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Diplomacy in Action

2012 Investment Climate Statement - Cote d'Ivoire


2012 Investment Climate Statement
Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
June 2012
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Openness to Foreign Investment

Cote d’Ivoire is returning to peace and political stability after an attempted coup in September 2002 resulted in a civil war and a nine-year political/military crisis in which the country was split in two. President Alassane Ouattara was formally inaugurated on May 21and legislative elections, judged by international observers to be free and fair, were held in November of 2011. The Ivorian economy is recovering not only from the violence and damage to infrastructure of the post-election crisis, but also a decade of neglect and degradation. The economy is experiencing a faster recovery than was initially expected with a GDP growth forecast by the IMF of between 8 and 9 percent for 2012. On October 25, 2011, the US Government granted Cote d’Ivoire re-certification as a beneficiary country under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

The Ivorian government actively encourages foreign investment through mergers, acquisitions, joint ventures, takeovers, or startups. As part of Cote d’Ivoire’s post-crisis economic reconstruction, the Ivorian government would like foreign investment to double over the next several years. It is not unusual for high-ranking Ivorian officials, including the President, to meet with potential foreign investors. There are no significant limits on foreign investment nor are there generally differences in treatment of foreign and national investors, either in terms of the level of foreign ownership or sector of investment. The government does not screen investments and has no overall economic and industrial strategy that discriminates against foreign-owned firms. There are no laws specifically authorizing private firms to adopt articles of incorporation or association that limit or prohibit foreign investment, participation, or control and no such practices have been reported.

Foreign companies are free to invest and list on the regional stock exchange (BRVM), which is based in Abidjan and is dominated by Ivorian and Senegalese firms. With the inception of the regional exchange, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) members established the Regional Council for Savings and Investment, a regional securities regulatory body.

The GOCI is planning to revise the investment code to further encourage the creation of local processing industries, particularly in the cocoa and coffee sector. The new code should offer incentives including tax breaks for private investors that would process locally high value- added products before exports. Under the code, three new industrial zones will be created as well as a court for commercial litigation. The existing 1995 Investment Code was designed to boost private sector investment and increase national production. The code includes incentives, such as tax breaks, for large investments and for investments outside of Abidjan and other urban industrial areas. The Petroleum Investment Code and Mining Code are currently in the review process. The existing codes encourage foreign investment in these sectors by exempting them from income and other taxes. Current exemptions extend to the value added tax on equipment, materials and the first consignment of spare parts, except when there are equivalent products either made in Cote d'Ivoire or available in country at similar cost.

The tax schedule, as revised in 2006, includes fiscal measures to reduce the corporate tax burden and stimulate economic activity. These measures include: A corporate income tax of 27 percent and the awarding of a three-year corporate income tax exemption and free tax registration for the return of companies that left the country as a result of the crisis. In 2011, the post crisis tax incentives included a suspension of the 2011 road tax, a 50% reduction in trade tax, a 50 % reduction in the land tax and the cancellation of income tax arrears collected before January 1, 2010.

Cote d'Ivoire has an investment promotion center, CEPICI (Centre des Promotion des Investissements en Cote d’Ivoire, (www.cepici.ci), which provides investment information and assistance for entrepreneurs interested in starting a business or foreign enterprises interested in investing in Cote d'Ivoire. CEPICI provides a "one-stop-shop" for investors, an outreach program to match opportunities with potential investors, and a public-private liaison program. CEPICI also maintains a file of projects seeking foreign investment.

The government does not use tax, labor, environment, or health and safety laws to impede or distort investment. Well-entrenched foreign companies historically have formed relationships with GOCI officials—who frequently influence the awarding of tenders. Additionally, larger firms (which in many cases are foreign companies) face particular government requests and barriers (e.g., caps on market share or pressure with regard to pre-payment of taxes) that smaller businesses (which in many cases are Ivorian companies) do not face. There is no sector, however, where American investors have been formally refused the same treatment as other foreign investors. While the government has expressed its commitment to a free and fair bidding process bids have not always been made public. The government sometimes simply chooses from among companies that have proactively contacted it about an investment opportunity rather than proceeding through a public bid process. In August 2009, the government adopted a new public procurement code to enhance transparency in the bidding procedures. The main changes included the separation of the auditing and regulatory functions and the harmonization of national texts with the WAEMU directives.

