Cote d'Ivoire

Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
Report
June 29, 2017

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Executive SummaryShare    

Côte d’Ivoire offers fertile soil for U.S. investment, and the Ivoirian Government is keen to deepen its economic cooperation with the United States. Following a credible and peaceful election in October 2015, in which President Ouattara was overwhelmingly reelected to a second term, a new constitution was adopted in November 2016 through a referendum that created a new executive position of Vice-President and a Senate. The country is consolidating its political stability and is focused intently on economic growth in order to become an “emerging” economy by 2020. The country continues its efforts to reestablish itself as an economic engine for West Africa by making its economy attractive to both domestic and foreign investors through sound macroeconomic and fiscal management, improvement in the ease of doing business, and plans to tackle corruption. Côte d’Ivoire’s economy has grown strongly since 2012, averaging nine percent per year. In 2017 the economy has faced headwinds with soldier mutinies, a drop in the price of cocoa, and public sector strikes. However, the IMF in its April 2017 mission predicted continued strong growth in the range of seven to eight percent. Additionally, in April 2017 the World Bank named Côte d’Ivoire one of the most resilient economies in Africa.

The main drivers of Côte d’Ivoire’s impressive sustained growth are the economy’s strengths in the agricultural, energy, and mining sectors. Public and private investments in infrastructure have contributed to the extension of Abidjan’s port and expansion of the transportation network. Improvements in the business environment include a one stop shop for registering businesses, the implementation of a single user identification number for business creation and tax payment, online submission of complaints to the Commercial Court of Abidjan, publication of rulings from the Commercial Court, and electronic land registration. The government’s impressive track record also includes the implementation of new codes on investment, electricity, and mining. The new mining code was a key factor for the country to accede to both the Kimberley Process and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).

The most fruitful areas of investment for U.S. businesses are in oil and gas exploration and production; agriculture and value-added agribusiness processing; power generation; renewable energy; infrastructure; and mining.

Despite the country’s impressive economic track record over the past few years, investor challenges remain. Improvements in the national security situation over the past four years are evident, but the reform process is incomplete. Progress on national reconciliation and impartial justice has also gone slowly. Côte d’Ivoire suffered its first terrorist attack in March 2016 on the beaches of Grand Bassam, for which Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility. The Ivoirian forces responded very quickly, however, showing that their capacity has improved over the past few years. Soldier mutinies in January, February, and May 2017 renewed worries about stability, but the government managed to placate the soldiers by acceding to part of their demands and promised to refocus efforts to reform the military.

In business, investors continue to complain about the lack of transparency in government decision-making. In January 2017 however, the government made important changes to the composition and makeup of the cabinet in order to improve performance and governance. Efforts are underway to reform the commercial court system, which often is slow to make rulings. The Budget Ministry is in the process of establishing an online tax payment system to expand the tax base, decrease opportunities for corruption, and improve fiscal transparency.

Table 1

Measure

Year

Index/Rank

Website Address

TI Corruption Perceptions Index

2016

108 of 176

http://www.transparency.org/research/cpi/overview

World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business”

2017

142 of 190

doingbusiness.org/rankings

Global Innovation Index

2016

108 of 128

globalinnovationindex.org/content/page/data-analysis

U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)

2015

 

$ 112 million

http://www.bea.gov/international/factsheet/

World Bank GNI per capita

2015

$ 1,420

http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

 

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign InvestmentShare    

Policies Toward Foreign Direct Investment

The government actively encourages Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and is committed to doubling foreign investment over the next several years. Foreign companies are free to invest and list on the regional stock exchange (BRVM), which is based in Abidjan and dominated by Ivoirian 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.

In most sectors, there are no laws that limit foreign investment. There are, however, restrictions on foreign investment in the health sector, law and accounting firms, and travel agencies, particularly in terms of required local licenses. Although there are regulations designed to control land speculation, foreigners own significant amounts of land in urban areas. Free-hold tenure outside of urban areas is difficult to negotiate and inhibits investment. Land tenure disputes exist all over the country, owing to the difficulty of formalizing land ownership. Most businesses, including agribusinesses and forestry companies, circumvent this by acquiring long-term leases. Companies that wish to purchase land must have the property surveyed before obtaining a title. Surveying, which is a tightly controlled monopoly, can cost more than the value of the parcel of land.

