HomeReportsInvestment Climate Statements...Custom Report - 2ae7fee837 hide Investment Climate Statements Custom Report Excerpts: Angola, Chad, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Niger, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo +1 more Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs Sort by Country Sort by Section In this section / Angola 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment 3. Legal Regime 5. Protection of Property Rights 10. Political and Security Environment Chad 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment 3. Legal Regime 5. Protection of Property Rights 10. Political and Security Environment Democratic Republic of the Congo 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment 2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties 3. Legal Regime 5. Protection of Property Rights 10. Political and Security Environment Ethiopia 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment 2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties 3. Legal Regime 5. Protection of Property Rights 10. Political and Security Environment Kenya 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment 3. Legal Regime 5. Protection of Property Rights 10. Political and Security Environment Niger 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment 3. Legal Regime 5. Protection of Property Rights 10. Political and Security Environment Nigeria 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment 2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties 3. Legal Regime 5. Protection of Property Rights 10. Political and Security Environment Republic of the Congo 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment 3. Legal Regime 5. Protection of Property Rights 10. Political and Security Environment South Africa 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment 3. Legal Regime 5. Protection of Property Rights 10. Political and Security Environment Angola 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment Although the GRA demonstrated political will to significantly increase foreign direct investment (FDI), Angola remains a difficult operating environment for investment to thrive. FDI remains low, volatile, and largely concentrated in the extractives sector. The GRA continues to pursue an ambitious plan to reform the business and investment environment. The Private Investment Law (“PIL”) introduced in 2018 has proven to be slow to promote FDI and retain investment. At the end of May 2020, the Economic Committee of the Council of Ministers gathered to discuss some changes to the PIL, with a particular focus on attracting foreign investment through a mechanism to negotiate benefits and special conditions depending on the specific project. There have been, however, no legislative changes related to foreign direct investment since the enactment of the 2018 PIL and the Competition Law of 2018. President João Lourenço implemented economic reform policies that provide a level playing field for domestic and foreign investors and leveraged efforts to combat and deter corruption and money laundering. Foreign investors were also encouraged to participate in the ongoing Privatization Program designed to privatize over 195 State-Owned Enterprises (SOES) by 2022. AIPEX, the country’s Private Investment and Export Promotion Agency is billed as the investors ‘one stop shop’ for business establishment. AIPEX is tasked with facilitating investment and is also supposed to manage the state’s investment portfolio to ensure the equitable implementation of the PIL and distribution of private investment, especially foreign investment. Theoretically the country prioritizes investment retention, but it does not appear to have institutional capacity to pursue and advocate for investment retention. Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment The 2018 PIL establishes the general principles and basis of private investment in Angola, determining the benefits and concessions that the GRA grants private investors and the criteria for accessing them, as well as establishing rights, duties and guarantees of private investors. The PIL is applied to private investments of any value, whether it is carried out by domestic or foreign investors, although waivers may exist under a bilateral agreement framework. Companies incorporated in conformity with the Angolan law, even with capital from abroad are, for all legal purposes, subject to the existing Angolan legislation. After the completion of a private investment project, foreign investors have the right, after approval by the GRA and settlement of taxes, to transfer abroad: Values corresponding to dividends; Values corresponding to the proceeds of the liquidation of their enterprises; Values corresponding to due compensations; Values corresponding to royalties or other earnings of remuneration from indirect investments, associated with the transfer of technology. These processes are very bureaucratic and tedious. Foreign investors and companies with majority foreign ownership are only eligible for domestic credit after having fully implemented their respective investment projects. On October 20, 2020 Presidential Decree No. 271/20, revoking Order No. 127/03, of 25 November 2003, was published, approving the new Legal Framework on Local Content in the Oil Sector. The statute aims to promote economic diversification, the participation of local businesses in the oil sector, the increase of domestic production and reduction of imports of goods for the sector, as well as the creation of employment and increased training of Angolans in the oil industry workforce. The statute establishes new rules on ‘Angolanization’ and procurement of goods and services for the sector, which will have a significant impact on company activities. For example, priority will be given to procurement of nationally produced goods and services, especially the obligation to contract Angolan companies included in the database approved by the National Oil, Gas and Biofuels Agency (ANPG). In addition, all companies operating in any segment of the petroleum-sector value chain will be required to present an annual local content plan to the ANPG. Failure to comply with the rules established in the new statute will result in fines in local currency to the equivalent of between USD 50,000 and USD 300,000. Additional penalties may also be applied, such as barring companies from entering new contracts or operating altogether. Although the GRA eliminated the 35 percent local content requirement in foreign investment and encourages foreign companies to invest in the domestic economy, some FDI screening processes continue. Foreign ownership remains limited to 49 percent in the oil and gas sector, 50 percent in insurance, and 10 percent in the banking and telecommunications sectors, though there have been some exceptions recently in which the foreign investment goes beyond the limit. There are several objectives that the GRA seeks to accomplish through its FDI screening processes: 1) create jobs for Angolans or transfer expertise to Angolan companies as part of an “Angolanization” plan; 2) protect sensitive industries such as defense and finance; 3) prevent capital flight or other behavior that could threaten the stability of the Angolan economy; and 4) diversify the economy and increase competitiveness of local industries. Other Investment Policy Reviews Angola has been a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 1996. The WTO performed a policy review of Angola in September 2015. At the government’s request, the last Investment Policy Review (IPR) of Angola’s business and economic environments was completed on September 30, 2019 by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD of Angola’s The IPR was part of a broader EU funded technical assistance project aimed to assist Angola in attracting and benefitting from FDI beyond the extractives industry and to support the GRA’s objective of increasing economic diversification and sustainable development. The full report and policy recommendations are accessible at: https://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/diaepcb2019d4_en.pdf The review identified remaining policy gaps and bottlenecks, including the complex system for FDI entry and establishment, burdensome operational regulations, the persistence of restrictive business practices and a lack of institutional capacity and coordination. These affect the country’s ability to fully take advantage of its strategic location, abundant natural resources, and preferential access to external markets. The Review also devoted special attention to investment in agribusiness and its contribution to sustainable development. It calls for measures to foster responsible investment and promote inclusive modes of production in agriculture. The recommendations emphasize the need to strike a policy balance between food security and export development objectives, improve access to land and infrastructure, and promote entrepreneurship and skills development. Business Facilitation The World Bank Doing Business 2020 report ranked Angola 177 out of 190 countries and recorded an improvement in Angola’s monitoring and regulation of power outages, and in facilitating trade through the implementation of an automated customs data management system, ASYCUDA (Automated System for Customs Data) World, and by upgrading its port community system to allow for electronic information exchange between different parties involved in the import/export process. To commence a business, investors typically register with the General Tax Administration (AGT) Social Security Institute (INSS), National Press, and a local bank Launching a business typically requires 36 days, compared with a regional average of 27 days, with Angola ranked 146 out of the 190 economies evaluated. The Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the urgency of trade facilitation reform to improve competitiveness in non-oil business sectors. With this, export procedures in the country cost USD 240 and take 98 hours, compared to an average of USD 173 and 72 hours for sub-Saharan Africa. Many of the reforms necessary to improve conditions for Angolan businesses, such as automating customs procedures or creating a single window, are addressed by the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, which Angola ratified in April 2019. To facilitate opening, changing, or closing a company, the Guiche Único de Empresas one stop shop for investors (GUE) was folded into the Private Investment and Export Promotion Agency (AIPEX) in 2019. It combines the main public services for constitution of companies, GUE and AIPEX, allowing the investor to open and register companies and be able to access the tax benefits and other incentives resulting from the Private Investment Law. On October 19, 2020, to facilitate the establishment of businesses and as a COVID-19 imposed biosafety measure, the GRA simplified procedures by creating an online registration portal for companies (www.gue.gov.ao). The online portal will allow for faster registry of companies (taking only 30-60 minutes) and replace the publication of the company registry in the Gazette (Diário da República), a procedure that took more than five days. There is still the option to set up a company in person, which is estimated to also take as little as 30 minutes to an hour. The cost to establish a sole proprietorship is USD 16 dollars and USD 54 for partnerships, corporations, and other entities. Payments are also made electronically. In April 2020, to simplify bureaucracy and in anticipation of the economic slowdown eventually caused by COVID-19, the GRA proposed revoking the procedure for issuing business licenses for all economic activities and requiring companies to carry out statistical registration in the act of incorporation. With the abolition of the Company License Document (a commercial permit) and Statistical Registration, to begin business activities, companies need to register their activity with the local administration office. The office will issue an electronic operating license. Some exclusions from this regime are foreseen, such as those related to the trade in foodstuffs, live plant species, animals, birds and fisheries, medicines, car sales, lubricants and chemicals. For these sectors, a physical license is still required as they are considered high risk economic activities which may affect human, animal, environmental and state safety. The state-run private investment and export promotion agency’s website is http://www.aipex.gov.ao/PortalAIPEX/#!/ . Contact Information: Departamento de Promoção e Captação do Investimento; Agencia de Investimento Privado e Promoção de Investimentos e Exportações de Angola (AIPEX). Rua Kwamme Nkrumah No.8, Maianga, Luanda, Angola Tel: (+244) 995 28 95 92| 222 33 12 52 Fax: (+244) 222 39 33 81. Outward Investment The Angolan Government does not promote or incentivize outward investment, nor does it restrict Angolans from investing abroad. Investors are free to invest in any foreign jurisdiction. According to data from the BNA, in 2018, the government did not invest abroad but received returns on previous investments abroad. Domestic investors prefer to invest in Portuguese-speaking countries, with few investing in neighboring countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The bulk of investment is in real estate, fashion, fashion accessories, and domestic goods. Due to foreign exchange constraints, there has been very little or no investment abroad by domestic investors. Although investing in real estate is cheaper abroad, a few invest in real estate domestically. The average Angolan invests in affordable investments with quick returns. 3. Legal Regime Transparency of the Regulatory System Angola’s regulatory system is complex, vague, and inconsistently enforced. In many sectors, no effective regulatory system exists due to a lack of institutional and human capacity. The banking system is slowly beginning to adhere to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). SOEs are still far from practicing IFRS. The public does not participate in draft bills or regulations formulation, nor does a public online location exist where the public can access this information for comment or hold government representatives accountable for their actions. The Angolan Communications Institute (INACOM) sets prices for telecommunications services and is the regulatory authority for the telecommunications sector. Revised energy-sector licensing regulations have permitted some purchase power agreements (PPA) participation. Overall, Angola’s national regulatory system does not conform to other international regulatory systems. However, Angola is part of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), and the SADC, among other organizations. Angola has yet to join the SADC Free Trade Zone of Africa as a full member. On March 21, 2018 together with 44 African countries, Angola joined the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), an agreement aimed at paving the way for a liberalized market for goods and services across Africa. Angola is also a member of the Port Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa (PMAESA), which seeks to maintain relations with other national port authorities or associations, regional and international organizations and governments of the region to hold discussions on matters of common interest. Angola became a member of the WTO on November 23, 1996. However, it is not party to the Plurilateral Agreements on Government Procurement, the Trade in Civil Aircraft Agreement and has not yet notified the WTO of its state-trading enterprises within the meaning of Article XVII of the GATT. A government procurement management framework introduced in late 2010 stipulates a preference for goods produced in Angola and/or services provided by Angolan or Angola-based suppliers. Technical Barriers to Trade regimes are not coordinated. There have been no investment policy reviews for Angola from either the OECD or UNCTAD in the last four years. Angola conducts several bilateral negotiations with Portuguese Speaking countries (PALOPS), Cuba and Russia and extends trade preferences to China due to credit facilitation terms, while attempting to encourage and protect local content. Regulatory reviews are based on scientific, or data driven assessments or baseline surveys. Evaluations are based on data, but not made available for public comment. The National Assembly is Angola’s main legislative body with the power to approve laws on all matters (except those reserved by the constitution to the government) by simple majority (except if otherwise provided in the constitution). Each legislature comprises four legislative sessions of twelve months starting annually on October 15. National Assembly members, parliamentary groups, and the government hold the power to put forward all draft-legislation. However, no single entity can present draft laws that involve an increase in the expenditure or decrease in the State revenue established in the annual budget. The president promulgates laws approved by the assembly and signs government decrees for enforcement. The state reserves the right to have the final say in all regulatory matters and relies on sectorial regulatory bodies for supervision of institutional regulatory matters concerning investment. The Economic Commission of the Council of Ministers oversees investment regulations that affect the country’s economy including the ministries in charge. Other major regulatory bodies responsible for getting deals through include: The National Gas and Biofuels Agency (ANPG) is the government regulatory and oversight body responsible for regulating oil exploration and production activities. On February 6, 2019, the parastatal oil company Sonangol launched the National Gas and Biofuels Agency (ANPG) through the Presidential decree 49/19. The ANPG is the national concessionaire of hydrocarbons in Angola, authorized to conduct, execute and ensure oil, gas and biofuel operations run smoothly, a role previously held by Sonangol. The ANPG must also ensure adherence to international standards and establish relationships with other international agencies and sector relevant organizations. The Regulatory Institute of Electricity and Water Services (IRSEA) is the regulatory authority for renewable energies and enforcing powers of the electricity regulatory authority. The Angolan Communications Institute (INACOM): The institute sets prices for telecommunications services and is the regulatory authority for the telecommunications sector. Revised energy-sector licensing regulations have improved legal protection for investors to attract more private investment in electrical infrastructure, such as dams and hydro distribution stations. As of October 1, 2019, a 14 percent VAT regime came into force, replacing the existing 10 percent Consumption Tax. The General Tax Administration (AGT) is the office that oversees tax operations and ensures taxpayer compliance. The new VAT tax regime aims to boost domestic production and consumption and reduce the incidence of compound tax created for businesses unable to recover consumption tax incurred. VAT may be reclaimed on purchases and imports made by taxpayers, making it neutral for business. Angola acceded to the New York Convention on August 24, 2016, paving the way for effective recognition and enforcement in Angola of awards rendered outside of Angola and subject to reciprocity. Angola participates in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), which includes a peer review mechanism on good governance and transparency. Enforcement and protection of investors is under development in terms of regulatory, supervisory, and sanctioning powers. Investor protection mechanisms are weak or almost non-existent. There are no informal regulatory processes managed by nongovernmental organizations or private sector associations, and the government does not allow the public to engage in the formulation of legislation or to comment on draft bills. Procurement laws and regulations are unclear, little publicized, and not consistently enforced. Oversight mechanisms are weak, and no audits are required or performed to ensure internal controls are in place or administrative procedures are followed. Inefficient bureaucracy and possible corruption frequently lead to payment delays for goods delivered, resulting in an increase in the price the government must pay. No regulatory reform enforcement mechanisms have been implemented since the last ICS report, in particular those relevant to foreign investors. The Diário da República (the Federal Register equivalent), is a legal document where key regulatory actions are officially published. International Regulatory Considerations On September 14, 2020 the GRA officially announced its intention to join the 54 countries that already apply the Standard Initiative for Extractive Industries Transparency (EITI). In a letter to the Chairman of the EITI Board, dated September 14, 2020, the Minister of Mineral, Oil and Gas Resources, Diamantino Pedro Azevedo, described the steps already taken for the implementation of the EITI. These include the signing of Presidential Decree 117/20, appointing the Minister as chair of the National EITI Coordinating Committee, and a public statement announcing the government’s commitment to join the EITI initiative. Angola’s overall national regulatory system does not conform to other international regulatory systems and is overseen by its constitution. Angola is not a full member of the International Standards Organization (ISO), but has been a corresponding member since 2002. The Angolan Institute for Standardization and Quality (IANORQ) within the Ministry of Industry & Commerce coordinates the country’s establishment and implementation of standards. Angola is an affiliate country of the International Electro-technical Commission that publishes consensus-based International Standards and manages conformity assessment systems for electric and electronic products, systems and services. A government procurement management framework introduced in late 2010 stipulates a preference for goods produced in Angola and/or services provided by Angolan or Angola-based suppliers. Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) regimes are not coordinated. Angola acceded to the Kyoto Convention on February 23, 2017. Legal System and Judicial Independence Angola’s legal system is primarily based on the Portuguese legal system and can be considered civil law based, with legislation as the primary source of law. Courts base their judgments on legislation and there is no binding precedent as understood in common law systems. The constitution is considered the supreme law of Angola (article 6(1)) and all laws and conduct are valid only if they conform to the constitution (article 6(3.)) The Angolan justice system is slow, arduous, and often partial. Legal fees are high, and most businesses avoid taking commercial disputes to court in the country. The World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 survey ranks Angola 186 out of 190 countries on contract enforcement, and estimates that commercial contract enforcement, measured by time elapsed between filing a complaint and receiving restitution, takes an average of 1,296 days, at an average cost of 44.4 percent of the claim. Angola has commercial legislation that governs all contracts and commercial activities but no specialized court. On August 5, 2020, the Economic Council of Ministers approved the opening of the Court for Litigation on Commercial, Intellectual, and Industrial Property Matters, at the Luanda First Instance Court. With the introduction of this commercial court, the GRA hopes the business environment and trust in public institutions will improve. Prior to this arrangement, trade disputes were resolved by judges in the Courts of Common Pleas. The commercial legislation provides that before going to court, investors can challenge the decision under the terms of the administrative procedural rules, either through a complaint (to the entity responsible for the decision) or through an appeal (to the next level above the entity responsible for the decision). In the new system, investors will be able, in general, to appeal to civil and administrative courts. Both administrative procedures and lawsuits are extremely bureaucratic and time-consuming. Investors exercising their right to appeal should expect decisions to take months, or even years, in the case of court decisions. In 2008, the Angolan attorney general ruled that Angola’s specialized tax courts were unconstitutional. The ruling effectively left businesses with no legal recourse to dispute taxes levied by the Ministry of Finance, as the general courts consistently rule that they have no authority to hear tax dispute cases and refer all cases back to the Ministry of Finance for resolution. Angola’s Law 22/14, of December 5, 2014, which approved the Tax Procedure Code (TPC), sets forth in its Article 5 that the courts with tax and customs jurisdiction are the Tax and Customs Sections of the Provincial Courts and the Civil, Administrative, Tax and Customs Chamber of the Supreme Court. Article 5.3 of the law specifically states that tax cases pending with other courts must be sent to the Tax and Customs Section of the relevant court, except if the discovery phase (i.e., the production of proof) has already begun. In 2008, the Angolan attorney general ruled that Angola’s specialized tax courts were unconstitutional. The ruling effectively left businesses with no legal recourse to dispute taxes levied by the Ministry of Finance, as the general courts consistently rule that they have no authority to hear tax dispute cases and refer all cases back to the Ministry of Finance for resolution. Angola’s Law 22/14, of December 5, 2014, which approved the Tax Procedure Code (TPC), sets forth in its Article 5 that the courts with tax and customs jurisdiction are the Tax and Customs Sections of the Provincial Courts and the Civil, Administrative, Tax and Customs Chamber of the Supreme Court. Article 5.3 of the law specifically states that tax cases pending with other courts must be sent to the Tax and Customs Section of the relevant court, except if the discovery phase (i.e., the production of proof) has already begun. The judicial system is administered by the Ministry of Justice at trial level for provincial and municipal courts and the supreme court nominates provincial court judges. In 1991, the constitution was amended to guarantee judicial independence. However, per the 2010 constitution, the president appoints supreme court judges for life upon recommendation of an association of magistrates and appoints the attorney general. Confirmation by the General Assembly is not required. Angola enacted a new Criminal Code and a new Criminal Procedure Code in November 2020 which entered into force on February 9, 2021 to better align the legal framework with internationally accepted principles and standards, with an emphasis on white-collar crimes and corruption. The system lacks resources and independence to play an effective role though the legal reforms extend criminal liability for corruption offenses and other crimes to legal entities; provide for private sector corruption offenses to face similar fines and imprisonment to the punishments applicable to the public sector and modernize and broaden the list of criminal offenses against the financial system. There is a general right of appeal to the court of first instance against decisions from the primary courts. To enforce judgments/orders, a party must commence further proceedings called executive proceedings with the civil court. The main methods of enforcing judgments are: Execution orders (to pay a sum of money by selling the debtor’s assets). Delivery of assets; and Provision of information on the whereabouts of assets. The Civil Procedure Code also provides ordinary and extraordinary appeals. Ordinary appeals consist of first appeals, review appeals, interlocutory appeals, and full court appeals, while extraordinary appeals consist of further appeals and third-party interventions. Generally, an appeal does not operate as a stay of the decision of the lower court unless expressly provided for as much in the Civil Procedure Code. Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment The GRA is favorable to FDI and offers freedom of establishment in all sectors with exception a few that have been traditionally been closed to FDI: military aircraft and security equipment, the activities of the Central Bank, ports, and airports. However, in 2020, the GRA encouraged foreign investors to take over management of ports and airports under the Privatization Program (PROPRIV). The acquisition of holdings is also possible. A special investment regime applies to the oil, gas, diamond, and financial sectors. Investment values exceeding USD 10m, require an investment contract with the Angolan Government and must be authorized by the Council of Ministers and finally approved by the President. Investment values exceeding USD 10m, require an investment contract with the Angolan Government and must be authorized by the Council of Ministers and finally approved by the President. Investors, foreigners or not, theoretically have the same right of access to incentives, even if the policy of “Angolanization” aims to promote the employment of nationals. Regarding capital repatriations, the law guarantees foreign investors the right to transfer dividends or other income from direct investment out of the country. Starting in 2020, importing capital from foreign investors willing to invest in Angolan companies is immune from licensing by the Angolan central bank. AIPEX is the investment and export promotion regulation center tasked with promoting Angola’s export potential, legal framework, environment, and investment opportunities in the country and abroad. Housed within the Ministry of Industry & Commerce, AIPEX is also responsible for ensuring the application of the 2018 NPIL on foreign direct investments, entered into force on June 26, 2018. Competition and Antitrust Laws On May 17, 2018 Angola’s National Assembly approved the nation’s first anti-trust law. The law set up the creation of the Competition Regulatory Authority, which prevents and cracks down on actions of economic agents that fail to comply with the rules and principles of competition. The Competition Regulatory Authority of Angola (Autoridade Reguladora da Concorrência – ARC) was created by Presidential Decree no. 313/18, of December 21, 2018, and it succeeds the now defunct Instituto da Concorrência e Preços. It has administrative, financial, patrimonial and regulatory autonomy, and is endowed with broad supervisory and sanctioning powers, including the power to summon and question persons, request documents, carry out searches and seizures, and seal business premises. The ARC is responsible, in particular, for the enforcement of the new Competition Act of Angola, approved by Law no. 5/18, of May 10, 2018 and subsequently implemented by Presidential Decree no. 240/18, of October 12. The Act has a wide scope of application, pertaining to both private and state-owned undertakings, and covers all economic activities with a nexus to Angola. The Competition Act prohibits agreements and anti-competitive practices, both between competitors (“horizontal” practices, the most serious example of which are cartels), as well as between companies and its suppliers or customers, within the context of “vertical” relations. Equally prohibited is abusive conduct practiced by companies in a dominant position, such as the refusal to provide access to essential infrastructures, the unjustified rupture of commercial relations and the practice of predatory pricing, as well as the abusive exploitation, by one or more companies, of economically dependent suppliers or clients. Prohibited practices are punishable by heavy fines that range from one to ten percent of the annual turnover of the companies involved. Offending companies that collaborate with the ARC, by disclosing conduct until then unknown or producing evidence on a voluntary basis, may benefit from significant fine reductions, under a leniency program yet to be developed and implemented by the ARC. Considering the ample powers and potentially heavy sanctions at the disposal of the ARC, companies present in (or planning to enter) Angola are well advised to consider carefully the impact of the new law on their activities, in order to mitigate any risk that its market conduct may be found contrary to the Competition Act. With the surge of the privatization agenda in 2019 and ongoing anti-corruption and asset recovery strategy and privatization of SOEs program, the Institute of Assets and State Equity (IGAPE) also emerged in providing oversight for acquisitions and mergers Expropriation and Compensation Under the Land Tenure Act of November 9, 2004 and the General Regulation on the Concession of Land (Decree no 58/07 of July 13, 2007), all land belongs to the state and the state reserves the right to expropriate land from any settlers. The state is only allowed to transfer ownership of urban real estate to Angolan nationals and may not grant ownership over rural land to any private entity (regardless of nationality), corporate entities or foreign entities. The state may allow for land usage through a 60-year lease to either Angolan or foreign persons (individuals or corporate), after which the state reserves legal right to take over ownership. On January 24, 2020 Parliament approved the revised Law of Expropriations by Public Utility putting into practice the general principles contained in articles 15, no. 3 and 37, of the Angolan Constitution, which recognize the right to private property and establish that expropriations are only allowed when based on reasons of public interest and upon payment of fair and prompt compensation. The National Assembly also approved Law No. 1/21 on January 7, 2020, which approves the Expropriation Law and revokes legislation that governed this matter since before Angola’s independence. Despite the reforms, expropriation without compensation remains a common practice with idle or underdeveloped areas frequently reverting to the state with little or no compensation to the claimants who paid for the land, who in most cases allege unfair treatment. In order to implement these fundamental principles, the Expropriation Law establishes the specific procedure that governs expropriation. The new law justifies expropriation for public utility and for other purposes such as defense and national security, the creation of new housing clusters, development of Special Economic Zones and Free Trade Zones, industrial use of mines and mineral deposits, water resources, operation of public services, operation of public transport systems, construction and assembly of power plants, substations and transmission lines integrated in the linked electrical system, as well as any other cases of public utility that may be established in special legislation. Dispute Settlement ICSID Convention and New York Convention Angola is not a member state to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID Convention) but has ratified the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. On March 6, 2017, the Government of Angola deposited its instrument of accession to the Convention with the UN Secretary General. The Convention entered into force on June 4, 2017. Its ratification was endorsed domestically via resolution No. 38/2016, published in the Official Gazette of Angola on August 12, 2016. Investor-State Dispute Settlement The Angolan Arbitration Law (Law 16/2003 of July 25) (Voluntary Arbitration Law — VAL) provides for domestic and international arbitration. Substantially inspired by Portuguese 1986 arbitration law, it cannot be said to strictly follow the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration. The VAL contains no provisions on definitions, rules on interpretation, adopts the disposable rights criterion in regard to arbitration, does not address preliminary decisions or distinguish between different types of awards, and permits appeal on the merits in domestic arbitrations, unless the parties have otherwise agreed. Angola is also a member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), which can provide dispute settlement assistance as part of its political risk insurance products and eligibility for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth Opportunity Act. The United States and Angola have signed a TIFA, which seeks to promote greater trade and investment between the two nations. There have not been any judicial proceedings or claims under the TIFA. Angola has no FTA agreement with the United States. U.S. Embassy Luanda is aware of one ongoing formal investment dispute involving an American company since 2017. To date, the U.S. investor’s complaints against the GRA remain unsettled. The GRA denies being party to the investor dispute and advised the plaintiff to file a case in Angolan courts against its business partner. The GRA recognizes this case as being an investor-to-investor and not investor-to-state dispute. International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts Other means of alternative dispute resolution are not mandatory by law and, therefore not commonly used in commercial disputes. Under the Public Procurement Law, in the case of a dispute related to the termination of a public works contract, before the judicial proceeding takes place it is mandatory that an extrajudicial conciliation attempt be made. The extrajudicial conciliation attempt takes place before a committee composed of one representative of each of the parties and chaired by the President of the Superior Council of Public Works or a member designated by him for this purpose, within 30 days after the written application and answer of the parties. If the attempt to conciliate is successful, the written terms and conditions must be submitted to the approval of the Minister of Public Works and are then valid as enforceable title. Angola recognizes and enforces foreign arbitration rulings against its government. However, extra-judicial cases against foreign investors are rare. Although not widely implemented, the Government of Angola and public sector companies recognize the use of arbitration to settle disputes with foreign arbitration awards issued in foreign courts. Commercial contracts usually include arbitration clauses if foreign companies are involved. Arbitration proceedings are more flexible than litigation through the courts and less time is required to obtain a resolution. Additionally, appointed arbitrators are often experts in the matters in dispute and, as such, the decisions are of higher quality. However, arbitration proceedings are sometimes more expensive than judicial proceedings. Bankruptcy Regulations Angola ranks 168 out of 190 on the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report on resolving insolvency. Banks are bound to comply with prudential rules aimed at ensuring that they always maintain a minimum amount of funds not less than the minimal stock capital to ensure adequate levels of liquidity and solvability. The Bankruptcy Regime is summarized in the antiquated Code of Civil Procedure. The Ministry of Justice has begun to conduct studies to identify the most appropriate mechanisms for insolvency resolution, as well as to deepen its general legal and regulatory framework, taking as references the best international practices. Banking insolvency is regulated by the Law on Financial Institutions No. 12/2015 of June 17, 2015. Based on this law, the BNA increases the social capital requirement for banks operating in the country to guard against possible damages to clients and the financial system. All monetary deposits up to 12.5 million Kwanzas (USD 27,000 equivalent) are also to be deposited into the BNA’s Deposit Guarantee Funds account (Presidential Decree 195/18 of 2018) so that clients (both local and foreign) are guaranteed a refund in case of bankruptcy by their respective bank. Article 69 of the law expressly states that it is the responsibility of the President of the Republic to create the fund, but it is silent on the rules governing its operation or the amounts guaranteed by the fund. While Angola’s arbitration law (Arbitration Law No. 16/03) for insolvency adopted in 2013 introduced the concept of domestic and international arbitration, the practice of arbitration law is still not widely implemented. The law criminalizes bankruptcy under the following classification: condemnation in Angola or abroad for crimes of fraudulent bankruptcy, i.e., involvement of shareholders or managers in fraudulent activities that result in the bankruptcy, negligence bankruptcy, forgery, robbery, or involvement in other crimes of an economic nature. The Ministry of Finance, the BNA and the Capital Markets Commission (CMC) oversee credit monitoring and regulation. 