The government has privatized some parastatal enterprises, and intends to seek additional privatizations. In past privatizations, such as for management of the Port of Abidjan and for management of the electric and water companies, well-entrenched French companies with extensive histories in Cote d’Ivoire won, which led to allegations of corruption on the part of losing investors.

There are some limitations on foreign investment worth noting. Many foreign investors see corruption, especially in the judicial system, as a major impediment to investment in Cote d’Ivoire. Some foreign investors have described extraordinary difficulty and lengthy delays in establishing investment in Cote d’Ivoire. The World Bank’s 2011 “Doing Business” report ranks Cote d’Ivoire 167 of 183 countries evaluated. There are restrictions on foreign investment in the health sector, law and accounting firms, and travel agencies. As a means to monitor foreign exchange flows, for example, the external finance and credit office of the Finance Ministry must approve investments from outside the West African Franc (FCFA) zone. Despite regulations designed to control land speculation, in urban areas, foreigners own significant amounts of land. Free-hold tenure outside of urban areas, despite land reform, is difficult. Most businesses, including agribusinesses and forestry companies, opt for long-term leases.

Key Economic Indicators

Measure

Year

Index/Ranking

TI Corruption

2011

154 of 182

Heritage Economic Freedom

2011

122 of 179

World Bank Doing Business

2011

167 of 183

MCC Gov’t Effectiveness

2012

22%

MCC Rule of Law

2012

25%

MCC Control of Corruption

2012

22%

MCC Fiscal Policy

2012

75%

MCC Trade Policy

2012

57%

MCC Regulatory Quality

2012

36%

MCC Business Start Up

2012

20%

MCC Land Rights Access

2012

7%

MCC Natural Resource Mgmt

2012

83%

Conversion and Transfer Policies

Cote d'Ivoire is a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU), which uses the Franc CFA (FCFA), a convertible currency. The French Central Bank continues to hold the international reserves of WAEMU member states and maintains a fixed rate of 655.956 CFA to the Euro.

WAEMU has unified foreign exchange regulations. Under these regulations, there are no restrictions for transfers within the community, and designated commercial banks are able to approve routine foreign exchange transactions inside the community. The transfer abroad of the proceeds of liquidation of foreign direct investments no longer requires prior government approval.

Despite the ability to transfer funds freely within the WAEMU zone, when Ivoirians and expatriate residents are traveling from Cote d'Ivoire to another WAEMU country, they must declare the amount of currency being carried out of the country. When traveling from Cote d'Ivoire to a destination other than another WAEMU country, Ivoirians and expatriate residents are prohibited from carrying an amount of currency greater than the equivalent of two million CFA francs (approximately USD 3,960). Larger amounts require the approval of the Ministry of Economy and Finance, and must be in travelers or bank checks.

The Government must grant prior permission for investments coming from outside the WAEMU zone, and routinely does so. Once an investment is established and documented, the Government regularly approves remittances of dividends and/or repatriation of capital. The same holds true for requests for other sorts of transactions -- e.g., imports, licenses, and royalty fees.

Multi-national firms in Cote d’Ivoire have complained that temporary liquidity shortfalls sometimes occur in the banking system. These problems are particularly of concern during the main cocoa harvest when companies are trying to transfer large sums of money as cocoa is purchased and exported. Companies continue to complain that the Government is slow in approving currency conversions.

Expropriation and Compensation

Cote d'Ivoire's public expropriation law includes compensation provisions similar to those in the United States. Historically, expropriation has not been an issue in Cote d'Ivoire, and the Embassy is not aware of any cases of government expropriation of private property.

Private expropriation as a means to force settlement of contractual or investment disputes continues to be a problem. Investors should be aware that local individuals or local companies using what appear to be spurious court decisions have challenged the ownership of some foreign companies in recent years. On occasion the Government has blocked the bank accounts of U.S. and other foreign companies because of ownership and tax disputes. Corruption and lack of capacity in the judicial system and security services has resulted in poor enforcement of private property rights, even in the sensitive cocoa sector, particularly when the expropriated entity is foreign held and the expropriator is Ivorian or is a long-term French or Lebanese resident of Cote d’Ivoire.