CEPICI, Côte d’Ivoire’s investment promotion agency, facilitates foreign investment, and its services are available to all investors. CEPICI provides its services through a one-stop shop to facilitate business creation, operation, and expansion; requests incentives in the investment code and for access to industrial land; promotes and attracts national and foreign investments; has an action plan to improve the business climate; and serves as an exchange platform for the public and private sectors. More information is available at CEPICI’s website: http://www.cepici.gouv.ci/.

Côte d’Ivoire maintains an ongoing dialogue with investors through various business networks and platforms, such as the investment promotion agency CEPICI, the Ivoirian chamber of commerce (CCI-CI), the business leaders’ association of large enterprises (CGECI), and the bankers’ association (APBF-CI).

Limits on Foreign Control and 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, including in the privatization of state-owned and public firms, although in most cases the state reserves an equity stake in the new company.

There are no significant limits on foreign investment, nor are there differences in the treatment of foreign and national investors, either in terms of the level of foreign ownership or sector of investment. 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.

Banks and insurance companies are subject to licensing requirements, but there are no restrictions designed to limit foreign ownership or to establish subsidiaries of foreign companies in this sector. There are restrictions on foreign investment in the health sector, law and accounting firms, and travel agencies, especially as it pertains to local licensing requirements. Investments in these sectors are subject to prior approval and require appropriate licenses and association with an Ivoirian partner; however, foreign companies operate successfully in all of these service sectors.

The government does not screen investments and has no overall economic and industrial strategy that discriminates against foreign-owned firms

Other Investment Policy Reviews

Côte d’Ivoire has not conducted an investment policy review (IPR) through the OECD.

A Trade Policy Review was last done by the WTO in July 2012 and can be found at https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp366_e.htm.

UNCTAD does not provide an IPR report for Côte d’Ivoire; however, there are statistics on FDI at http://unctadstat.unctad.org/wds/TableViewer/tableView.aspx

and a country profile at http://unctadstat.unctad.org/CountryProfile/384/en384GeneralProfile.html.

The Government of Côte d’Ivoire provides information about sector policies and business opportunities in various reports. More information can be found at: www.cepici.gouv.ci/en/ or at: www.gcpnd.gouv.ci/.

Business Facilitation

The government has engaged in significant business facilitation efforts through a series of reforms using the World Bank Doing Business index as a reference to improve the business environment. These include the acceleration of business creation to 24 hours, the issuing of a construction permit in 26 days, the establishment of a one- stop shop for external trade, the establishment of a single tax declaration form, the protection of minority shareholders, and insolvency resolution.

Cote d’Ivoire’s online information portal dedicated to business creation and registration (https://cotedivoire.eregulations.org/) is managed by CEPICI. All the necessary documentation for registration is available online. The one stop shop for business registration takes a maximum of 24 hours, and has all the agencies under a single roof, allowing for a more simplified approach to business creation. Online registration documents can be found at:

http://www.cepici.gouv.ci/?tmp=doc&cat=1 (registration forms)

http://www.cepici.gouv.ci/?tmp=doc&cat=4 (codes, decrees and annexes)

The law in Côte d’Ivoire subdivides and defines micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises as follows:

A micro enterprise is an enterprise that continuously employs fewer than 10 people or which has an annual turnover of less than or equal to $50,000 excluding tax.

A small business is defined as an enterprise that continuously employs between 10 and 50 employees, or has an annual turnover (excluding tax) exceeding $50,000.

A medium-sized enterprise is defined as an enterprise that continuously employs between 51 and 200 employees, or has an annual turnover exceeding $250,000 but less than $1.7 million, excluding tax.

Outward Investment

Côte d’Ivoire does not promote or incentivize outward investment. The government does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.

2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation TreatiesShare    

There is no bilateral investment treaty between Côte d'Ivoire and the United States currently in force. Côte d’Ivoire has signed Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) with the following countries: Belgium, Luxembourg, Canada, China, the EU, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, and the United Kingdom. The Ivoirian government ratified the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU in September 2016, allowing it to access the European market with no tax.

Côte d’Ivoire does not have a bilateral taxation treaty with the United States. However, Côte d’Ivoire has concluded tax treaties with Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, and Switzerland. For FY 2017 fiscal measures, the government exonerated from research fees all documents provided by the Tax and Treasury Office. For leasing, the depreciation period of the item is now aligned with the period of the contract and not the lifespan of the item for accounting purposes. A special tax incentive for equipment has been adopted to help business development.

