted of vehicles, machinery, chemicals, and meat products such as chicken.

The 2008 balance of trade with the U.S. was USD $4.85 billion.

GDP was USD $13.8 billion in 2009 and USD $15.39 billion in 2008. GDP per capita was USD $1,540 in 2009, USD $1,479 in 2008, USD $1,492 in 2007, USD $1,442 in 2006 and USD $1,356 in 2005. Real GDP grew at an estimated rate of 6.4 percent in 2009, 3.7 percent in 2007, 6.1 percent in 2006 and 7.8 percent in 2005.