Dispute Settlement

The judicial system is dysfunctional and there is political consensus on the need to reform the system. Enforcement of contract rights is often time-consuming and expensive as court cases move slowly. Judges sometimes fail to base their decisions on the legal or contractual merits of the case and tend to rule against foreign investors in favor of entrenched interests. In addition, cases are often postponed and appealed again and again, moving from court to court, in some cases for decades. It is widely believed that magistrates are sometimes subject to political or financial influence. To counteract this, some investors stipulate in contracts that disputes must be settled through international commercial arbitration. However, even if stipulated in the contract, decisions reached through international arbitration, and even through the African regional arbitration body, are sometimes not honored by local courts.

Given that the average time from filing to resolution of a contract dispute is eight years, the Government established an arbitration tribunal in 1999 for businesses to settle commercial disputes without going to court. The arbitration court is supposed to provide alternative modes of conflict resolution including arbitration, conciliation, mediation and expertise.

In July 2004, the business community welcomed the expansion of the arbitration tribunal’s mandate to include participation of local chambers of commerce. The business community was also pleased at the tribunal's ability to enforce awards more quickly. However, use of the tribunal in lieu of the court system has been limited; in the past ten years it has heard only 114 cases (18 in 2010). In addition to its local arbitration board, Cote d'Ivoire is a member of the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes. The Abidjan-based, regional Joint Court of Justice and Arbitration provides an alternative means of solving contractual disputes.

On January 12, 2012, the Council of Ministers established the Commercial Court to handle business cases. The other reform efforts are likely to be scheduled once the new parliament that was elected in December 2011 opens its working sessions. Under the pending reform plans, the GOCI would dismantle the Supreme Court, and divide its authority among several independent institutions. The current Judicial Chamber of the Supreme Court would become the High Appeals Court (Cour de Cassation). It would handle civil, penal, social, and labor cases when it deems that a lower court did not adequately apply the law. The current Administrative Chamber of the Supreme Court would become the Council of State (Conseil d'Etat), which would hear cases involving the State or public authorities or cases against the Government. The current Account Chamber of the Supreme Court would become a separate and independent Court of Auditors (Cour de Comptes), examining the accounts of the State and of local government, and hearing financial cases.

Further reform plans call for deciding more cases by three-judge panels, instead of by a single judge; publishing decisions more quickly; enhancing computerization in the court system; training judges in commercial law; and increasing the number of appeals courts to reduce the backlog of commercial cases.

Cote d'Ivoire has both commercial and bankruptcy laws that address liquidation of business liabilities. The Uniform Acts for the Organization and Harmonization of Business Law (OHADA) is a collection of uniform laws on bankruptcy, debt collections, and the rules governing business transactions. The OHADA permits three different types of bankruptcy liquidation: an ordered suspension of payment to permit a negotiated settlement, an ordered suspension of payment to permit restructuring of the company, similar to Chapter 11, and the complete liquidation of assets, similar to Chapter 7. Creditors' rights, irrespective of nationality, are protected equally by the Act. Monetary judgments devolving from a bankruptcy are usually paid out in local currency.

At present, there are no investment disputes involving U.S. firms in Cote d’Ivoire.

Performance Requirements and Incentives

Cote d'Ivoire does not maintain any regulations inconsistent with WTO Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMS). There are no general performance requirements applied to investments, nor does the government or the investment authority generally place conditions on location, local content, equity ownership, import substitution, export requirements, host country employment, technology transfer, or local financing. Cellular telephone operating companies must meet technology and performance requirements to maintain their licenses. The Investment Code, the Petroleum Code, and the Mining Code, currently being revised, define the incentives available to new investors in Cote d'Ivoire.

Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Foreign investors generally have access to all forms of remunerative activity on terms equal to those enjoyed by Ivoirians. The government encourages foreign investment in the privatization of state-owned and parastatal firms, though in most cases the state reserves an equity stake in the new company.