5. Protection of Property Rights Real Property Transparency and land property rights are critical for Angolan economic development, given that two thirds of Angolans work in agriculture and are directly dependent on land property rights. However, the Land Act (Lei de Terras de Angola) has not been revised since its approval in December 2004. While the Land Act is a crucial step toward addressing issues of land tenure, normalization of land ownership in Angola persists with problems such as difficulties in completing land claims, land grabbing, lack of reliable government records, and unresolved status of traditional land tenure. Among other provisions, the law included a formal mechanism for transforming traditional land property rights into legal land property rights (clean titles). During the civil war, a transparent system of land property rights did not exist, so it was crucial to re-establish one shortly after the end of hostilities in 2002. According to the “Land Act,” the State may transfer or constitute, for the benefit of Angolan natural or legal persons, a multiplicity of land rights on land forming part of its private domain. Although, it is possible to transfer ownership over some categories of land, the transfer of State land almost never implies the transfer of its ownership, but only the formation of minor land rights with leasehold being the most common form in Angola. The recipient of private property rights from the State can only transfer those rights with consent of the local authority and after a period of five years of effective use of the land according to the Land Act. Weak land tenure legislation and lack of secure legal guarantees (clean titles) are the reasons given by most commercial banks for their greater than 80 percent refusal rate for loans since land is used as collateral. Foreign real-estate developers therefore seek out public-private partnership (PPP) arrangements with State actors who can provide protection against land disputes and financial risks involved in projects that require significant cash outlays to get started. Registering parcels of land over 10,000 hectares must be approved by the Council of Ministers. Registering property takes 190 days on average, ranking 167 out of 173 according to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 survey, with fees averaging three percent of property value. Owners must also wait five years after purchasing before reselling land. There are no written regulations setting out guidelines defining different forms of land occupation, including commercial use, traditional communal use, leasing, and private use. Over the years, the government has given out large parcels of land to individuals in order to support the development of commercial agriculture. However, this process has largely proceeded in an unsystematic way and does not follow any formal rule change on land tenure by the State. Before obtaining proof of title nationwide, an Angolan citizen or an Angolan legal entity must also obtain the Real or Leasing Rights (“Usufruct”) of the Land from the Institute of Planning and Urban Management of Luanda (IPGUL), an often-time-consuming procedure that can take up to a year or more. However, if a company already owns the land, it must secure a land property title deed from the Real Estate Registry in Luanda. An updated property certificate (“certidão predial”) is obtained from the relevant Real Estate Registry, with the complete description of the property including owner(s) information and any charges, liens, and/or encumbrances pending on the property. The complex administration of property laws and regulations that govern land ownership and transfer of real property as well as its tedious registration process may reduce investor appetite for real estate investments in Angola. Dispatch no. 174/11 of March 11, 2011 mandates the total fees for the “certidão predial” include stamp duty (calculated according to the Law on Stamp Duty); justice fees (calculated according to the Law on Justice Fees); fees to justice officers (according to the set contributions for the Justice budget); along with notary and other fees. The total fee is also dependent on the current value of the fiscal unit (UCF). Intellectual Property Rights Angola is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and follows international patent classifications of patents, products, and services to identify and codify requests for patents and trademark registration. Angola is also member of the Paris Convention where each contracting state must grant the same IP protection to nationals of other contracting states and provides for the right of priority in the case of patents, trademarks and designs. It also recognizes the goods and services classes from the Nice Classification and allows for multi-class filing. The Nice Classification, established by the Nice Agreement, is an international classification for the registration of trademarks. Trademark registration is mandatory to be granted rights over a mark. Angolan trademarks are valid for 10 years from the filing date and renewable for further periods of 10 years. The Instituto Angolano de Propriedade Intelectual (IAPI) is the governmental body within the Ministry of Industry & Commerce charged with implementing patent and trademark law. The Ministry of Culture, Tourism & Environment oversees copyright law. Implemented by the Presidential Decree No. 62/20 of March 4, the new official fees related to Industrial Property procedures in Angola, were published in the Official Gazette of the Angola Republic. The new fees came into force on March 20, 2020 and reflect an increase of values in all Industrial Property procedures practiced in this jurisdiction, updating rates that have remained unchanged for more than 20 years. The most significant alteration with respect to trademarks, consists of joining in a single fee, paid at the time of the registration application, the filing fees, the first and second publication fees, and the granting and registration certificate fees. With regard to patents, additional fees are due for each claim after the 15th. Additionally, the request for the anticipation or postponement of the publication of a patent is now provided by the new applicable fees. Angola is not listed in United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) Special 301 report nor the notorious market report. For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ . The U.S. Embassy point of contact for IPR related issues is Logan Council ( CouncilLR@state.gov ). For legal counsel, refer to Angola’s Country Commercial Guide Local Professional Services List ( http://export.gov/ccg/angola090710.asp 10. Political and Security Environment Angola maintains a politically stable environment. Politically motivated violence is not a high risk, and incidents are rare. The last significant incident of political violence happened in 2010 during an attack against the Togolese national soccer team by FLEC-PM (Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda—Military Position) in the northern province of Cabinda. FLEC threatened Chinese workers in Cabinda in 2015 and claimed in 2016 that they would return to active armed struggle against the Angolan government forces. No attacks have since ensued and the FLEC has remained relatively inactive. President Lourenco has pledged to govern for all Angolans and to combat two of the country’s major problems: corruption and mismanagement of public funds. President Lourenco’s government seeks reform of the state and national cohesion. Local elections – “Autarquias” –were anticipated to take place in 2020 but have not yet occurred due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the lack of key legislation governing the elections. Angola is also becoming more assertive and demonstrating a more steadfast commitment to peace and stability in Africa, particularly in the Great Lakes region. In 2019 and 2020 it facilitated an agreement to end mounting tensions between the Rwanda and Uganda. Angola maintains the rotating presidency of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and has played an important convening role on the situation in the Central African Republic. With Angola’s economy continuing to struggle, social dissatisfaction is on the rise and is triggering reactions particularly among Angolan young adults who take to the streets occasionally to protest against overall economic hardship and unrealized political pledges. Large pockets of the population live in poverty without adequate access to basic services, and the country could benefit from more inclusive development policies. According to the 2018/2019 Expenditure and Income Survey from the National Institute of Statistics, the poverty index was at 40.6%. A social protection scheme program has been launched with a pilot cash transfer project which will benefit over 1.6 million vulnerable families until 2022 around the country. Chad 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment The GOC’s policies towards foreign direct investment (FDI) are generally positive. Chad’s laws and regulations encourage FDI, and there are few formal restrictions on foreign trade and investment. Under Chadian law, foreign and domestic entities may establish and own business enterprises. The National Investment Charter of 2008 permits full foreign ownership of companies in Chad. The only limit on foreign control is on ownership of companies deemed related to national security. The National Investment Charter guarantees both foreign companies and individuals equal standing with Chadian companies and individuals in the privatization process. In principle, tenders for foreign investment in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and for government contracts are conducted through open international bid procedures. The National Investment Charter also offers incentives to certain foreign companies establishing significant operations in Chad, including up to five years of tax-exempt status. Chad’s National Agency for Investment and Exports (ANIE, Agence Nationale des Investissements et des Exports), an agency of the Ministry of Industrial and Commercial Development & Private Sector Promotion, facilitates foreign investment. ANIE’s mandate is to contribute to the creation of a business environment that meets international standing, promote investment and exports, support the development of SMEs, and inform GOC decision makers about economic policy. ANIE acts as a one-stop shop for new investors. Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment There are no limits on foreign ownership or control. There are no sector-specific restrictions that discriminate against market access for U.S. or other foreign investors, and no de facto anti-foreign discriminatory practices. Other Investment Policy Reviews UNCTAD published a French-language Investment Policy Review on Chad in July 2019 ( https://investmentpolicy.unctad.org/publications/1212/investment-policy-review-of-chad ). The World Trade Organization (WTO) published a joint trade policy review for Chad, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Gabon, and Central African Republic in 2013 ( https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp385_e.htm ), and a standalone trade policy review for Chad in 2007 ( https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp275_e.htm ). The OECD has not published any investment policy reviews of Chad. Business Facilitation Foreign businesses interested in investing in or establishing an office in Chad should contact ANIE, which offers a one-stop shop for filing the legal forms needed to start a business. The process officially takes 72 hours and is the most important legal requirement for investment. ANIE’s website ( www.anie-tchad.com ) provides additional information. Online business registration is not yet available via the Global Enterprise Registration web site ( www.GER.co ) or the Business Facilitation Program ( www.businessfacilitation.org ). The World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report ranked Chad 182 out of 190 countries for ease of starting a business, which included factors beyond registration such as permitting and access to office space, energy, and capital. Contracts are tailored to each investment and often include additional incentives and concessions, such as permissions to import labor or agreements to work with specific local suppliers. Some contracts are confidential. Occasionally, government ministries attempt to change the terms of contracts or apply new laws broadly, even to companies that have pre-existing agreements that exempt them. Chad’s judicial system is weak, and rulings, including those relating to contract disputes, are susceptible to government interference. There is limited capacity within the judiciary to address commercial issues, including contract disputes. Parties usually settle disputes directly or through arbitration provided by the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture, Mining, and Crafts (CCIAMA) or through an outside entity, such as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris. Outward Investment The GOC does not offer any programs or incentives encouraging outward investment. The GOC does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad. 3. Legal Regime Transparency of the Regulatory System Chad implements laws to foster competition and establish clear rules based on Uniform Acts produced by the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA, Organisation pour l’Harmonisation en Afrique du Droit des Affaires, www.ohada.com ). However, certain Chadian and foreign companies may encounter difficulties from well-established companies with a corner on the market, discouraging competition. Regulations and financial policies generally do not impede competition in the financial sector. Legal, regulatory, and accounting systems pertaining to banking are transparent and consistent with international norms. Chad began using OHADA’s accounting system in 2002, bringing its national standards into harmony with accounting systems throughout the region. Several international accounting firms have offices in Chad. However, while accounting, legal, and regulatory procedures are consistent with international norms, some local firms do not use generally accepted standards and procedures in their business practices. Chad develops forward regulatory plans to encourage foreign investment and budget support. Government ministries draft regulations, subject to approval by the Secretary General of the Government, Council of Ministers, National Assembly, and President. National regulations are most relevant to foreign investors. There are no informal regulatory processes managed by nongovernmental organizations or private sector associations. The GOC occasionally provides opportunities for local associations, such as the National Council of Employers (CNPT, Conseil National du Patronat Tchadien) or the CCIAMA to comment on proposed laws and regulations pertaining to investment. All contracts and practices are subject to legal review, which can be weak. The Government publishes all budget information, including on the Ministry of Finance and Budget website. Other proposed laws and regulations are not published in draft form for public comment. The Observatory on Public Finance is an online framework for the dissemination of public finance data and the operationalization of the Code of Transparency and Good Governance. This code is an implementation of one of the six CEMAC Directives on the new harmonized framework for public financial management. The Presidential Council to Improve the Business Climate was announced in 2018, met once in late 2019, and formally launched in January 2021 due to the negative impact of COVID-19 in 2020. This effort to reform Chad’s investment climate and improve Chad’s performance in World Bank assessments is still in its embryonic stage. Chad is not listed on www.businessfacilitation.org . International Regulatory Considerations Chad has been a member of the WTO since October 19, 1996 and a member of GATT since July 12, 1963. Chad is a member of OHADA and the CEMAC ( www.cemac.int ). Since 2017, Chad is gradually implementing business and economic laws and regulations based on CEMAC standards and OHADA Uniform Acts. Chad’s banking sector is regulated by COBAC (Commission Bancaire de l’Afrique Centrale), a regional agency. Legal System and Judicial Independence Chad’s legal system and commercial law are based on the French Civil Code. The constitution recognizes customary and traditional law if it does not interfere with public order or constitutional rights. Chad’s judicial system rules on commercial disputes in a limited technical capacity. The Chadian President appoints judges without National Assembly confirmation, and thus the judiciary may be subject to executive influence. Courts normally award monetary judgments in local currency, although it may designate awards in foreign currencies based on the circumstances of the disputed transaction. Chad’s commercial laws are based on standards promulgated by CEMAC, OHADA, and the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC, Communaute Economique des Etats de l’Afrique Centrale, http://www.ceeac-eccas.org ). The Government and National Assembly are in the process of adopting legislation to comply fully with all these provisions. Specialized commercial tribunal courts were authorized in 1998 and operationalized in 2004. These tribunals exist in five major cities but lack adequate technical capacity to perform their duties. Firms not satisfied with judgments in these tribunals may appeal to OHADA’s regional court in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, that ensures uniformity and consistent legal interpretations across its member countries. Several Chadian companies have done so. OHADA also allows foreign companies to utilize tribunals outside of Chad, generally in Paris, France, to adjudicate business disputes. Finally, CEMAC established a regional court in N’Djamena in 2001 to hear business disputes, but this body is not widely used. Contracts and investment agreements can stipulate arbitration procedures and jurisdictions for settlement of disputes. If both parties agree and settlements do not violate Chadian law, Chadian courts will respect the decisions of courts in the nations where particular agreements were signed, including the United States. This principle also applies to disputes between foreign companies and the Chadian Government. Such disputes can be arbitrated by the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). Foreign companies frequently choose to include clauses in their contract to mandate ICC arbitration. Bilateral judicial cooperation is in effect between Chad and certain nations. Chad signed the Antananarivo Convention in 1970, covering the discharge of judicial decisions and serving of legal documents, with eleven other former French colonies (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, CAR, Congo-Brazzaville, Gabon, Cote d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Mauritania, Niger, and Senegal). Chad has similar arrangements in place with France, Nigeria, and Sudan. Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment The National Investment Charter encourages foreign direct investment. Chad is a member of CEMAC and OHADA. Since 2017, Chad is gradually implementing business and economic laws and regulations based on CEMAC standards and OHADA Uniform Acts. Foreign investors using the court system are not generally subject to executive interference. In addition, the OHADA Treaty allows foreign companies to utilize tribunals outside of Chad, e.g., the ICC in Paris, France, to adjudicate any disputes. Companies may also access the OHADA’s court located in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Foreign businesses interested in investing in or establishing an office in Chad should contact ANIE, which offers a one-stop shop for filing the legal forms needed to start a business. The process officially takes 72 hours and is the most important legal requirement for investment. ANIE’s website ( www.anie-tchad.com ) provides additional information. Competition and Anti-Trust Laws Regulation of competition is covered by the OHADA Uniform Acts that form the basis for Chadian business and economic laws and regulations. The Office of Competition in Chad’s Ministry of Industrial and Commercial Development & Private Sector Promotion reviews transactions for competition-related concerns. Expropriation and Compensation Chadian law protects businesses from nationalization and expropriation, except in cases where expropriation is in the public interest. There were no government expropriations of foreign-owned property in 2020. There are no indications that the GOC intends to expropriate foreign property in the near future. Chad’s Fourth Republic Constitution adopted in May 2018 and amended in December 2020 prohibits seizure of private property except in cases of urgent public need, of which there are no known cases. A 1967 Land Law prohibits deprivation of ownership without due process, stipulating that the state may not take possession of expropriated properties until 15 days after the payment of compensation. The government continues to work on reform of the 1967 law. Dispute Settlement ICSID Convention and New York Convention Chad has been a signatory and contracting state of the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (“ICSID Convention”) since 1966. Chad is not a contracting state of the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (“New York Arbitration Convention”). Investor-State Dispute Settlement Chad is signatory to an investment agreement among the member states of CEMAC, CEAC, and OHADA. The OHADA Investment Arrangement, with provisions for securities, arbitration, dispute settlement, bankruptcy, recovery, and other aspects of commercial regulation, has defined the commercial rights of several economic stakeholders, e.g., the Chadian Treasury, and provides for the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards. Chad has no Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) or Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with an investment chapter with the United States. There is no formal record of the government’s handling of investment disputes. Some U.S. and other foreign investors have been involved in disputes with the GOC, particularly over issues regarding taxes and duties, though there are no official statistics. Investment disputes involving foreign investors are frequently arbitrated by an independent body. International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts In addition to independent courts, such as the ICC, Chad’s constitution recognizes customary and traditional law as long as it does not interfere with public order or constitutional rights. As most businesses operate in the informal sector, customary and traditional law function as alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms when parties are from the same tribe or clan and express their desire to settle outside of the formal court. Specialized commercial tribunal courts were authorized in 1998 and became operational in 2004. These tribunals exist in five major cities but lack adequate capacity to perform their duties. The N’Djamena Commercial Tribunal has heard disputes involving foreign companies. Foreign investors using the court system are not generally subject to executive interference. In addition, the OHADA Treaty allows foreign companies to utilize tribunals outside of Chad, e.g., the ICC in Paris, France, to adjudicate any disputes. Companies may also access OHADA’s court located in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. Bankruptcy Regulations Chad’s bankruptcy laws are based on OHADA Uniform Acts. According to Section 3, Articles 234 – 239 of OHADA’s Uniform Insolvency Act, creditors and equity shareholders may designate trustees to lodge complaints or claims to the commercial court collectively or individually. These laws criminalize bankruptcy and the OHADA provisions grant Chad the discretion to apply its own sentences. The World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report ranked Chad’s ease of resolving insolvency at 155 of 190 ( http://www.doingbusiness.org/data/exploreeconomies/chad/#resolving-insolvency ). 5. Protection of Property Rights Real Property The Chadian Civil Code protects property rights. Since 2013, landowners may register land titles with the One-Stop Land Titling Office (Guichet Unique pour les Affaires Foncieres). However, enforcement of these rights is difficult because a majority of landowners do not have a title or a deed for their property. The office of Domain and Registration (Direction de Domaine et Enregistrement) in the Ministry of Finance and Budget is responsible for recording property deeds and mortgages. In practice, this office asserts authority only in urban areas; rural property titles are managed by traditional leaders who apply customary law. Chadian courts frequently deal with cases of multiple or conflicting titles to the same property. In cases of multiple titles, the earliest title issued usually has precedence. Fraud is common in property transactions. By law, all land for which no title exists is owned by the government and can only be given to a separate entity by Presidential decree. There have been incidents in which the government has reclaimed land for which individuals held titles, which government officials granted to other individuals without the backing of Presidential decrees. The GOC does not provide clear definitions and protections of traditional use rights of indigenous peoples, tribes, or farmers. The World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report ranked Chad 131 of 190 in ease of registering property. The report cited the high cost of property valuation plus other associated costs for registering property as the major impediment. Time required and number of procedures are on par with the rest of Sub-Saharan Africa. ( https://www.doingbusiness.org/en/data/exploreeconomies/chad#DB_rp ) Intellectual Property Rights Chad is a member of the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Chad ratified the revised Bangui Agreement (1999) in 2000 and the Berne Convention in 1971. The GOC adheres to OAPI rules within the constraints of its administrative capacity. Within the Ministry responsible for trade, the Department of Industrial Property and Technology addresses intellectual property rights (IPR) issues. This department is the National Liaison Unit (SNL) within the OAPI and is the designated point of contact under Article 69 of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Counterfeit pharmaceuticals and artistic works, including music and videos, are common in Chad. Counterfeit watches, sports clothing, footwear, jeans, cosmetics, perfumes, and other goods are also readily available on the Chadian market. These products are not produced locally and are generally imported through informal channels. Despite limited resources, Chadian customs officials make occasional efforts to enforce copyright laws, normally by seizing and burning counterfeit medicines, CDs, and mobile phones. Chad does not regularly track and report on seizures of counterfeit goods. Occasionally, Chadian authorities will announce such a seizure in the local press. Customs officers have the authority to seize and destroy counterfeit goods ex officio. The Government pays for storage and destruction of such goods. Chad is not listed on the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or Notorious Markets List. For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ . 10. Political and Security Environment Chad has enjoyed political stability since 2008. There have been no reported incidents in recent years involving politically motivated damage to projects and/or installations, including during the 2008 disturbances. President Deby is completing his fifth elected presidential term and is eligible to participate in the next presidential elections, scheduled for April 2021. Socio-economic conditions occasionally spark demonstrations and protests against the Government. In many cases, the government either denied permits for demonstrations or suppressed them using tear gas, arresting participants and organizers. Extended periods of reduced oil revenues add to socioeconomic stress. The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic strains Chad’s limited medical infrastructure and disrupts trade routes with neighboring countries and international air travel. Regional violent extremist organizations threaten Chadian and Western interests. Boko Haram’s violence has choked off vital trade routes with Nigeria and the road between N’Djamena and Douala, Cameroon, the principal port serving Chad. This has increased costs for imports and decreased exports. Violent extremist organizations may threaten foreign investments along the Lake Chad Basin. For up-to-date information on political and security conditions in Chad, please refer to the Consular Affairs Bureau’s Travel Warning and Country Specific Information at http://www.travel.state.gov. The Embassy encourages all U.S. Citizens visiting Chad to register with the Embassy upon arrival or online via the STEP program. U.S. businesses and organizations in Chad are welcome to inquire at the Embassy about joining the Overseas Security Advisory Committee (OSAC). Democratic Republic of the Congo 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment The ascension of Felix Tshisekedi to the Presidency in January 2019 and his welcoming attitude toward foreign direct investment (FDI), particularly from the United States, have raised hopes that the DRC government (GDRC) can impose and follow through on favorable FDI policies. Favorable FDI laws exist, but the judicial system is slow to protect investors’ rights and is susceptible to political pressure and corruption. Investors hope Tshisekedi can create a more favorable enabling environment by business climate reform, better rule of law, and tackling corruption. The DRC’s rich endowment of natural resources, large population and generally open trading system provide significant potential opportunities for U.S. investors. The major regulations governing FDI are found in the Investment Code Act (No. 004/2002 of 21 February 2002). Current regulations reserve the practice of small retail commerce in DRC to nationals and ban foreign majority-ownership of agricultural concerns. The ordinance of August 8, 1990, clearly stipulates that “small business can only be carried out by Congolese.” Foreign investors should limit themselves to import trade as well as wholesale and semi-wholesale trade. Investors have expressed concern that the ban on foreign agricultural ownership will stifle any attempts to kick-start the agrarian sector. The National Investment Promotion Agency (ANAPI) is the official investment agency, which provides investment facilitation services for initial investments over USD 200,000. It is mandated to promote the positive image of the DRC and specific investment opportunities; advocate for the improvement of the business climate in the country and provide administrative support to new foreign investors who decide to establish or expand their economic activities on the national territory. More information is available at https://www.investindrc.cd/. The GDRC maintains an ongoing dialogue with investors to hear their concerns. There are several public and private sector forums which speak to the government on the investment climate in specific sectors. In 2019 President Tshisekedi created the business climate cell (CCA) to monitor the improvement of the economic environment and the business climate in the DRC, and to interface with the business community. The CCA in June 2020 presented a roadmap for reform. The public-private Financial and Technical Partners (PTF) mining group represents countries with significant mining investments in the DRC. The Federation of Congolese Enterprises (FEC), which is a privileged partner of the government and the workers’ unions, has a dialogue on business interests with the government. The FEC has relayed information to the government about the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the private sector. The FEC is also tracking post-Covid-19 investment sectors. Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment The GDRC provides the right for foreign and domestic private entities to establish and own business enterprises and engage in all forms of remunerative activity. The DRC law reserves small commerce exclusively for Congolese nationals and does not allow foreign investors to own more than 49 percent of an agribusiness. Many investors note that in practice the GDRC requires foreign investors to hire local agents and participate in a joint venture with the government or local partners. The GDRC promulgated a mining code in 2018 which increased royalty rates from two to ten percent, raised tax rates on “strategic” metals, and imposed a surcharge on “super profits” of mining companies. The government unilaterally removed a stability clause contained in the previous mining code protecting investors from any new fees or taxes for ten years. Removal of the stability clause may deter future investment in the mining sector. The Tshisekedi government has indicated that it is willing to reopen discussions on the new mining code. The GDRC does not maintain an organization to screen inbound investment. The Presidency and the ministries serve this purpose de facto. Other Investment Policy Reviews The DRC has not undergone a World Trade Organization (WTO), Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), or a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Investment Policy Review in the last three years. Cities with high custom clearance traffic use Sydonia https://asycuda.org/wp-content/uploads/Etude-de-Cas-SYDONIA-Contr%C3%B4le-de-la-Valeur-RDC.pdf, which is an advanced software system for custom administrations in compliance with ASYCUDA WORLD. (ASYCUDA is a large technical assistance software program recommended by UNCTAD for custom clearance management.) Business Facilitation The GDRC operates a “one-stop-shop” for Business Creation (GUCE) that brings together all the government entities involved in the registration of a company in the DRC. The goal is to permit the quick and simple registration of companies through one office in one location. In October 2020, President Tshisekedi instructed the government to restructure GUCE in order to ease its work with the various state organizations involved in its operation. More information is available at https://guichetunique.cd/. At the one-stop-shop, companies fill in a “formulaire unique” in order to register with the: Commercial Registry (GUCE); tax administration (Direction Générale des Impots); Ministry of Labor; and National Institute for Social Security (Institut National de Sécurité Sociale (“INSS”)). The Labor Inspection Department and the National Office of Employment (l’Office National de l’Emploi (“ONEM”)) are also to be notified of the establishment of the company. Companies may also need to obtain an operating permit, as required from some municipal councils. The registration process now officially takes three days, but in practice it can take much longer. Some businesses have reported that the GUCE has considerably shortened and simplified the overall process of business registration. Outward Investment The GDRC does not prohibit outward investment, nor does it particularly promote or incentivize it. There are no current government restrictions preventing domestic investors from investing abroad, and there are no currently blacklisted countries with which domestic investors are precluded from doing business. 2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties The U.S. DRC Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) was signed in 1984 and entered into force in 1989. The BIT guarantees reciprocal rights and privileges to each country’s investors and provides that, should a claim arise under the treaty, it can be submitted to a dispute resolution mechanism through international arbitration. U.S. companies have at times reported difficulties with the tax authorities from arbitrary enforcement of the taxation code. The DRC has bilateral investment treaties in force with France, Germany, Switzerland, and the United States. Treaties have been signed with Belgium-Luxembourg Economic Union, China, Egypt, Greece, India, Italy, Jordan, Portugal, Republic of Korea, South Africa, and Ukraine but these have not yet entered into force. Kenya is currently negotiating a BIT. Lebanon, Côte d’Ivoire, and Burkina Faso have negotiated, but not signed, BITs with the DRC. In October 2016, the DRC and Rwanda signed an agreement on a simplified trade regime covering only small-scale commerce between the countries. The AfCFTA is a continent-wide free-trade agreement brokered by the African Union (AU) that began on 1 January 2021, but hard work lies ahead. The DRC signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) in March 2018 and ratified it in April 2021. The Presidency will enact the law in 2021. The agreement aims to facilitate imports and exports among member countries – with lower or no tariffs, free access to the market and market information, and the elimination of trade barriers – and offer numerous benefits to SMEs. On January 1, 2021, the DRC again became eligible for benefits under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), after a 10-year exclusion due to concerns over human rights violations. AGOA provides African countries with duty-free access to the U.S. market for over 1,800 products for 20 years. Congo’s main exports of copper, and cobalt were tariff-free under the United States’ Generalized System of Preferences trade program. There is no bilateral taxation treaty between the United States and the DRC. In 2015, Zambia and the DRC signed a bilateral taxation treaty that abolished customs taxes across their common border. 