Businesses and foreign investors have expressed some concerns about the level of taxation, but there are currently no U.S. firms involved in ongoing systemic tax disputes.

3. Legal RegimeShare    

Transparency of the Regulatory System

The government has taken steps to encourage a more transparent and competitive economic environment, and the IMF, World Bank, EU, and other large donors continue to urge the government to make further reforms. The government aims for transparency in law and policy to foster competition and provide clear rules of the game and a level playing field for domestic and foreign investors.

Côte d’Ivoire’s legal, regulatory, and accounting systems are generally transparent and consistent with international norms. There are no informal regulatory processes managed by non-governmental organizations or private sector associations.

Rulemaking and regulatory authority exists in the telecom, electricity, cocoa, cotton, and cashew sectors. In these sectors the government has established a body which regulates the sector and establishes prices.

Côte d’Ivoire’s accounting, legal, and regulatory procedures are consistent with international norms, though businesses often complain about the system’s lack of clarity and the government’s poor communication. Côte d’Ivoire is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of African Business Law (OHADA), which is common to 16 countries and adheres to the West African Economic and Monetary Union's accounting system. Introduced in 1998, the SYSCOA system allows enterprises to use a common accounting system. SYSCOA complies with international norms in force and is a source of economic and financial data.

Draft bills and regulations are not published and made available for public comment. However, the National Assembly debates most legislation, and the government often holds public seminars and workshops to discuss proposed plans with trade and industry associations.

Key regulatory actions are published in the Journal Officiel de la Republique de Côte d’Ivoire. But, each regulatory body provides regulatory actions (laws, decisions, and sanctions) on its website.

Consumers and trade associations, private companies, and individuals have the right to file complaints to ensure that the government follows administrative processes.

There is no centralized online location where regulatory actions or their summaries are published similar to the United States Federal Register. Post does not have knowledge of any recent regulatory system, including enforcement reforms, that has been announced since the last ICS report. Regulatory reforms announced in prior years have been fully implemented.

For any industry or sector, regulations are developed through the relevant ministry. The regulatory enforcement mechanisms are made accountable to the public through the private and public institutions tasked with controlling and regulating these sectors.

Regulation is reviewed on data-driven assessments since regulatory bodies regularly publish and promote access of the business community and development partners to their data. Quantitative analysis and public comments are made available.

International Regulatory Considerations

On August 6, 2009, the government adopted a community framework for public procurement by incorporating West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) directives 4 and 5 into bidding processes and auditing, as well as into the regulation of public procurement within the union. This new public procurement code aimed to harmonize public procurement policy and comply with WAEMU integration objectives. Changes include the separation of auditing and regulating functions, the transformation from a national to a regional system of procurement for intellectual services, and an increase from 25 to 30 percent of advance payment for the startup of procurement of goods and services. The National Regulatory Authority for Public Procurement regulates public procurement with a view to improve governance and transparency. It may sanction entities which do not comply with public procurement regulations.

Côte d’Ivoire’s laws, codes, professional association standards, and regional directives are incorporated in the country’s regulatory system. Côte d’Ivoire has been a WTO member since 1995 but has not notified all draft technical regulations to the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

Côte d’Ivoire’s legal system is based on a French civil law model. The law guarantees the right to own and transfer private property. The court system enforces contracts.

Côte d’Ivoire is signatory to the Organization for the Harmonization of Corporate Law in Africa (OHADA) that provides common corporate law and arbitration procedures for the 16 member states.

In 2012, the Council of Ministers established the Commercial Court specifically to handle business cases. In 2013, the government endorsed a draft law to consolidate the autonomy and extend the attributions of the Commercial Court to create the Commercial Chamber of the Court of Appeals. In 2014, the government endorsed a draft law on judiciary and conventional mediation, which established mediation throughout the Ivoirian legal framework in addition to the Commercial Court and the Arbitration Tribunal. The IMF has encouraged the government to extend the Commercial Court to the rest of the country, but this expansion has not yet occured.

Côte d’Ivoire’s judicial system is ostensibly independent, but magistrates are sometimes subject to political or financial influence. Judges sometimes fail to base their decisions on the legal or contractual merits of the case and sometimes are seen to rule against foreign investors in favor of entrenched interests. The most common complaint from investors is the slow process. Cases are often postponed and appealed without a reasonable explanation, moving from court to court for years or even decades. The government, with international assistance, is making an effort to reform the judiciary system to make it more efficient and transparent.