The government wants to reduce the number of public enterprises by 25 percent and to introduce performance contracts for public corporations and majority-owned public companies. In January 2005, the Council of Ministers approved measures to liberalize the telecommunications sector. The legislation had remained blocked; however, it is likely to be passed into law once the new National Assembly has been constituted. For the time being, the Ivorian regulatory agency continues to function under the authority granted to it by the 1995 telecommunications code. The new rules, as drafted, will end France Telecom's fixed-line monopoly through its subsidiary, Cote d'Ivoire Telecom. A new regulatory agency would also be created to manage the fully competitive market.

Banks and insurance companies are subject to licensing requirements, but there are no restrictions aimed at limiting foreign ownership or the establishment of subsidiaries of foreign companies in this sector. There are no restrictions on foreign investment in computer services, or education and training services. However, there are restrictions on foreign investment in the health sector, law and accounting firms, and travel agencies. Investments in these sectors are subject to prior approval and require appropriate licenses and association with an Ivorian partner. Foreign companies operate successfully in all these service sectors.

Protection of Property Rights

Ivoirian civil code provides for enforcement of private property rights. The concept of mortgages exists, but mortgage lending is not well developed. There is no secondary market for mortgages. Property and title registration systems exist in Cote d’Ivoire. The legal system protects and facilitates the acquisition and disposition of all property rights including land, buildings and mortgages.

Outside of urban areas, private individuals or entities usually cannot obtain freehold tenure because the traditional property rights of villages and ethnic groups prevent the land from being sold. In urban areas where land is not held as a "tenancy in common" by a tribal or village head but is considered to be owned individually, it can still be difficult to obtain a free-hold deed to property even years after a closing. For that reason, most individuals and businesses tend to sign long-term leases. Although the legal system recognizes the right to contract for leaseholds in both urban and rural areas, in most cases traditional tribal land-owners do not have a clear understanding of property rights. This complicates the enforcement of property rights in rural areas. In addition, because free-hold tenure by individuals is not generally permitted in rural areas, would-be borrowers often have difficulty using real estate as collateral for loans. Even in urban settings the mortgage market is not well developed. As part of the legislative reforms mandated by the Linas-Marcoussis Peace agreement, in July 2004, the National Assembly adopted amendments to the law on rural-land ownership. This new law provides very limited free-hold ownership for rural lands, which had been traditionally held as a tenancy in common by villages. Rights are only protected, however, if the owner can provide proof of ownership through an assignment deed or purchase contract.

The Ivorian Civil Code protects the acquisition and disposition of intellectual property rights. Legal protection for intellectual property may fall short of TRIPS standards due to uneven law enforcement and the lack of custom checks in porous borders, which permit trade of counterfeit textiles, pharmaceutical products, and vehicle parts. Cote d'Ivoire is a party to the Paris Convention, its 1958 revision, and the 1977 Bangui Agreement covering 16 Francophone African countries in the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI), which has been TRIPS compliant since 2002. Under OAPI, rights registered in one member country are valid for other member states. Patents are valid for ten years, with the possibility of two five-year extensions. Trademarks are valid for ten years and are renewable indefinitely. Copyrights are valid for 50 years.

In 2001, Ivorian experts drafted a new law in an effort to bring Cote d’Ivoire into conformity with TRIPS. The new law adds specific protection for computer programs, databases, and extension of copyrights with regard to rented films and videos. However, the National Assembly has not yet approved this legislation. Cote d’Ivoire has not signed the WIPO internet treaties.

The government's Office of Industrial Property (OIPI) is charged with ensuring the protection of patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and commercial names. The office faces many challenges, including insufficient resources, a lack of political will and the post-crisis reconstruction. As a result, enforcement of IPR is largely ineffective. Foreign companies, especially from East and South Asia, flood the Ivorian market with all types of counterfeit goods. Despite enforcement difficulties, the government is working to strengthen IPR protection. In 2007, the Ministry of Industry, through the OIPI, issued a draft bill on protection of IPR at the border to provide legal provisions for addressing counterfeiting. The new bill would prohibit the entry and exit of goods infringing IPR by Customs. This will allow customs to detain the shipment of goods suspected of infringement, to investigate the status of infringement of goods etc. Further, Cote d’Ivoire’s law on mandatory registration of commercial names came into effect in February 2006.