3. Legal Regime Transparency of the Regulatory System Passed in 2019, the Law on Pricing, Freedom and Competition (the “Competition Act”) created a new Competition Commission charged with limiting control by one party over a market. DRC law mandates review if the turnover achieved is equal to or exceeds the amount determined by Decree of the Prime Minister upon proposal of the Minister of the Economy; if the parties hold a combined market share of 25% or more; or if the contemplated transaction creates / reinforces an already dominant position. DRC law requires notification prior to a corporate merger. It is unclear what penalties apply if there is no pre-notification. The DRC is a member of the regional competition bodies, COMESA and OHADA. OHADA does not have an operational merger control regime in place, while COMESA does have merger control. Merger activities in the DRC should be conducted with COMESA in mind. There are no informal regulations run by private or nongovernmental organizations that discriminate against foreign investors. However, some U.S. investors perceive the regulations in the mining code on local content as discriminatory against foreign investment. The GDRC authority on business standards, the Congolese Office of Control (OCC), oversees and develops regulations relevant to foreign businesses engaged in the DRC. There are no formal or informal provisions systematically employed by the GDRC to impede foreign investment. Companies most often complain of facing administrative hurdles as laws and regulations are often poorly or unevenly applied. Proposed laws and regulations are rarely published in draft format for public discussion and comment; discussion is typically limited to the governmental entity that proposes the draft law and Parliament prior to enactment. Sometimes the government will hold a public hearing after public appeals. The Official Gazette of the DRC is a specialized service of the Presidency of the Republic, which publishes and disseminates legislative and regulatory texts, judicial decisions, acts of companies, associations and political parties, designs, industrial models, trademarks as well as any other act referred to in the law. More information is available at http://www.leganet.cd/. There are no formal or informal provisions systematically employed by the GDRC to impede foreign investment. Companies often complain of facing administrative hurdles as laws and regulations are often poorly or unevenly applied. By implementing the OHADA system, the GDRC strengthened its legal framework in the areas of contract, company, and bankruptcy law and set up an accounting system better aligned to international standards. For this purpose, a Coordination Committee was established internally in the GDRC to monitor OHADA implementation. Tshisekedi created the Business Climate Unit (CCA) by a presidential order issued in February 2020. The mission of the CCA is to monitor the national business climate and enact regulatory reforms. The CCA announced a roadmap for reform in June 2020, but has yet to implement the recommended reforms. In November 2020, the GDRC launched the construction of the first Special Economic Zone, with the aim of attracting foreign investment and stimulating the creation of local businesses. This free zone offers tax and regulatory advantages for investors and entrepreneurs including a 5-to-10-year tax exemption. More information is available at https://www.azes-rdc.com/. The roadmap details priority and urgent reforms and awaits action by the Prime Minister and the new cabinet. In the long term, the first Special Economic Zone will promote exports and create 3,500 direct jobs. The DRC is a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), a multi-stakeholder initiative to increase transparency in transactions between governments and companies in the extractive industries. The DRC’s validation process for compliance with the EITI Standard commenced in November 2018. The initial report published by the International EITI Secretariat in April 2019 stated that the DRC EITI failed to adequately address 13 of the requirements of the EITI Standard, with two of these assessed as unmet with inadequate progress. The report also stressed the need to clarify the financial flows of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in the DRC’s extractive sector. In 2020, the DRC failed to meet the minimum requirements of fiscal transparency according to the State Department’s Fiscal Transparency report. While the DRC publishes budgets that are publicly available and timely, the published budgets were not reliable indicators of actual government spending. International Regulatory Considerations The DRC is a member of several regional economic blocs, including the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (“OHADA”), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and the Economic Community of the Great Lakes Countries (ECGLC). According to the Congolese National Standardization Committee, the DRC has adopted 470 harmonized COMESA standards, which are based on the European system. The DRC is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and seeks to comply with Trade Related Investment Measures (TRIM) requirements, including notifying regulations to the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). Legal System and Judicial Independence The DRC is a civil law country, and the main provisions of its private law can be traced to the Napoleonic Civil Code. The general characteristics of the Congolese legal system are similar to those of the Belgian system. Various local customary laws regulate both personal status laws and property rights, especially the inheritance and land tenure systems in traditional communities throughout the country. The Congolese legal system is divided into three branches: public law, private law, and economic law. Public law regulates legal relationships involving the state or state authority; private law regulates relationships between private persons; and economic law regulates interactions in areas such as labor, trade, mining, and investment. The DRC has written commercial and contractual law. In 2018, the DRC established thirteen commercial courts located in DRC’s main business cities, including Kinshasa, Lubumbashi, Matadi, Boma, Kisangani, and Mbuji-Mayi. These courts are designed to be led by professional judges specializing in commercial matters and exist in parallel to the judicial system. A lack of qualified personnel and reluctance by some DRC jurisdictions to fully recognize OHADA law and institutions have hindered the development of commercial courts. Legal documents in the DRC can be found at: http://www.leganet.cd/index.htm. The current executive branch has generally not interfered with judicial proceedings. The current judicial process is not procedurally reliable and its rulings are not always respected. The national court system provides an appeals mechanism under the OHADA framework. Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment The 2002 Investment Code governs most foreign direct investment (FDI), providing for the protection of investments. In practice, an inadequate legal system has insufficiently protected foreign investors in the event of a dispute. Mining, hydrocarbons, finance, and other sectors have sector-specific investment laws. ANAPI is the DRC agency with the mandate to simplify the investment process, make procedures more transparent, assist new foreign investors, and improve the image of the country as an investment destination (www.investindrc.cd). The GDRC has a “Guichet Unique,” which is a one-stop shop to simplify business creation, cutting processing time from five months to three days, and reducing incorporation fees from $3,000 to $120. (www.guichetunique.cd ). A “one-stop-shop” also exists for import-export business, covering aspects such as the collection of taxes and transshipment operations. (https://segucerdc.cd/ ). Competition and Antitrust Laws There is no national agency that reviews transactions for competition or antitrust-related concerns. As a member of COMESA, the DRC follows the COMESA Competition Regulations and rules, and the COMESA competition body regulates competition. In May 2020, Tshisekedi instructed the cabinet to better defend the GDRC’s interests in outstanding investor disputes, including if necessary, by agreeing to a settlement. This decision followed the announcement of two international court decisions unfavorable to the GDRC, which put the government liable for hundreds of millions of dollars. Expropriation and Compensation The GDRC may proceed with an expropriation when it benefits the public interest, and the person or entity subject to an expropriation should receive fair compensation. Companies report that the GDRC levies heavy fines in a form of financial expropriation. A government agency imposes fines due to a company’s failure to pay a tax, though often the tax regime is unclear and multiple government bodies impose different taxes. Companies that appeal these fines through the courts often encounter a long wait. There has not been an expropriation of property in the past three years, but there are a number of existing and long-standing claims made against the GDRC. Some claims have been taken to arbitration, though many arbitral judgments against the GDRC are not paid in a timely manner, if at all. Dispute Settlement ICSID Convention and New York Convention The DRC is a member of the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) Convention and a Contracting State to the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention). There is no specific domestic legislation providing for the enforcement of awards under the New York Convention. It is important to note that the New York Convention does not apply toward disputes relating to immovable property, which includes mining rights. Investor-State Dispute Settlement The DRC is subject to international arbitration. A U.S. mining company sued under the BIT to recover losses suffered when FARDC troops sacked its mine in Kasai Central Province in 1995. The arbitration courts ruled the GDRC liable for damages totaling $13 million, and the GDRC started paying back the awarded amount plus interest to the U.S. Company. There have been charges of extrajudicial action against foreign investors, including levying fines and imprisonment. In one case an investor left the country after being jailed on charges of corruption. International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts The DRC adopted the OHADA Uniform Act on Arbitration (the UAA). The UAA sets out the basic rules applicable to any arbitration where the seat of arbitration is located in an OHADA member state. The requirements set out under Article 5 of the New York Convention for the recognition and enforcement of foreign awards applies where the seat of any arbitration is outside an OHADA member state, or where the parties choose arbitration rules outside the UAA. OHADA‘s UAA offers an alternative dispute resolution mechanism for settling disputes between two parties where the place of arbitration is situated in a Member State. Disputes must be submitted to the Common Court of Justice and Arbitration (CCJA) in Abidjan in accordance with the provisions of the OHADA Treaty and the OHADA Arbitration Rules. The UAA, while not directly based on the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law, is similar in that it provides for the recognition and enforcement of arbitration agreements and arbitral awards and supersedes the national laws on arbitration to the extent that any conflict arises. Arbitral awards with a connection to an OHADA member state are given final and binding status in all OHADA member states, on par with a national court judgment. Support is provided by the CCJA which can rule on the application and interpretation of the UAA. Arbitral awards rendered in any OHADA Member State are enforceable in in the domestic courts of any other OHADA member state, subject to obtaining an exequatur (a legal document issued by a sovereign authority allowing a right to be enforced in the authority’s domain of competence) of the competent court of the State in which the award is to be made. Exequaturs are granted unless the award clearly affects public order in that State. Decisions granting or refusing to grant an exequatur may be appealed to the CCJA. In general, companies which fail to find a favorable judgment in domestic courts go to international courts for relief. This often drags the judicial process on for years. For domestic cases involving SOEs the courts often rule in favor of the SOEs. One attorney estimated that about five percent of cases have any transparency. Bankruptcy Regulations The OHADA Uniform Act on Insolvency Proceedings provides a comprehensive framework not only for companies encountering financial difficulties and seeking relief from the pressing demands of creditors, but also for creditors to file their claims. The GDRC judiciary system has agreed to enforce the OHADA Insolvency Act. Bankruptcy is not criminalized. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business Report, there were no foreclosure, liquidation or reorganization proceedings filed in the country in 2020, making it impossible to assess the time, cost or outcome for an insolvency proceeding. According to the World Bank, the DRC ranked 168th out of 190 countries on ease of resolving insolvency. 5. Protection of Property Rights Real Property The DRC’s Constitution protects private property ownership without discriminating between foreign and domestic investors. Despite this provision, the GDRC has acknowledged the absence of enforcement protecting property rights. Congolese law related to real property rights enumerates provisions for mortgages and liens. Real property (buildings and land) is protected and registered through the Ministry of Land’s Office of the Mortgage Registrar. Land registration may not fully protect property owners, as records are often incomplete and legal disputes over land deals are common. Many owners lack a clear registered title to the land. In addition, there is no specific regulation of real property lease or acquisition. Less than 10 percent of land have a clear property title, but the GDRC is in the process of promoting and encouraging people to regularize property titles by buying a final title called a “Record Certificate” (Certificat d’Enregistrement). Ownership interest in personal property (e.g., equipment, vehicles, etc.) is protected and registered through the Ministry of the Interior’s Office of the Notary. Intellectual Property Rights Intellectual property rights (IPR) are legally protected in the DRC, but enforcement of IPR regulations is limited. The DRC’s intellectual property laws date from the 1980s and remain in force. However, enforcement is weak, and IPR theft is common. The country is a signatory to a number of relevant agreements with international organizations such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is subject to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). Despite being officialy party to several international agreements that set minimum standards for IP, enforcement is lax due to low capacity, and a lack of awareness among consumers and businesses. The government does not keep a record of IPR violations. The DRC is not included in the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or Notorious Markets List. For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IPR offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ . 10. Political and Security Environment In January 2019, Felix Tshisekedi became President in the DRC’s first peaceful transition of power. Following President Felix Tshisekedi’s establishment of a new political alliance known as the “Sacred Union”, the former Prime Minister stepped down in February 2021. On February 15, a week after he was sworn in as Head of the African Union, President Tshisekedi appointed Jean-Michel Lukonde as Prime Minister. Maintaining public support for the Tshisekedi government will ultimately require the administration to deliver on the campaign slogan of “the people first.” The security situation continues to be a concern and the U.S. Embassy through its travel advisory (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/DemocraticRepublicoftheCongoDRC.html) keeps a list of areas where it does not recommend travel by U.S. citizens. Thousands of members of armed groups have been disarming and turning themselves in to the United Nations’ DRC peacekeeping operation (MONUSCO) and the GDRC since President Tshisekedi’s election, according to international observers, with inconsistent demobilization processes and high recidivism rates. International statistics indicate that over 140 small and medium sized armed groups and organized criminal groups continue to operate in 17 of the DRC’s 26 provinces, primarily in the east of the country. The foreign terrorist organization-designated ISIS-DRC (a.k.a the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) rebel group) in eastern DRC is one of the country’s most notorious and intractable armed groups and its members have shown no interest in demobilizing. ISIS-DRC has been spreading violence throughout the eastern part of DRC fat an increasing pace since 2014 and killed at least 840 people in 2020 President Tshisekedi is cognizant of the important role security plays in attracting foreign investment, and has encouraged the Congolese army to work with MONUSCO to eliminate armed groups. US citizens and interests are not being specifically targeted by armed groups but can easily fall victim to violence or kidnapping by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The Armed Conflict Location and Event Dataset tracks political violence in developing countries, including the DRC, http://www.acleddata.com/. Kivu Security Tracker (www.kivusecurity.org) is another database for information on attacks in eastern DRC. The Department of State continues to advise U.S. citizen travelers to review the Embassy’s Travel Advisory and country information page (https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-travel/International-Travel-Country-Information-Pages/DemocraticRepublicoftheCongoDRC.html) for the latest security information. Ethiopia 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment Ethiopia needs significant inflows of FDI to meet its ambitious growth goals. Over the past year, in an effort to attract more foreign investment, the government has passed a new investment law, acceded to the New York Convention on Arbitration, amended its six-decade old commercial code, and digitized commercial registration and business licensing processes. The government has also begun implementing the Public Private Partnership (PPP) proclamation, in an attempt to allow for private investment in the power generation and road construction sectors. The Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) has the mandate to promote and facilitate foreign investments in Ethiopia. To accomplish this task, the EIC is charged with 1) promoting the country’s investment opportunities to attract and retain investment; 2) issuing investment permits, business licenses, and construction permits; 3) issuing commercial registration certificates and renewals; 4) negotiating and signing bilateral investment agreements; 5) issuing work permits; and 6) registering technology transfer agreements. In addition, the EIC has the mandate to advise the government on policies to improve the investment climate and hold regular and structured public-private dialogues with investors and their associations. At the local level, regional investment agencies facilitate regional investment. On the 2020 World Bank Ease of Doing Business Index Ethiopia ranks 159 out of 190 countries, which is the exact same ranking it held in both 2018 and 2019. To improve the investment climate, attract more FDI, and tackle unemployment challenges, the Prime Minister’s Office formed a committee to systematically examine each indicator on the Doing Business Index and identify factors that inhibit the private sector. The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) works on voicing the concerns of U.S. businesses in Ethiopia. AmCham provides a mechanism for coordination among American companies and facilitates regular meetings with government officials to discuss issues that hinder operations in Ethiopia. The Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce also organizes a monthly business forum that enables the business community to discuss issues related to the investment climate with government officials. Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment Foreign and domestic private entities have the right to establish, acquire, own, and dispose of most forms of business enterprises. The new Investment Proclamation and associated regulations outline the areas of investment reserved for government and local investors. There is no private ownership of land in Ethiopia. All land is technically owned by the state but can be leased for up to 99 years. Small-scale rural landholders have indefinite use rights, but cannot lease out holdings for extended periods, except in the Amhara Region. The 2011 Urban Land Lease Proclamation allows the government to determine the value of land in transfers of leasehold rights, in an attempt to curb speculation by investors. A foreign investor intending to buy an existing private enterprise or shares in an existing enterprise needs to obtain prior approval from the EIC. While foreign investors have complained about inconsistent interpretation of the regulations governing investment registration (particularly relating to accounting for in-kind investments), they generally do not face undue screening of FDI, unfavorable tax treatment, denial of licenses, discriminatory import or export policies, or inequitable tariff and non-tariff barriers. Other Investment Policy Reviews Over the past three years, the government has not undertaken any third-party investment policy review by a multilateral or non-governmental organization. The government has worked closely with some international stakeholders, such as the International Finance Corporation, in its attempt to modernize and streamline its investment regulations. Business Facilitation The EIC has attempted to establish itself as a “one-stop shop” for foreign investors by acting as a centralized location where investors can obtain the visas, permits, and paperwork they need, thereby reducing the time and cost of investing and acquiring business licenses. The EIC has worked with international consultants to modernize its operations, and as part of its work plan has adopted a customer manager system to build lasting relationships and provide post-investment assistance to investors. Despite progress, the EIC readily admits that many bureaucratic barriers to investment remain. In particular, U.S. investors report that the EIC, as a federal organization, has little influence at regional and local levels. According to the 2020 World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Report, on average, it takes 32 days to start a business in Ethiopia. Currently, more than 95 percent of Ethiopia’s trade passes through the Port of Djibouti, with residual trade passing through the Somaliland Port of Berbera or Port Sudan. Ethiopia concluded an agreement in March of 2018 with the Somaliland Ports Authority and DP World to acquire a 19 percent stake in the joint venture developing the Port of Berbera. The agreement will help Ethiopia secure an additional logistical gateway for its increasing import and export trade. Following the July 2018 rapprochement with Eritrea, the Ethiopian government has the opportunity of accessing an alternative port at either Massawa or Assab. At present, however, land borders with Eritrea remain closed, and little progress is being made to operationalize alternative logistics corridors in Eritrea. The Government of Ethiopia is working to improve business facilitation services by making the licensing and registration of businesses easier and faster. In February of 2021, the Ministry of Trade and Industry launched an eTrade platform ( etrade.gov.et ) for business registration licensing to enable individuals to register their companies and acquire business licenses online. The amended commercial registration and licensing law eliminates the requirement to publicize business registrations in local newspapers, allows business registration without a physical address, and reduces some other paperwork burdens associated with business registration. U.S. companies can obtain detailed information for the registration of their business in Ethiopia from an online investment guide to Ethiopia: ( https://www.theiguides.org/public-docs/guides/ethiopia ) and the EIC’s website: ( http://www.investethiopia.gov.et/index.php/investment-process/starting-a-business.html ). Though the government is taking positive steps to socially empower women (approximately half of cabinet members are women), there is no special treatment provided to women who wish to engage in business. The full Doing Business Report is available here: http://www.doingbusiness.org/data/exploreeconomies/ethiopia Outward Investment There is no officially recorded outward investment by domestic investors from Ethiopia as citizens/local investors are not allowed to hold foreign accounts. 2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties Ethiopia is a member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) and it has bilateral investment and protection agreements with Algeria, Austria, China, Denmark, Egypt, Germany, Finland, France, Iran, Israel, Italy, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, Turkey and Yemen. Other bilateral investment agreements have been signed but are not in force with Belgium/Luxemburg, Brazil, Equatorial Guinea, India, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates. Ethiopia signed a protection of investment and property acquisition agreement with Djibouti. A Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations, which entered into force in 1953, governs economic and consular relations with the United States. There is no double taxation treaty between the United States and Ethiopia. Ethiopia has taxation treaties with fourteen countries, including Italy, Kuwait, Romania, Russia, Tunisia, Yemen, Israel, South Africa, Sudan, and the United Kingdom. 3. Legal Regime Transparency of the Regulatory System Ethiopia’s regulatory system is generally considered fair, though there are instances in which burdensome regulatory or licensing requirements have prevented the local sale of U.S. exports, particularly health-related products. Investment decisions can involve multiple government ministries, lengthening the registration and investment process. The Constitution is the highest law of the country. The parliament enacts proclamations, which are followed by regulations that are passed by the Council of Ministers and implementing directives that are passed by ministries or agencies. The government increasingly engages the public for feedback before passage of draft legislation through public meetings, and regulatory agencies request comments on proposed regulations from stakeholders. Ministries or regulatory agencies do neither impact assessments for proposed regulations nor ex-post reviews. Parties that are affected by an adopted regulation can request reconsideration or appeal to the relevant administrative agency or court. There is no requirement to periodically review regulations to determine whether they are still relevant or should be revised. All proclamations and regulations in Ethiopia are published in official gazettes and most of them are available online: http://www.hopr.gov.et/web/guest/122 and https://chilot.me/federal-laws/2/ Legal matters related to the federal government are entertained by Federal Courts, while state matters go to state courts. To ensure consistency of legal interpretation and to promote predictability of the courts, the Federal Supreme Court Cassation Division is empowered to give binding legal interpretation on all federal and state matters. Though there are no publicly listed companies in Ethiopia, all banks and insurance companies are obliged to adhere to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Regulations related to human health and environmental pollution are often enforced. In January of 2019, the Oromia Region’s Environment, Forest, and Climate Change Commission shut down three tanneries in the Oromia Region for what was said to be repeated environmental pollution offenses. The federal government also suspended the business license of MIDROC Gold Mining in May 2018 following weeks of protests by local communities who accused the company of causing health and environmental hazards in the Oromia Region. The Ethiopian Parliament in February of 2019 passed a bill entitled ‘Food and Medicine Administration Proclamation,’ which bans smoking in all indoor workplaces, public spaces, and means of public transport and prohibits alcohol promotion on broadcasting media. On April 7, 2020, Ethiopia published the Administrative Procedure Proclamation (APP) in the federal gazette, the final step for a law to come into force. The APP’s main aim is to allow ordinary citizens who seek administrative redress to file suits in federal courts against government institutions. Potential redress includes financial restitution. The APP’s passage will require government institutions to set up offices that will handle such complaints. Complainants are required to follow an administrative appeal process, and only after exhausting administrative remedies will a person be allowed to file a suit in federal court. Four government institutions are exempt from the APP: the Federal Attorney General’s Office; the Ethiopian Federal Police; the Ethiopian National Defense Force and the intelligence agencies. The enactment of the APP is widely viewed as a positive step in increasing confidence in the public sector and addressing the need for governmental institutions to adhere to the rule of law. Ethiopia is a member of UNCTAD’s international network of transparent investment procedures . Foreign and national investors can find detailed information from the investment commission’s website ( https://www.invest-ethiopia.com/ ) on administrative procedures applicable to investing in Ethiopia. The government released its five-year public finance administration strategic plan (2018 – 2022) in March of 2018, mapping out reforms in government revenue and expenditure forecasting, government accounts management, internal auditing, public procurement administration, public debt management, and public financial transparency and accountability. In support of this initiative, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) issued a directive on Public Financial Transparency and Accountability in October of 2018. The directive mandates that all public institutions report their budgetary performance and financial accounts in platforms that are accessible to the wider public in a timely manner. It also makes the MoF responsible for disseminating a regular and detailed physical and financial performance evaluation of large publicly funded projects. The directive further outlines a clear timeline for the publication of each major piece of budgetary information, such as the pre-budget macroeconomic and fiscal framework, the enacted budget, quarterly execution reports, annual execution reports, and the annual audit report. The government makes public its annual budget as well as the external and domestic debt position of the county on the MoF’s website ( https://www.mofed.gov.et/en/resources/bulletin/ ) International Regulatory Considerations In April of 2020 Ethiopia became a member of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA). The AfCFTA aims to create a single, continental market for goods and services, with free movement of businesspersons and investments. Ethiopia is also a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), a regional economic block, which has 21 member countries and has introduced a 10 percent tariff reduction on goods imported from member states. Ethiopia has not yet joined the COMESA free trade area, however. Ethiopia resumed its WTO accession process in 2018, which it originally began in 2003, but which later stagnated. Ethiopian standards have a national scope and applicability and some of them, particularly those related to human health and environmental protection, are mandatory. The Ethiopian Standards Agency is the national standards body of Ethiopia. Legal System and Judicial Independence Ethiopia has codified criminal and civil laws, including commercial and contractual law. According to the contractual law, a contract agreement is binding between contracting parties. Disputes between the parties can be taken to court. There are, however, no specialized courts for commercial law cases, though there are specialized benches at both the federal and state courts. While there have been allegations of executive branch interference in judiciary cases with political implications, there is no evidence of widespread interference in purely commercial disputes. The country has a procedural code for both civil and criminal court. Enforcement actions are appealable and there are at least three appeal processes from the lower courts to the Supreme Court. The Criminal Procedure Code follows the inquisitorial system of adjudication. Companies that operate businesses in Ethiopia assert that courts lack adequate experience and staffing, particularly with respect to commercial disputes. While property and contractual rights are recognized, judges often lack understanding of commercial matters, including bankruptcy and contractual disputes. In addition, cases often face extended scheduling delays. Contract enforcement remains weak, though Ethiopian courts will at times reject spurious litigation aimed at contesting legitimate tenders. In March of 2021 the parliament approved an amendment to the sixty-two-year-old commercial code. The revised legislation modernizes and simplifies business regulations, develops regulations for new technologies not covered in the prior version of the code, and seeks to implement greater transparency and accountability in commercial activities. Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment The Investment Proclamation 1180/2020 and Regulation 474/2020 are Ethiopia’s main legal regime related to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). These laws instituted the opening of new economic sectors to foreign investment, enumerated the requirements for FDI registration, and outlined the incentives that are available to investors. The investment law allows foreign investors to invest in any investment area except those that are clearly reserved for domestic investors. A few specified investment areas are possible for foreign investors only as part of a joint venture with domestic investors or the government. The Investment Proclamation has introduced an Investment Council, chaired by the Prime Minister, to accelerate implementation of the new law and to address coordination challenges investors face at the federal and regional levels. Further, the new law expanded the mandate of the EIC by allowing it to provide approvals to foreign investors proposing to buy existing enterprises. The EIC now also delivers “one stop shop” services by consolidating investor services provided by other ministries and agencies. Still, the EIC delegates licensing of investments in some areas: air transport services (the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority), energy generation and transmission (the Ethiopian Energy Authority), and telecommunication services (the Ethiopian Communications Authority). The EIC’s website ( https://www.invest-ethiopia.com/ ) provides information on the government’s policy and priorities, registration processes, and regulatory details. In addition, the Business Negarit website ( http://businessnegarit.com/a/resources1/ ) provides relevant laws, rules, procedures, and reporting requirements for investors. Competition and Antitrust Laws Ethiopia’s Trade Practice and Consumers Protection Authority (TPCPA), operating under the Ministry of Trade and Industry, is tasked with promoting a competitive business environment by regulating anti-competitive, unethical, and unfair trade practices to enhance economic efficiency and social welfare. It has an administrative tribunal with a jurisdiction on matters pertaining to market competition and consumer protection. The authority also annually entertains many cases associated with consumer protection and unfair trade practices. The EIC reviews investment transactions for compliance with FDI requirements and restrictions as outlined by the Investment Proclamation. Nonetheless, companies have complained that SOEs receive favorable treatment in the government tender process. Expropriation and Compensation Per the 2020 Investment Proclamation, no investment by a domestic or foreign investor or enterprise can be expropriated or nationalized, wholly or partially, except when required by public interest in compliance with the law and provided adequate compensatory payment. The former Derg military regime nationalized many properties in the 1970s. The current government’s position is that property seized lawfully by the Derg (by court order or government proclamation published in the official gazette) remains the property of the state. In most cases, property seized by oral order or other informal means is gradually being returned to the rightful owners or their heirs through a lengthy bureaucratic process. Claimants are required to pay for improvements made by the government during the time it controlled the property. The Public Enterprises Holding and Administration Agency stopped accepting requests from owners for return of expropriated properties in July of 2008. According to local and foreign businesses operating in the Oromia Region, there have been a number of incidents threatening investors in that region. Various pretexts have been used to close legitimate operations. False charges have been filed with regional courts, property has been confiscated, and bank accounts have been frozen, all in the name of “returning the land” to the “rightful owners” or “creating job opportunities” for the youth. Regional officials, however, deny any systematic attack on investors and have repeatedly provided assurance that all legitimate investors will be protected. Meanwhile, some investors who have invested heavily in government and community relations and actively engaged local and regional officials have prospered. The experience of investors is uneven and clear trends are not evident. Dispute Settlement ICSID Convention and New York Convention Since 1965, Ethiopia has been a non-signatory member state to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) Convention. In November 2020, Ethiopia acceded to the UN Convention on The Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (commonly known as the New York Convention). Investor-State Dispute Settlement The constitution and the investment law both guarantee the right of any investor to lodge complaints related to their investment with the appropriate investment agency. If the investor has a grievance against a legal or regulatory decision, they can appeal to the investment board or to the respective regional agency, as appropriate. According to the new investment law, the investment dispute between the state and foreign investor can be resolved either through the courts or via arbitration, with the precondition of government agreement for resolution via the latter. Additionally, a dispute that arises between a foreign investor and the state may be settled based on the relevant bilateral investment treaty. Due to an overloaded court system, dispute resolution can last for years. According to