Regulations or enforcement actions are appealable and adjudicated in the national court system.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

The major law affecting foreign investment is the 2012 Investment Code. This code offers incentives, including tax reductions and in some cases exemptions from value added taxes (VAT), on equipment for private investors. This code also includes planned industrial zones, which offer benefits to investors such as special tax treatment for periods ranging from 8 to 15 years, depending on the location of the investment. There are also incentives to promote sectors (low-cost housing construction, factories, and infrastructure development) that are critical to the country’s economic development.

The 2014 Mining Code allows a period for holding permits of ten years, with a possibility of extension for two more years; the reduction of the permit area from 1,000 to 400 square kilometers; and a new tax and fee structure. Politicians and government employees with strategic knowledge of the mining sector are prohibited from holding shares in the mining industry for five years after leaving office.

CEPICI provides a one stop website for investment. More information on Côte d’Ivoire’s laws, rules, procedures, and reporting requirements can be found at:

https://guce.gouv.ci/cepici;

www.apex-ci.org/;

www.cepici.gouv.ci/

The site provides information on investment opportunities with a focus on the business environment and reforms to facilitate business creation and registration.

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

The Ministry of Commerce, Handicraft and Small Business Promotion through the Commission on Anti-Competition Practices is responsible for reviewing competition–related concerns under the 1991 competition law, which was updated in 2013. The National Authority for the Regulation of Public Tenders is responsible for reviewing the awards of contracts.

No significant competition cases were reported over the past year.

Expropriation and Compensation

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

There is no history of public expropriations. Private expropriation to force settlement of contractual or investment disputes, however, continues to be a problem. 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.

In cases of illegal expropriations, Côte d’Ivoire law affords claimants due process. However, perceived corruption and lack of capacity in the judicial and security services have resulted in poor enforcement of private property rights, particularly when the entity in question is foreign and the plaintiff is either Ivoirian or a long-established foreign resident.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Côte d'Ivoire is a signatory to the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and a signatory to the 1958 New York Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral awards.

In cases where the firm of a national does not meet nationality conditions stipulated by Article 25 of the Convention, the code stipulates that the dispute be resolved within the provisions of the supplementary mechanisms approved by the ICSID.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

Côte d’Ivoire is a signatory to investment agreements subject to binding international arbitration of investment disputes. Côte d’Ivoire recognizes and has been known to enforce foreign arbitral awards, but enforcement is inconsistent.

In the past 10 years, foreign investors have had investment disputes, which are often resolved through arbitration or an amicable settlement. For example, one U.S. firm was involved in tax and customs disputes over its investment in the cocoa sector. As a result, the U.S. firm chose to divest its holdings. Another ongoing U.S. dispute involves the alleged nonfulfillment of a government sanitation contract. Another U.S. company is in a dispute with its local partner on fulfilling the terms of its joint-development contract.

Côte d’Ivoire has signed the New York Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, which means that local courts must enforce foreign arbitral awards.

The Embassy is not aware of any history of extrajudicial action against foreign investors, including U.S. firms.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

The Abidjan-based regional Joint Court of Justice and Arbitration (CCJA) provides a means of solving contractual disputes. The arbitration tribunal has the ability to enforce awards more quickly, but the use of the tribunal in lieu of the court system has been limited.

Cote d’Ivoire is a member of OHADA, whose provisions of 1999 have replaced domestic law on arbitration. The unified law is based on the UNCITRAL model law.

Judgments of foreign courts are recognized, but are difficult to enforce in local courts. To avoid working through the Ivoirian legal system, 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 or through the African regional arbitration body are sometimes not honored by local courts.

Côte d’Ivoire’s domestic courts have no preferential treatment for state-owned enterprises (SOE’s) involved in investment disputes.

Bankruptcy Regulations

As a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of African Business Law (OHADA), Côte d'Ivoire has both commercial and bankruptcy laws that address the liquidation of business liabilities. OHADA is a regional system of uniform laws on bankruptcy, debt collection, and rules governing business transactions. 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. Bankruptcy is not criminalized. Monetary judgments resulting from a bankruptcy are usually paid out in local currency. Côte d’Ivoire is ranked 68 out of 190 countries for ease of resolving insolvency, according to the World Bank Doing Business Report.