The Ivoirian Copyright Office (BURIDA) put into effect a new sticker system in January 2004 to prevent counterfeiting and protect audio, video, literary and artistic property rights in music and computer programs. BURIDA's operations were hampered by a long-running dispute between the management and the board over policy and leadership issues. To resolve the crisis at BURIDA, in March 2006 the Minister of Culture established a temporary administration, as well as a commission to reform BURIDA. Since its establishment, the new administration has boosted its fight against audiovisual piracy including raids against retail outlets and street vendors of pirated CDs and DVDs, and instituted legal proceedings against persons involved in fraudulent copying of audiovisual materials. Additionally, in 2007 BURIDA brokered an accord with the Ivorian music industry to reduce prices on locally produced CDs by 66 percent in an innovative effort to undercut IPR piracy. BURIDA runs regular programs promoting IPR enforcement with lawyers and magistrates. In November 2008, the President signed a decree reforming BURIDA and changing its legal status from an association to a civil corporation. This change was intended to give BURIDA more autonomy and a more business-like focus. On July, 25, 2009 a new BURIDA board was elected.

The new copyright law signed in 2010, which provides more severe penalties for counterfeiters contributed to reducing the sales of pirated CDs and DVDs on the market.

Transparency of Regulatory System

The Government has taken some steps toward encouraging a more transparent and competitive economic environment, while the IMF, World Bank, European Union, and other large donors have pushed the Government to make reforms. Proposed laws and regulations have not been published in draft form for public comments. The National Assembly debates most legislation. The Government often holds public seminars and workshops to discuss proposed plans with trade and industry associations.

A centralized office of public bids in the Finance Ministry was designed to ensure compliance with international bidding practices by providing a neutral body to make bidding decisions in a transparent and objective fashion based on clear criteria. In addition to the Office of Public Bids, there is also an Inspector General's office and regulatory bodies for the liberalized electricity and telecommunications sectors.

In 2005, the Ministry of Finance introduced institutional changes in the new public procurement code. These changes include:

· The decentralization of operational functions to make ministerial departments, local governments and other government structures accountable for the management of public resources

· The creation of consultative public procurement commissions in charge of examining extraordinary decisions

· The reinforcement of public procurement coordination through new regulations, training, procedural controls and more open and transparent communication with the interested public

· The establishment of an appeals mechanism

  • The reinforcement of auditing in the public procurement process

On August 6, 2009, the Ivoirian government adopted a community framework for public procurement by incorporating WAEMU Directives 4 and 5 on bidding process and auditing as well as regulation of public procurement within the Union. The new public procurement code aims to harmonize public procurement policy and comply with WAEMU integration objectives. The changes include the separation of auditing and regulating functions, the passage from the national to the community preference, the taking into account of procurement for intellectual services and the increase from 25 to 30 percent of advance payment for the startup of procurement of goods, works and services. Another change is the creation of the National Regulatory Authority for Public Procurement, which has financial autonomy and is charged with monitoring the application of good governance principles; it may sanction those who do not comply with public procurement regulations.

From 1999–2008, several private and public institutions with producer, industry, and government representation were tasked with controlling and regulating Cote d’Ivoire’s cocoa and coffee sector. These groups were neither efficient nor transparent and became the subject of controversy regarding their fiduciary mismanagement. In September 2008, after several leaders of these regulatory boards were jailed on corruption charges, the President dissolved the cocoa regulating bodies and established a management committee to regulate and reform the cocoa and coffee sector. Under direction from the World Bank and IMF, the government is in the process of implementing new reforms in the cocoa and coffee sector, notably by establishing a new entity charged with the sector’s regulation and management.

The Ministry of Economy and Finance has at times changed tax regimes overnight via ministerial decree, rather than working through the Council of Ministers and the National Assembly. The government sometimes levies large tax bills, which companies say have little basis in law or standard accounting practices. It then negotiates a lower bill with the company.

In December 2008, the Ministry of Commerce unilaterally established a new fee on imports, in the amount of CFA 30,000 to 40,000 (USD 60 to 80), depending on the type of import. Many businesses reported that they received no receipts for paying the fee. With strong resistance from the business community, which argued that the Ministry had no legal basis for imposing the fee, the Government suspended the fee.