the 2020 World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report, it takes on average 530 days to enforce contracts through the courts. International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts Arbitration has become a widely used means of dispute settlement among the business community as the Ethiopian civil code recognizes Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanisms as a means of dispute resolution. The Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce has an Arbitration Center to assist with arbitration. Following Ethiopia’s accession to the New York Convention, local courts now must automatically recognize and enforce foreign arbitral awards from a New York Convention member state country. There are no publicly available statistics that indicate a bias in the courts towards state-owned enterprises (SOEs) as pertains to investment/commercial disputes. Bankruptcy Regulations The Ethiopian Commercial Code (Book V) outlines bankruptcy provisions and proceedings and establishes a court system that has jurisdiction over bankruptcy proceedings. The primary purpose of the law is to protect creditors, equity shareholders, and other contractors. Bankruptcy is not criminalized. In practice, there is limited application of bankruptcy procedures due to a lack of knowledge on the part of the private sector. According to the 2020 World Bank Doing Business Report, Ethiopia stands at 149 in the ranking of 190 economies with respect to resolving insolvency. Ethiopia’s score on the strength of insolvency framework index is 5.0. (Note: The index ranges from zero to 16, with higher values indicating insolvency legislation that is better designed for rehabilitating viable firms and liquidating nonviable ones.) 5. Protection of Property Rights Real Property The constitution recognizes and protects ownership of private property, however all land in Ethiopia belongs to “the people” and is administered by the government. Private ownership does not exist, but land-use rights have been registered in most populated areas. As land is public property, it cannot be mortgaged. Confusion with respect to the registration of urban land-use rights, particularly in Addis Ababa, is common. Allegations of corruption in the allocation of urban land to private investors by government agencies are a major source of popular discontent. The government retains the right to expropriate land for the common good, which it defines as including expropriation for commercial farms, industrial zones, and infrastructure development. While the government claims to allocate only sparsely settled or empty land to investors, some people have been resettled. In particular, traditional grazing land has often been defined as empty and expropriated, leading to resentment, protests, and in some cases, conflict. In addition, leasehold regulations vary in form and practice by region. Successful investors in Ethiopia conduct thorough due diligence on land titles at both regional and federal levels, and conduct consultations with local communities regarding the proposed use of the land before investing. We encourage potential investors to ensure their needs are communicated clearly to the host government. It is important for investors to understand who had land-use rights preceding them, and to research the attitude of local communities to an investor’s use of that land, particularly in the region of Oromia, where conflict between international investors and local communities has occurred. The 2020 World Bank Doing Business Report ranked Ethiopia 142 out of 190 economies in registering property, as it takes on average 52 days to register property. Intellectual Property Rights The Ethiopian Intellectual Property Office (EIPO) oversees intellectual property rights (IPR) issues. Ethiopia is not yet a signatory to a number of major IPR treaties, such as the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty, the Berne Convention for Literary and Artistic Works, the Madrid System for the International Registration of Marks, or the Patent Cooperation Treaty. In 2020 Ethiopia ratified the Marrakesh Treaty to facilitate access to published works for persons who are blind, visually impaired, or otherwise print disabled. The government has expressed its intention to accede to the Berne Convention, the Paris Convention, and the Madrid Protocol. Because Ethiopia’s accession to the WTO is incomplete, it is not a party to the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement. EIPO is primarily tasked with protecting Ethiopian patents and copyrights and fighting software piracy. Historically, however, the EIPO has struggled with a lack of qualified staff and small budgets; further, the institution does not have law enforcement authority. Abuse of U.S. trademarks is rampant, particularly in the hospitality and retail sectors. The government does not publicly track counterfeit goods seizures, and no estimates are available. Ethiopia is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or Notorious Markets List. EIPO contact and office information is available at http://www.eipo.gov.et/ For additional information about the national law and for a local WIPO point of contact, please see WIPO’s country profile at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ . Embassy POC: Economic Officer, USEmbassyPolEconExternal@state.gov 10. Political and Security Environment Ethnic conflict—often sparked by historical grievances or resource competition, including land disputes—has resulted in varying levels of violence across Ethiopia. In September of 2020, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) released a report concluding that there were more than 1.8 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the country. IOM concluded that the primary cause of displacements was conflict, which resulted in the displacement of 1,233,557 persons. The second highest cause was drought, which displaced an additional 351,062 persons, followed by seasonal floods and flash flooding. Most significantly, in early November of 2020, a conflict broke out between a regional political party in the Tigray Region and the federal government. The conflict quickly enlarged, with Eritrean troops present in parts of Tigray Region, Amhara Region forces controlling much of Western Tigray, and clashes between the Ethiopian and Sudanese governments over a long-disputed border area. The conflict in Tigray has led to countless deaths, widespread displacements, extensive destruction of infrastructure, allegations of widespread gross human rights violations and the use of gender violence as a weapon of war, a vast reduction in public services, and widespread hunger. As of the present, conflict continues in Tigray, and the aftereffects from the violence will likely reverberate for years. Insecurity, often driven by ethnic tensions, persists in many other areas, notably in Gedeo Zone, West Guji, and other areas of southern and western Oromia; in eastern parts of Southern Nations, Nationalities, and People’s Region; and in the Hararges on the border of the Somali Region. In the four Wellega Zones in western Oromia, the Oromo Liberation Army-Shane and other unidentified armed groups continue to attack public and local government officials; this violence occasionally spills over into other parts of Oromia. Regional security forces and the Ethiopian National Defense Forces (ENDF) are actively combatting these groups. In early July of 2020, the assassination of a popular Oromo singer and activist, Hachualu Hundesa, resulted in widespread violence in the Oromia Region and Addis Ababa that saw over 150 dead and thousands arrested. In the wake of the violence the federal government shut down internet access in the country for a period of several weeks. In far western Ethiopia, persistent ethnic violence in the Metekel Zone of Benishangul-Gumuz Region led the ENDF to establish a “command post” presence there in September of 2020 in an effort to stem communal attacks. Despite the military’s presence, clashes worsened in early 2021, leaving hundreds dead and hundreds of thousands displaced. Under PM Abiy’s administration, political space in Ethiopia has opened significantly. Constitutional rights, including freedoms of assembly and expression, are now generally supported at the level of the federal government, though the protection of these rights remains uneven, especially at regional and local levels. Part of Abiy’s opening of political space led to the release of political prisoners in 2018, though recently there have been some reports of short-term detentions of opposition political leaders. Opposition parties usually operate freely, although authorities have employed politically motivated procedural roadblocks to hinder opposition parties’ efforts to hold meetings or other party activities. The space for media and civil society groups has become significantly more free following reforms instituted by PM Abiy. Still, journalism in the country remains undeveloped, social media is often rife with unfounded rumors, and government officials occasionally react with heavy-handedness, especially to news they feel might spur social unrest, resulting in self-censorship. Civil society reforms have spurred an expansion of the sector, though many civil society groups continue to struggle with capacity and resource issues. The parliament has set June 5, 2021 as the date for the next national and regional parliamentary elections; they were originally scheduled for May of 2020 but were delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new administration has also increased regional autonomy. Successful American investors tell us that understanding the different business climates across the regions—there are different regional taxation regimes, unique ethnic conflicts, varying levels of reception towards profit-making companies, and contrasting approaches to policing and security issues—is key to successfully investing in Ethiopia. In 2020, Ethiopia instituted two State of Emergencies (SOE). The first SOE was declared between April 10 and September 5 as a measure against the spread of COVID-19. The SOE enforced measures such as the discontinuation of meetings involving more than four people; closure of entertainment and sports centers; requirements that restaurants distance tables and seating; and limitations on the number of passengers in public transportation vehicles. The second State of Emergency, which was limited in scope to Tigray Region, was declared on November 4 following the outbreak of conflict there. This SOE provides the central government the power to suspend some political rights in a stated effort to maintain sovereignty and peace in Tigray. Kenya 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment Kenya has enjoyed a steadily improving environment for FDI. Foreign investors seeking to establish a presence in Kenya generally receive the same treatment as local investors, and multinational companies make up a large percentage of Kenya’s industrial sector. The government’s export promotion programs do not distinguish between goods produced by local or foreign-owned firms. The primary regulations governing FDI are found in the Investment Promotion Act (2004). Other important documents that provide the legal framework for FDI include the 2010 Constitution of Kenya, the Companies Ordinance, the Private Public Partnership Act (2013), the Foreign Investment Protection Act (1990), and the Companies Act (2015). GOK membership in the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) provides an opportunity to insure FDI against non-commercial risk. In November 2019, the Kenya Investment Authority (KenInvest), the country’s official investment promotion agency, launched the Kenya Investment Policy (KIP) and the County Investment Handbook (CIH) ( http://www.invest.go.ke/publications/ ) which aim to increase foreign direct investment in the country. The KIP intends to guide laws being drafted to promote and facilitate investments in Kenya. Investment Promotion Agency KenInvest’s ( http://www.invest.go.ke/ ) mandate is to promote and facilitate investment by helping investors understand and navigate local Kenya’s bureaucracy and regulations. KenInvest helps investors obtain necessary licenses and developed eRegulations, an online database, to provide businesses with user-friendly access to Kenya’s investment-related regulations and procedures ( https://eregulations.invest.go.ke/?l=en ). KenInvest prioritizes investment retention and maintains an ongoing dialogue with investors. All proposed legislation must pass through a period of public consultation, which includes an opportunity for investors to offer feedback. Private sector representatives can serve as board members on Kenya’s state-owned enterprises. Since 2013, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance (KEPSA), the country’s primary alliance of private sector business associations, has had bi-annual round table meetings with President Kenyatta and his cabinet. President Kenyatta also chairs a cabinet-level committee focused on improving the business environment. The American Chamber of Commerce has also increasingly engaged the GOK on issues regarding Kenya’s business environment. Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment The government provides the right for foreign and domestic private entities to establish and own business enterprises and engage in all forms of remunerative activity. To encourage foreign investment, in 2015, the GOK repealed regulations that imposed a 75 percent foreign ownership limit for firms listed on the Nairobi Securities Exchange, allowing such firms to be 100 percent foreign owned. However, also in 2015, the government established regulations requiring Kenyan ownership of at least 15 percent of the share capital of derivative exchanges, through which derivatives, such as options and futures, can be traded. Kenya’s National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) policy guidelines, published in August 2020, increased the requirement for Kenyan ownership in foreign ICT companies from 20 to 30 percent, and broadened its applicability within the telecommunications, postal, courier, and broadcasting industries. Affected companies have 3 years to comply with the new requirement. The Mining Act (2016) restricts foreign participation in the mining sector. The Mining Act reserves mineral acquisition rights to Kenyan companies and requires 60 percent Kenyan ownership of mineral dealerships and artisanal mining companies. The Private Security Regulations Act (2016) restricts foreign participation in the private security sector by requiring at least 25 percent Kenyan ownership of private security firms. The National Construction Authority Act (2011) and the 2014 National Construction Authority regulations impose local content restrictions on “foreign contractors,” defined as companies incorporated outside Kenya or with more than 50 percent ownership by non-Kenyan citizens. The act requires foreign contractors enter into subcontracts or joint ventures assuring that at least 30 percent of the contract work is done by local firms and locally unavailable skills transferred to a local person. The Kenya Insurance Act (2010) limits foreign capital investment in insurance companies to two-thirds, with no single person holding more than a 25 percent ownership share. Other Investment Policy Reviews In 2019, the World Trade Organization conducted a trade policy review for the East Africa Community (EAC), of which Kenya is a member ( https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp484_e.htm ). Business Facilitation In 2011, the GOK established KenTrade to address trading partners’ concerns regarding the complexity of trade regulations and procedures. KenTrade’s mandate is to facilitate cross-border trade and to implement the National Electronic Single Window System. In 2017, KenTrade launched InfoTrade Kenya (infotrade.gov.ke), which provides a host of investment products and services to prospective investors. The site documents the process of exporting and importing by product, by steps, by paperwork, and by individuals, including contact information for officials responsible for relevant permits or approvals. In February 2019, Kenya implemented a new Integrated Customs Management System (iCMS) that includes automated valuation benchmarking, release of green-channel cargo, importer validation and declaration, and linkage with iTax. The iCMS enables customs officers to efficiently manage revenue and security related risks for imports, exports and goods on transit and transshipment. The Movable Property Security Rights Bill (2017) enhanced the ability of individuals to secure financing through movable assets, including using intellectual property rights as collateral. The Nairobi International Financial Centre (NIFC) Act (2017) seeks to provide a legal framework to facilitate and support the development of an efficient and competitive financial services sector in Kenya. The act created the Nairobi International Financial Centre Authority to establish and maintain an efficient financial services sector to attract and retain FID. The Kenya Trade Remedies Act (2017) provides the legal and institutional framework for Kenya’s application of trade remedies consistent with World Trade Organization (WTO) law, which requires a domestic institution to receive complaints and undertake investigations in line with WTO Agreements. To date, however, Kenya has implemented only 7.5 percent of its commitments under the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, which it ratified in 2015. In 2020, Kenya launched the Kenya Trade Remedies Agency to investigate and enforce anti-dumping, countervailing duty, and trade safeguards, to protect domestic industries from unfair trade practices. The Companies (Amendment) Act (2017) clarified ambiguities in the original act and ensures compliance with global trends and best practices. The act amended provisions on the extent of directors’ liabilities and disclosures and strengthens investor protections. The amendment eliminated the requirements for small enterprises to hire secretaries, have lawyers register their firms, and to hold annual general meetings, reducing regulatory compliance and operational costs. The Business Registration Services (BRS) Act (2015) established the Business Registration Service, a state corporation, to ensure effective administration of laws related to the incorporation, registration, operation, and management, of companies, partnerships, and firms. The BRS also devolves certain business registration services to county governments, such as registration of business names and promoting local business ideas/legal entities- reducing registration costs. The Companies Act (2015) covers the registration and management of both public and private corporations. In 2014, the GOK established a Business Environment Delivery Unit to address investors’ concerns. The unit focuses on reducing the bureaucratic steps required to establish and do business. Its website ( http://www.businesslicense.or.ke/ ) offers online business registration and provides detailed information regarding business licenses and permits, including requirements, fees, application forms, and contact details for the respective regulatory agencies. In 2013, the GOK initiated the Access to Government Procurement Opportunities program, requiring all public procurement entities to set aside a minimum of 30 percent of their annual procurement spending facilitate the participation of youth, women, and persons with disabilities ( https://agpo.go.ke/ ). Kenya’s iGuide, an investment guide to Kenya ( http://www.theiguides.org/public-docs/guides/kenya/about# , developed by UNCTAD and the International Chamber of Commerce, provides investors with up-to-date information on business costs, licensing requirements, opportunities, and conditions in developing countries. Kenya is a member of UNCTAD’s international network of transparent investment procedures. Outward Investment The GOK does not promote or incentivize outward investment. Despite this, Kenya is evolving into an outward investor in tourism, manufacturing, retail, finance, education, and media. Kenya’s outward investment has primarily been in the EAC, due to the preferential access afforded to member countries, and in a select few central African countries. The EAC allows free movement of capital among its six member states – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. 