4. Industrial PoliciesShare    

Investment Incentives

Côte d’Ivoire’s 2012 Investment Code offers incentives including tax reductions and in some cases exemption from VAT on equipment for private investors. Under this code, new industrial zones are planned, and investors will benefit from special tax treatment for periods ranging from 8 to 15 years, depending on the location of the investment. The code provides incentives to promote sectors that are key to the country’s economic development, such as low-cost housing construction, the creation of factories, and infrastructure development. The Investment Code, the Petroleum Code, and the Mining Code delineate incentives available to new investors in Côte d'Ivoire.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

Created in 2008, the free trade zone for information technology and biotechnology (VITIB) is located in the city of Grand Bassam. In 2014, VITIB inaugurated the Mahatma Gandhi technology park at Grand Bassam with a loan of $20 million from India’s EXIM bank. Current plans are to develop a technology corridor on VITIB land in Grand Bassam. 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.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

The Government generally encourages investors and firms to hire Ivoirian employees, but this is not a requirement. The 2012 Investment Code (Article 14) guarantees the freedom to designate senior management and board members.

Citizens of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries can legally work in Côte d’Ivoire. For other nationalities, visa/work and residence permits are required and CEPICI facilitates their acquisition. The process is not onerous and does not inhibit the mobility of foreign investors and their employees.

There are no government-imposed conditions on permission to invest, including tariff and non-tariff barriers. The government does not follow “forced localization” of domestic content in goods or technology.

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, or technology.

Cellular telephone companies must meet technology and performance requirements to maintain their licenses.

Côte d’Ivoire does not have any known requirements for foreign IT to turn over source code or provide access to encryption.

Data transmission or transfer is subject to prior authorization of the telecom regulatory board ART-CI. Cote d’Ivoire adopted in June 2013 the law on data protection which requests prior declaration or authorization by ART-CI for any data processing. ART-CI is responsible for the oversight of local data storage.

5. Protection of Property RightsShare    

Real Property

Ivoirian civil code provides for enforcement of private property rights and the government has undertaken reform efforts to secure property rights. Secured interests in property are enforced by the Land Registry Office of the Ministry of Finance. In the World Bank’s Doing Business report, Côte d’Ivoire is ranked 113 out of 190 countries for registering property.

Foreign and/or nonresident investors who wish to lease land must obtain a permit for the development of the site, as well as a bylaw from the prefecture or sub-prefecture for the occupation of the site.

In Côte d’Ivoire only four percent of land has a clear title, however the government has committed to securing the remaining portion within 10 years. The government has made efforts to raise awareness on land titling throughout the country and to streamline procedures for obtaining land titles. Still, all land that is to be titled must be professionally surveyed. The surveying, which must be performed by one of the few companies allowed to execute surveys in Côte d’Ivoire, can cost more than the value of the land.

In Cote d’Ivoire, the status of the land from which thousands of refugees were forced to move during the 2011 post-election conflict has not been resolved. Much of that land is now occupied by squatters, many of whom are immigrants or descendants of immigrants from neighboring countries to the north of Côte d’Ivoire, especially Burkina Faso. A lack of titles and a overlap of modern land-tenure law and customary practices hinders resolution of the land tenure issue.

Intellectual Property Rights

The Ivoirian Civil Code protects Intellectual Property (IP) rights; the government's Office of Industrial Property (OIPI) is charged with ensuring the protection of patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and commercial names. Patents are valid for ten years, with the possibility of two five-year extensions. Trademarks are valid for ten years and are renewable indefinitely, while copyrights are valid for 50 years. The Ivoirian Copyright Office has a labeling system in place to prevent counterfeiting and protect audio, video, literary, and artistic property rights in music and computer programs. However, protection of intellectual property rights in Côte d’Ivoire is weak and the government has limited resources for IPR protection. While Ivoirian IP law is in conformity with standards established by the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), enforcement is weak due to a lack of custom checks at the country’s porous borders.

No IP related laws or regulations have been enacted in the past year.

Parliament approved a law in 2013 to protect intellectual property on exported and imported goods. Customs has the power to seize products imported and equipment installed, detained, marketed, or illegally supplied. Such seizures, generally of counterfeit consumer goods, are routinely publicized on government websites and media outlets, although statistics on seizures are unavailable. BURIDA’s police unit has sometimes held raids against retail outlets and street vendors to confiscate pirated CDs and DVDs and also instituted legal proceedings against counterfeiters. IPR violations are prosecuted and sanctions vary from three months to two years of imprisonment and from $163 to $8,000 fines.

Côte d’Ivoire is not listed in USTR’s Special 301 report.