Efficient Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

Government policies generally encourage the free flow of capital. Cote d’Ivoire's commercial banking sector is generally sound, though banking operations were severely affected by the post electoral crisis during which all foreign-owned banks closed-. Management at the country’s 5 state-owned banks, which remained opened during the crisis, has been replaced in a first step towards containing losses and creating a restructuring strategy to address underlying problems. The Banque Central des Etats de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (BCEAO) recently reported that the nonperforming loans ratio deteriorated to 18.8 percent of the total in 2011, up from 16.4 percent at the end of 2010 due to the effects of the post electoral crisis on small and medium sized businesses. The 50 bank branches that were closed in the former rebel zones at the height of the military/political crisis are reopening. Banks are expanding their networks increasing total bank branches from 281 in 2008 to 473 agencies in 2010. Though credit allocation remains moderate compared to current funding needs, banks have restarted lending offering short-term and long term loans, and generally make lending and investment decisions on business criteria; however, credit for business expansion remains difficult to obtain. .

According to the Central Bank of West African States, as of December 31, 2010, the following Ivorian banks had USD 20 million or more in total assets (figures have been converted from FCFA to USD at an exchange rate of 500 FCFA to 1 USD):

Banque Nationale d’Investissement (BNI): USD 41.0 million

Banque Internationale pour le Commerce et l’Industrie de la Cote d’Ivoire: USD 33.3 million

Société Générale de Banques en Cote d’Ivoire: USD 31.1 million

Standard Chartered Bank – Cote d’Ivoire: USD 20.6 million

Banque Internationale pour l'Afrique Occidentale: USD 20.0 million

At the end of 2010, total assets of the 22 banks and one credit institution were FCFA 2.9 trillion (about USD 5.8 billion), an increase of 16 percent from 2009 figures.

Government and private bonds are available for purchase by individuals or companies. During the post-election crisis regular auctions of Treasury securities were no longer possible, to limit the impact on the regional banking system, the BCEAO agreed to roll over maturing Ivoirian T-bills. The GOCI recently reached an agreement with banks to its stock of short-term securities. Cote d’Ivoire has been able to return to the regional market with longer term securities. In September 2011, the government of Cote d’Ivoire launched a new 5-year bond. The Regional Stock Market (BVRM) returned to Abidjan in 2011, after temporarily relocating as a result of the post-electoral crisis. Dominated by Ivorian and Senegalese firms, the BVRM has a market capitalization of approximately USD 5 billion with 38 companies listed. The Regional Council for Savings Investments regulates the WAEMU securities exchanges market. Ivorian accounting systems are well developed and approach international norms. A WAEMU-wide accounting system-SYSCOA, under which all member countries follow the same accounting rules, is firmly in place.

The FCFA exchange rate is pegged to the Euro at 655.957 FCFA to one Euro. As a consequence, the FCFA/USD rate fluctuates freely with the Euro/USD rate.

There is no evidence of “cross shareholding” and “stable shareholders” to restrict foreign investment through mergers and acquisitions in Cote d’Ivoire.

Corporate Social Responsibility

There is not a general awareness of corporate social responsibility in Cote d’Ivoire., Foreign businesses, particularly in mining, petroleum, and cocoa industries provide social infrastructures including: schools and health care clinics to communities close to their sites of operation. Cocoa companies have been active supporting programs to improve sustainability in the sector and working to combat the worst forms of child labor.

Political Violence

Cote d’Ivoire has struggled through a decade of internal conflict in which the country was divided in two and a violent four month post-election struggle as the incumbent Laurent Gbagbo refused to cede power to the internationally recognized winner of the elections Alassane Ouattara. Gbagbo was capture in April by Ivorian forces and President Ouattara was officially inaugurated in May 2011. There has been no further politically motivated violence. Legislative elections were peacefully held in December 2011 and judged by international observers to be free and fair. Politically motivated demonstrations and strikes by workers’ unions in the health, education, transport, and cocoa sectors have occurred. No protests have been directed against American or foreign businesses.

Corruption

Many companies cite corruption as the major obstacle to investment in Cote d’Ivoire. It has the greatest impact on judicial proceedings, contract awards, customs, and tax issues. It has been common for judges to base decisions on financial influence. Businesses have reported corruption at every level of the civil service. Obtaining an official stamp or copy of a birth or death certificate, or an automobile title, requires payment of a supplemental "commission." If the commission is refused, the application is not processed. The size of the commission varies with the cost of the service or investment. Some investors have raised specific concerns about the rule of law and the government's ability to provide equal protection under the law.

There are domestic laws and regulations to combat corruption but they are neither generally nor effectively enforced. Penalties can range from incarceration to payment of civil fines. State employees can be convicted of either passive or active corruption or bribery in the performance of their duties. The law also provides for punishment of state employees who benefit directly or indirectly from private or parastatal companies related to contracts, markets or financial payment under their purview. Company managers who are complicit in the corrupting act are treated as accomplices. A local company may not deduct a bribe to a foreign official from taxes. Under the Ivoirian Penal Code, a bribe by a local company to a foreign official is a criminal act. Cote d'Ivoire has signed the UN Anti-corruption Convention on December 10, 2003, but has not yet ratified it. The country is not a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery. The new ministerial cabinet has signed a new code of ethics to fight corruption and nepotism in public duty. The 10 Point Code of Ethics include: patriotism, respect for dignity and human life, the primacy of the public interest, solidarity and cohesion, good governance, accountability, integrity, justice and equity, continued dialog, responsibility, and civility, courtesy and moderation.

Racketeering by security and defense forces is often denounced in the media and receives wide attention from the authorities and the population. Transport companies have been particularly hard hit. Trucks moving cargo from the western agricultural belt to Abidjan and between Abidjan and the ex-CNO (center, north and west) region pay a total of $100 to $400 at the various checkpoints they must pass through, depending on the cargo. The GOCI has recognized the importance of reducing illegal checkpoints, particularly with regard to transport costs, and in 2011 authorized only 33 legal checkpoints in the entire country as part of an anti- racketeering campaign. The gendarmerie has established a new anti-corruption force .The campaign has led to a substantial reduction in police check points on major roadways; however, it has not yet yielded results concerning racketeering by security forces. There are several governmental entities in charge of fighting corruption: the General Secretariat in Charge of Good Governance, the Board of State General Inspectors, and the Finance Ministry's Inspector General's Office. None has been effective in stamping out this problem. Transparency International‘s 2011 “Corruption Perception Index” has ranked Cote d’Ivoire 154th of 182 countries.

The country’s financial intelligence unit, Cellule Nationale de Traitement des Informations Financières (CENTIF), established in December 2007, is responsible for investigating money laundering and terrorist financing. CENTIF has broad authority to investigate suspicious financial transactions, including those of government officials.

Bilateral Investment Agreements

There are no bilateral investment or taxation treaties between Cote d'Ivoire and the United States.

OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs

OPIC insures several U.S. investments in Cote d'Ivoire although the overall exposure is relatively small. Since 1999, OPIC has not issued any new investment insurance policies in Cote d'Ivoire, and in 2003, OPIC withdrew its underwriting agreement for Cote d’Ivoire. The African Project Development Facility (APDF) and the African Investment Program of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) may assist investors now that its parent, the World Bank, is reengaged in Cote d’Ivoire. Cote d'Ivoire is a member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).

Labor

The Constitution and the Labor Code grant all citizens, except members of the police and military, the right to form or join unions, and workers exercise these rights. Registration of a new union takes three months. Despite these protections, only a small percentage of the work force is actually organized. Most laborers work in the informal sector (i.e. small farms, small roadside stands, and urban workshops). Anti-union discrimination is prohibited. There have not been reports of anti-union discrimination, and consequently, no known prosecutions or convictions under this law. Unions are free to join international bodies, and the General Workers Union of Cote d'Ivoire (UGTCI) was affiliated with the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions. The Constitution additionally provides for collective bargaining, and the Labor Code grants all citizens, except members of the police and military services, the right to bargain collectively. Collective bargaining agreements are in effect in many major business enterprises and sectors of the civil service. In most cases in which wages were not established by direct negotiations between unions and employers, the Ministry of Employment and Civil Service establishes salaries by job categories. The Constitution and statutes provide for the right to strike, and the Government generally protects this right. However, the Labor Code requires a protracted series of negotiations and a six-day notification period before a strike may take place, making legal strikes difficult to organize.