Côte d’Ivoire is not listed in the notorious market report.

6. Financial SectorShare    

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

Government policies generally encourage the free flow of capital and financial resources.

The Regional Stock Exchange (BRVM) in Abidjan trades equity securities. An effective regulatory system exists to facilitate portfolio investment through the West African Central Bank (BCEAO) and the Regional Council for Savings Investments (CREPMF). There is sufficient liquidity in the markets to enter and exit sizeable positions.

Côte d’Ivoire’s financial market allows the free flow of financial resources into the product and factor markets.

The central bank BCEAO respects IMF Article VIII on payment and transfers for current international transactions.

Credit allocation has increased to support the private sector and economic growth, specifically for large businesses. Banks have restarted lending to small businesses, offering short-term and long-term loans and overdraft facilities. Foreign investors can acquire credit on the local market.

Money and Banking System

Banks are expanding their networks, especially in the secondary cities outside Abidjan as domestic investment has increased upcountry. The total number of bank branches has increased from 281 in 2008 to 631 branches in 2016.

Côte d’Ivoire's commercial banking sector is undergoing privatization, as the government is seeking to reinvigorate the sector. Publicly owned banks pose potential systemic risks to the financial system, as loan quality, solvency, and profitability have deteriorated in recent years due to mismanagement and lack of oversight. The government has at times had to step in to rescue poorly-managed banks.

The central bank BCEAO is common to the eight member states of the West Africa Economic and Monetary Union (WEAMU).

Foreign banks are allowed to establish operations in Côte d’Ivoire. They are subject to prudential measures and regulations of the Banking Commission of the WAEMU.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange

There are no restrictions on the transfer or repatriation of capital and income earned, or on investments financed with convertible foreign currency. 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).

Funds associated with investments funded with convertible currency are freely convertible into any world currency.

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

Remittance Policies

There are no restrictions on the transfer of capital, dividends, and income, or on investments funded with convertible foreign currency. There are no time limitations on remittances. Remittances for Ivoirians were about $300 million in 2015 or 1.1 percent of GDP.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

Côte d’Ivoire does not have a sovereign wealth fund.

7. State-Owned EnterprisesShare    

Companies owned or controlled by the state are subject to the laws and tax code. The Ivoirian government still holds substantial interests in many firms, including the refinery SIR (49 percent), the public transport firm (60 percent), the national television - RTI (98 percent), the national lottery (80 percent), and the land management agency - AGEF (35 percent).

Of the SOEs, 28 are wholly government owned, 15 are majority owned, eight are with a blocking minority, and 30 are minority owned. Each SOE has an independent board. The government has begun the process of divestiture for some state-owned enterprises, and had targeted 15 for sale during 2015, but the program has not been completed. The Ivoirian government is still an active participant in some economic sectors, such as banking, agri-business, mining, and the telecom industry.

The list of SOEs can be found here: www.budget.gouv.ci/.../Liste%20du%20portefeuille%20de%20l%2.

There are no laws or rules that offer preferential treatment to SOEs. They are subject to tax burdens and policies as private companies.

The Corporate Governance of SOEs in Côte d’Ivoire does not meet the standards of the OECD, but the government has made some efforts to improve it. For example, private and public enterprises compete under the same terms and conditions, and there is no state monopoly in any of these sectors. Senior management of SOEs may report to a ministry or board of directors, whose seats are allocated to senior government officials, political leaders, representatives of civil society, and other public entities. SOEs are required by law to publish annual reports, hold regular meetings of the board of directors, and have financial statements reviewed by certified accountants and private auditors. The courts independently process disputes between SOEs and private firms or organizations.

Privatization Program

In 2014, the Government proposed a program to privatize a quarter of public enterprises including approximately 15 public or semi-public enterprises, banks, the sugar company Sucrivoire (SIFCA), and $232 million of investments the government holds in Industrial Promotion Services (IPS)-Aga Khan Foundation projects. At the urging of the IMF, the government is continuing the privatization of banks including Versus Bank, NSIA Bank, and the housing finance bank BHCI.

No website on privatizations is available.

8. Responsible Business ConductShare    

The private sector, the government, NGOs, and local communities are becoming progressively aware of the importance of Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) regarding environmental, social, and governance issues in Côte d’Ivoire.