In February 2004, the Minister of Employment and Civil Service and the Minister of Economy and Finance signed a decree aimed at promoting national employment. This decree favors the employment of Ivoirians in private enterprises. The decree states that any position to be filled must be advertised for two months. If after two months no qualified Ivorian is found, the employer is allowed to recruit a foreigner, provided that he plans to recruit an Ivorian to fill the position in the next two years. The foreign employee must be given a labor contract. Until recently, in order to reside in Cote d’Ivoire for more than three months, foreigners were required to have a “carte de sejour” that cost the equivalent of a month’s salary each year. Representatives of UEMOA harshly criticized the requirement and claimed that it violated Article 91 of the UEMOA Treaty, which permits the free movement of persons for employment within the union. In November 2007, then President Gbagbo signed a decree suspending the carte de sejour requirement for ECOWAS citizens. It does not appear that elimination of the carte de sejour requirement has had a significant effect on employment opportunities in Cote d’Ivoire.

Foreign-Trade Zones/Free Ports

Created in 2008, the free trade zone for information technology and biotechnology (VITIB) is located in Grand Bassam. Business operations have commenced with approximately 50 companies registered. The trade zone’s performance has failed to meet expectations and the government is attempting to realign the trade zone’s objectives. There are not other free trade zones in Cote d’Ivoire. A free trade zone project was planned for the port of San Pedro, but remains dormant. Bonded warehouses do exist, and bonded zones within factories are allowed. High port costs and maritime freight rates have inhibited the development of in-bond manufacturing or processing, and there are consequently no general foreign trade zones.

Major Foreign Investors

According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s World Investment Report, the stock of foreign direct investment in Cote d’Ivoire as of 2010 was an estimated USD 6.6 billion, the equivalent of 28.9 percent of that year’s GDP. In terms of FDI stock, France is Cote d’Ivoire leading investor, followed by other European countries and Lebanon. Chinese, Indian, Libyan, Singaporean, and Moroccan businesses have begun making significant investments in Cote d’Ivoire. U.S. firms are not a large source of FDI in Cote d’Ivoire, but have made major investments in oil and gas, banking, cocoa, and international courier services.

Foreign Direct Investment Statistics

CEPICI has published the following figures on FDI flows to Cote d’Ivoire per sector for 2010. However, these figures do not include all FDI flows in 2010.


Foreign Direct Investment inflow by Sector, 2010 (USD) Sector

Investment

Percentage

Food

150,640,000

34%

Mechanic, Iron & Steel

17,800,000

4%

Mining Industry

10,420,000

2%

Health

5,680,000

1%

Tourism & Hotel

76,000,000

17%

Trade

45,000,000

10%

Service

83,000,000

19%

Printing Industry

4,240,000

1%

Wood

2,560,000

1%

Oil & Gas

8,680,000

2%

Chemicals

5,820,000

1%

     

Cosmetics

34,540,000

8%

Total

444,380,000

100%

Source: Ivoirian Investment Promotion Authority (CEPICI) Average exchange rate CFAF 500 per USD.

CEPICI has published the following figures on FDI flows to Cote d’Ivoire by country of origin for 2010. However, these figures include only a small fraction of FDI flows in 2010.

Countries

Investment

Percentage

France

78,880,000

52%

Spain

1,139,894

7%

Luxembourg

123,492

0%

Great Britain

7,456,000

5%

Swiss

9,848,487

7%

Lebanon

5,458, 752

4%

Russia

4,178,146

3%

Italy

236,693

0%

Belgium

1,049,682

1%

China

12,868,128

9%

India

17,360,928

12%

UAE

1,755,936

1%

Total

150,344,138

100%

Source: CEPICI. Table does not represent all the flow investments by origin Average exchange rate CFAF 500 per one USD. CEPICI does not include investment from resident Lebanese in FDI figures.




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