Investment projects in energy, infrastructure, agriculture, forestry, waste management, and extractive industries are required by decree to provide an environmental impact study prior to approval. Some companies have complained that the environmental impact study can be very costly. Foreign businesses, particularly in mining, petroleum, and the cocoa industries, often provide social infrastructure, including schools and health care clinics, to communities close to their sites of operation, sometimes at the request of the government.

Cocoa companies have actively supported programs to improve sustainability in the sector and are working to combat the worst forms of child labor. This activity has increased since 2011 with the government’s focus on eliminating child labor and supporting cocoa producers and their families.

While international firms are aware of OECD guidelines and international best practices in RBC, most local firms have limited familiarity with international standards.

There have not been high profile instances of private sector impact on human rights, or resolution of such cases, in the past year.

There are government-funded agencies in charge of monitoring business conduct. Human rights, environmental protection, and consumer NGOs report misconduct and violations of good governance practices.

As part of public procurement reform, the Ministry of Budget plans to include social needs in public procurement contracts to support job creation, fair trade, decent working conditions, social inclusion, and compliance with social standards. On the environment, the main reforms include the selection of goods and services, such as ecofriendly computers, low-energy use buildings, and recycled paper that have a smaller impact on the environment.

Companies are not required under Ivoirian law to disclose information relating to RBC, although many companies, especially in the cocoa sector, publicize their work on websites.

Côte d’Ivoire is EITI compliant and discloses revenues and payments in the oil, gas, and mineral sector. More information can be found at: www.cnitie.ci/.

9. CorruptionShare    

In 2013, the government founded the High Authority of Good Governance, with the requirement that all public officials submit asset declarations at the beginning and end of their tenures in office. By mid-2016, all government and government-funded institutions’ employees had submitted asset declarations. It is not yet clear how those declarations will be reviewed or monitored or if penalties for non-compliance will be imposed.

The country’s Code of Public Procurement No. 259 of August 2009 and the associated WAEMU directives counter conflict of interest in awarding contracts or government procurement.

Under the Ivoirian Penal Code, a bribe by a local company to a foreign official is a criminal act.

Some private companies use compliance programs or measures to prevent and detect bribery of government officials. U.S. firms underscore to their Ivoirian counterparts that they are subject to the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act (FCPA).

The country’s financial intelligence CENTIF was established in December 2007 and is responsible for investigating money laundering and terrorist financing. CENTIF has broad authority to investigate suspicious financial transactions, including those of government officials.

Côte d'Ivoire ratified the UN Anti-Corruption Convention in November 2011; however, the country is not a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery. In 2016, Côte d’Ivoire joined the Partnership on Illicit Finance, which obliges the country to develop an action plan to combat corruption.

There are no special protections to NGOs involved in investigating corruption.

Corruption in many forms is deeply engrained in public and private sector practices and remains a serious impediment to investment and economic growth in Côte d’Ivoire. Many companies cite corruption as the major obstacle to investment in Côte d’Ivoire. It has the greatest impact on judicial proceedings, contract awards, customs, and tax issues. Lack of transparency in the awarding of contracts often leads businesses to conclude bribery was involved. Businesses have reported encountering corruption at every level of the civil service, with some judges appearing to base their decisions on bribes. Clearance of goods at the ports often require substantial “commissions,” and the Embassy has heard anecdotal accounts of customs agents rescinding valuations that were declared by other customs colleagues in an effort to extract bribes from customers. Although procedures are in place, the demand for bribes can mean that containers stay at the Port of Abidjan for months, incurring substantial demurrage charges.

Resources to Report Corruption

Inspector General of Finance

(Brigade de Lutte Contre la Corruption)

Lassina Sylla
Inspector General
+225 2252 9797
+225 2252 9798
+225 8000 0380
http://www.igf.finances.gouv.ci/blc/

High Authority for Good Governance

(Haute Autorité pour la Bonne Gouvernance)

Seydou Diarra
President
+225 22479 5000
+225 2247 8261

Police anti-Racketeering Unit

(Unite de Lutte Contre le Racket --ULCR)

Alain Oura
Unit Commander
+225 2244 9256
info@ulcr.ci

10. Political and Security EnvironmentShare    

President Alassane Ouattara was elected to a second term in 2015. The constitution allows only two presidential mandates which would require him to step down after his current term ends in 2020. In November 2016, a new constitution was adopted through a referendum creating the position of Vice-President and a Senate.

Côte d’Ivoire‘s security situation has significantly improved since the 2010-2011 post electoral dispute that led to civil conflict. Côte d’Ivoire suffered its first terrorist attack in March 2016 on the beaches of Grand Bassam, for which Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb claimed responsibility. The Ivoirian forces responded very quickly, showing that its capacity has improved over the past few years. There continue to be small-scale security incidents in the country-side, primarily along Côte d’Ivoire’s western borders. In January and again in May 2017, soldiers mutinied, demanding payment of bonuses. The government responded by partially acceding to their demands and pledging to improve living and working conditions for armed and security forces. Reform of the security sector is an ongoing process.

Demonstrations and protests by unions and political parties occur with regularity but rarely lead to violence.

11. Labor Policies and PracticesShare    

The official unemployment rate is 11 percent with higher unemployment in urban areas. The unemployment rate among those aged 14-35 is 8.6 percent. The percentage of the non-agricultural workforce in the informal economy is 47 percent. All of these numbers, however, fail to fully account for the large informal economy throughout the country and do not accurately portray the general lack of sufficient employment opportunities. The government implemented a national strategy for employment, which includes youth capacity building for employment and training programs. Despite the government’s efforts, child labor remained a widespread problem, particularly on cocoa and coffee plantations and in artisanal gold mining.

Labor laws favor the employment of Ivoirians in private enterprises, and states that any position to be filled must be advertised for two months. If after two months no qualified Ivoirian is found, the employer is allowed to recruit a foreigner, provided that s/he plans to recruit an Ivoirian to fill the position in the next two years. The foreign employee must be given a labor contract.

There are no restrictions on employers adjusting employment to fluctuating market conditions. Employees terminated for reasons other than theft or flagrant neglect of duty have the right to termination benefits. Unemployment insurance and other social safety programs exist for employees laid off for economic reasons, but for the 85 percent of workers employed in the informal sector, this is not an option.

Labor laws are not waived to attract or retain investment.

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 Social Affairs establishes salaries by job categories.

Labor disputes are submitted to the labor inspector for amicable settlement before engaging in any legal proceedings. If this attempt to settle the dispute fails, then the labor court can be engaged to resolve the dispute.

There are no gaps in law or practice with international labor standards that may pose a reputational risk to investors.

The National Assembly passed a new labor code in July 2015 which replaced the 1995 labor code. This new code addresses non-standard employment (seasonal, insecure, and poorly paid work), and strengthens the freedom to unionize. It also promotes job access for the handicapped and the requirement to maintain minimum levels of service in case of strike.

12. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance ProgramsShare    

OPIC opened an office in Abidjan as part of its effort to expand operations in sub-Saharan Africa. There are currently no OPIC projects in Côte d’Ivoire, but OPIC continues to look for opportunities, particularly in energy and infrastructure. OPIC is currently updating its investment incentive agreement with Côte d’Ivoire.

Côte d'Ivoire is a member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). In 2013, MIGA agreed to guarantee the expansion and ongoing operations of the Azito power plant. Other MIGA guarantees in Côte d’Ivoire include the construction of the Henri Konan Bédié Bridge in Abidjan and guarantees for offshore development of platforms for oil and gas fields.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment StatisticsShare    

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy

 

Host Country Statistical source

USG or international statistical source

USG or International Source of Data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other

Economic Data

Year

Amount

Year

Amount

 

Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD)

2016

$33.90 billion

2016

$34.6 billion

IMF

Foreign Direct Investment

Host Country Statistical source

USG or international statistical source

USG or international Source of data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other

U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)

2016

N/A

2016

N/A

BEA data available at http://bea.gov/international/direct_investment_multinational_companies_comprehensive_data.htm

Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions)

2016

N/A

2016

N/A

BEA data available at http://bea.gov/international/direct_investment_multinational_companies_comprehensive_data.htm

Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP

2016

N/A

2016

$7.3 billion (21.1%)

 

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI in 2015

Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data

From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)

Inward Direct Investment

Outward Direct Investment

Total Inward

Amount

100%

Total Outward

Amount

100%

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Country #5

Amount

X%

Country #5

Amount

X%

"0" reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Portfolio Investment Assets

Top Five Partners (Millions, US Dollars)

Total

Equity Securities

Total Debt Securities

All Countries

Amount

100%

All Countries

Amount

100%

All Countries

Amount

100%

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

14. Contact for More InformationShare    

Jeremy Chen
Economic Officer
01 B.P. 1712 Abidjan 01, Côte d'Ivoire
Tel: +225 2249 4000
ChenJH2@state.gov