3. Legal Regime Transparency of the Regulatory System Kenya’s regulatory system is relatively transparent and continues to improve. Proposed laws and regulations pertaining to business and investment are published in draft form for public input and stakeholder deliberation before their passage into law ( http://www.kenyalaw.org/ ; http://www.parliament.go.ke/the-national-assembly/house-business/bills-tracker ). Kenya’s business registration and licensing systems are fully digitized and transparent while computerization of other government processes, aimed at increasing transparency and efficiency, and reducing corruption, is ongoing. The 2010 Kenyan Constitution requires government to incorporate public participation before officials and agencies make certain decisions. The draft Public Participation Bill (2019) aims to provide the general framework for such public participation. The Ministry of Devolution has produced a guide for counties on how to carry out public participation; many counties have enacted their own laws on public participation. The Environmental Management and Coordination Act (1999) incorporates the principles of sustainable development, including public participation in environmental management. The Public Finance Management Act mandates public participation in the budget cycle. The Land Act, Water Act, and Fair Administrative Action Act (2015) also include provisions providing for public participation in agency actions. Kenya also has regulations to promote inclusion and fair competition when applying for tenders. Executive Order No. 2 of 2018 emphasizes publication of all procurement information including tender notices, contracts awarded, name of suppliers and their directors. The Public Procurement Regulatory Authority publishes this information on the Public Procurement Information Portal, enhancing transparency and accountability (https://www.tenders.go.ke/website). However, the directive is yet to be fully implemented as not all state agencies provide their tender details to the portal. Many GOK laws grant significant discretionary and approval powers to government agency administrators, which can create uncertainty among investors. While some government agencies have amended laws or published clear guidelines for decision-making criteria, others have lagged in making their transactions transparent. Work permit processing remains a problem, with overlapping and sometimes contradictory regulations. American companies have complained about delays and non-issuance of permits that appear compliant with known regulations. International Regulatory Considerations Kenya is a member of the EAC, and generally applies EAC policies to trade and investment. Kenya operates under the EAC Custom Union Act (2004) and decisions regarding tariffs on imports from non-EAC countries are made by the EAC Secretariat. The U.S. government engages with Kenya on trade and investment issues bilaterally and through the U.S.-EAC Trade and Investment Partnership. Kenya also is a member of COMESA and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD). According to the Africa Regional Integration Index Report 2019, Kenya is the second most integrated country in Africa and a leader in regional integration policies within the EAC and COMESA regional blocs, with strong performance on regional infrastructure, productive integration, free movement of people, and financial and macro-economic integration. The GOK maintains a Department of EAC Integration under the Ministry of East Africa and Regional Development. Kenya generally adheres to international regulatory standards. It is a member of the WTO and provides notification of draft technical regulations to the Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). Kenya maintains a TBT National Enquiry Point at http://notifyke.kebs.org . Additional information on Kenya’s WTO participation can be found at https://www.wto.org/english/thewto_e/countries_e/kenya_e.htm . Accounting, legal, and regulatory procedures are transparent and consistent with international norms. Publicly listed companies adhere to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) that have been developed and issued in the public interest by the International Accounting Standards Board. The board is an independent, non-profit organization that is the standard-setting body of the IFRS Foundation. Kenya is a member of UNCTAD’s international network of transparent investment procedures. Legal System and Judicial Independence Kenya’s legal system is based on English Common Law, and its constitution establishes an independent judiciary with a Supreme Court, Court of Appeal, Constitutional Court, High Court, and Environment and Land Court. Subordinate courts include: Magistrates, Kadhis (Muslim succession and inheritance), Courts Martial, the Employment and Labor Relations Court, and the Milimani Commercial Courts – the latter two have jurisdiction over economic and commercial matters. In 2016, Kenya’s judiciary instituted the Anti-Corruption and Economic Crimes Courts, focused on corruption and economic crimes. There is no systematic executive or other interference in the court system that affects foreign investors, however, the courts often face allegations of corruption, as well as political manipulation, in the form of unjustified budget cuts, which significantly impact the judiciary’s ability to fulfill its mandate. Delayed confirmation of judges nominated by the Judicial Service Commission result in an understaffed judiciary and prolonged delays in cases coming to trial and receiving judgments. The COVID-19 pandemic has also increased case backlogs, as courts reduced operations and turned to virtual hearings, particularly for non-urgent cases. Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment The Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act (2012) provides for the enforcement of judgments given in other countries that accord reciprocal treatment to judgments given in Kenya. Kenya has entered into reciprocal enforcement agreements with Australia, the United Kingdom, Malawi, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Seychelles. Outside of such an agreement, a foreign judgment is not enforceable in Kenyan courts except by filing a suit on the judgment. Foreign advocates may practice as an advocate in Kenya for the purposes of a specified suit or matter if appointed to do so by the Attorney General. However, foreign advocates are not permitted to practice in Kenya unless they have paid to the Registrar of the High Court of Kenya the prescribed admission fee. Additionally, they are not permitted to practice unless a Kenyan advocate instructs and accompanies them to court. The regulations or enforcement actions are appealable and are adjudicated in the national court system. The 2018 amendment to the Anti-Counterfeit Authority (ACA) Act expanded its scope to include protection of intellectual property rights, including those not registered in Kenya. The amended law empowered ACA inspectors to investigate and seize monetary gains from counterfeit goods. The 2019 amendment to the 2001 Copyright Act (established when the country had less than one percent internet penetration), formed the independent Copyright Tribunal, ratified the Marrakesh Treaty, recognized artificial intelligence generated works, established protections for internet service providers related to digital advertising, developed a register of copyrighted works by Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO), and protected digital rights through procedures for take down notices. Competition and Antitrust Laws The Competition Act of 2010 created the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK). The law was amended in 2019 to clarify the law with regard to abuse of buyer power and empower the CAK to investigate alleged abuses of buyer power. The competition law prohibits restrictive trade practices, abuse of dominant position, and abuse of buyer power, and it grants the CAK the authority to review mergers and acquisitions and investigate and take action against unwarranted concentrations of economic power. All mergers and acquisitions require the CAK’s authorization before they are finalized. The CAK also investigates and enforces consumer-protection related issues. In 2014, the CAK established a KES one million (approximately USD 10,000) filing fee for mergers and acquisitions valued between one and KES 50 billion (up to approximately USD 500 million). The CAK charges KES two million (approximately USD 20,000) for larger transactions. Company acquisitions are possible if the share buy-out is more than 90 percent, although such transactions seldom occur in practice. Expropriation and Compensation The constitution guarantees protection from expropriation, except in cases of eminent domain or security concerns, and all cases are subject to the payment of prompt and fair compensation. The Land Acquisition Act (2010) governs due process and compensation related to eminent domain land acquisitions; however, land rights remain contentious and resolving land disputes is often a lengthy process. However, there are cases where government measures could be deemed indirect expropriation that may impact foreign investment. Some companies reported instances whereby foreign investors faced uncertainty regarding lease renewals because county governments were attempting to confiscate some or all of the project property. Dispute Settlement ICSID Convention and New York Convention Kenya is a member of the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) Convention, and the 1958 New York Convention on the Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. International companies may opt to seek international well-established dispute resolution at the ICSID. Regarding the arbitration of property issues, the Foreign Investments Protection Act (2014) cites Article 75 of Kenya’s constitution, which provides that “[e]very person having an interest or right in or over property which is compulsorily taken possession of or whose interest in or right over any property is compulsorily acquired shall have a right of direct access to the High Court.” In 2020, Kenya prevailed in an ICSID international arbitration case against a U.S./Canadian geothermal company, over a geothermal exploration license revocation dispute. Investor-State Dispute Settlement There have been very few investment disputes involving U.S. and international companies in Kenya. Commercial disputes, including those involving government tenders, are more common. The National Land Commission (NLC) settles land related disputes; the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board settles procurement and tender related disputes; and the Tax Appeals Tribunal settles tax disputes. However, private companies have criticized these institutions as having weak institutional capacity, inadequate transparency, and slow to resolve disputes. Due to the resources and time required to settle a dispute through the Kenyan courts, parties often prefer to seek alternative dispute resolution options. International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts The government does accept binding international arbitration of investment disputes with foreign investors. The Kenyan Arbitration Act (1995) as amended in 2010 is based on the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law. Legislation introduced in 2013 established the Nairobi Centre for International Arbitration (NCIA), which serves as an independent, non- profit international organization for commercial arbitration and may offer a quicker alternative than the court system. In 2014, the Kenya Revenue Authority launched an Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanism aimed at providing taxpayers with an alternative, fast-track avenue for resolving tax disputes. Bankruptcy Regulations The Insolvency Act (2015) modernized the legal framework for bankruptcies. Its provisions generally correspond to those of the United Nations’ Model Law on Cross Border Insolvency. The act promotes fair and efficient administration of cross-border insolvencies to protect the interests of all creditors and other interested persons, including the debtor. The act repeals the Bankruptcy Act (2012) and updates the legal structure relating to insolvency of natural persons, incorporated, and unincorporated bodies. Section 720 of the Insolvency Act (2015) grants the force of law in Kenya to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law model law on cross border insolvency. Creditors’ rights are comparable to those in other common law countries, and monetary judgments are typically made in KES. The Insolvency Act (2015) increased the rights of borrowers and prioritizes the revival of distressed firms. The law states that a debtor will automatically be discharged from debt after three years. Bankruptcy is not criminalized in Kenya. The World Bank Group’s 2020 Doing Business report ranked Kenya 50 out of 190 countries in the “resolving insolvency” category, an improvement of six spots compared to 2019. 5. Protection of Property Rights Real Property The constitution prohibits foreigners or foreign owned firms from owning freehold interest in land in Kenya. However, unless classified as agricultural, there are no restrictions on foreign-owned companies leasing land or real estate. The cumbersome and opaque process to acquire land raises concerns about security of title, particularly given past abuses related to the distribution and redistribution of public land. The Land (Extension and Renewal of Leases) Regulations (2017) prohibited automatic lease renewals and tied renewals to the economic output of the land, requiring renewals to be beneficial to the economy. If legally purchased property remains unoccupied, the property ownership can revert to other occupiers, including squatters. The constitution, and subsequent land legislation, created the National Land Commission (NLC), an independent government body mandated to review historical land injustices and provide oversight of government land policy and management. The creation of the NLC also introduced coordination and jurisdictional confusion between the NLC and the Ministry of Lands. In 2015, President Kenyatta commissioned the National Titling Center and promised to significantly increase the number of title deeds. From 2013 to 2018, an additional 4.5 million title deeds have been issued, however 70 percent of land in Kenya remains untitled. Due to corruption at the NLC, land grabbing, enabled by the issuance of multiple title registrations, remains prevalent. Ownership of property legally purchased but unoccupied can revert to other parties. Mortgages and liens exist in Kenya, but the recording system is unreliable – Kenya has only about 27,993 recorded mortgages as of 2019 in a country of 47.6 million people – and there are complaints that property rights and interests are seldom enforced. The legal infrastructure around land ownership and registration has changed in recent years, and land issues have delayed several major infrastructure projects. The 2010 Kenyan Constitution required all existing land leases to convert from 999 years to 99 years, giving the state the power to review leasehold land at the expiry of the 99 years, deny lease renewal, or confiscate the land if it determines the land had not been used productively. In 2010, the constitution also converted foreign-owned freehold interests into 99-year leases at a nominal “peppercorn rate” sufficient to satisfy the requirements for the creation of a legal contract. However, the implementation of this amendment remains somewhat ambiguous. In July 2020, the Ministry of Lands and Physical planning released draft electronic land registration regulations to guide land transactions. Intellectual Property Rights The major intellectual property enforcement issues in Kenya related to counterfeit products are corruption, lack of enforcement of penalties, insufficient investigations, and seizures of counterfeit goods, limited cooperation between the private sector and law enforcement agencies, and reluctance of brand owners to file a complaint with the Anti-Counterfeit Agency (ACA). The prevalence of “gray market” products – genuine products that enter the country illegally without paying import duties – also presents a challenge, especially in the mobile phone and computer sectors. Copyright piracy and the use of unlicensed software are also common. However, reflecting the improvement in Kenya’s legal framework and enforcement mechanisms for intellectual property rights protections, the 2020 International Property Rights Index, which assess intellectual and physical property rights, increased Kenya’s score from 4.3 in 2010 to 5.0, out of a possible 10, in 2020. The Presidential Task Force on Parastatal Reforms (2013) proposed that the three intellectual property agencies – the Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI), the KECOBO and the Anti-Counterfeit Authority (ACA) – be merged into one government-owned entity, the Intellectual Property Office of Kenya. A task force on the merger, comprising staff from KIPI, ACA, KECOBO, and the Ministry of Industrialization, Trade and Enterprise Development is drafting the instruments of the merger, including consolidating intellectual property laws, and updating the legal framework and processes. To combat the import of counterfeits, the Ministry of Industrialization and the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) decreed in 2009 that all locally manufactured goods must have a KEBS import standardization mark (ISM). Several categories of imported goods, specifically food products, electronics, and medicines, must have an ISM. Under this program, U.S. consumer-ready products may enter Kenya without altering the U.S. label, but must also have an ISM. Once the product qualifies for Confirmation of Conformity, KEBS issues the ISMs for free. KEBS and the Anti-Counterfeit Agency conduct random seizures of counterfeit imports, but do not maintain a clear database of their seizures. Kenya is not included on the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or the Notorious Markets List. For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local intellectual property offices, please see the World Intellectual Property Organization’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ . 10. Political and Security Environment Kenya’s 2017 national election was marred by violence, which claimed the lives of nearly 100 Kenyans, a contentious political atmosphere, which pitted the ruling Jubilee Party against the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA), as well as political interference and attacks on key institutions by both sides. In November 2017, the Kenyan Supreme Court unanimously upheld the October 2017 repeat presidential election results and President Uhuru Kenyatta’s win in an election boycotted by NASA leader Raila Odinga. In March 2018, President Kenyatta and Odinga publicly shook hands and pledged to work together to heal the political, social, and economic divides highlighted by the election. In November 2020, the Building Bridges Initiative, established by President Kenyatta in May 2018 as part of his pledge to work with Odinga, issued its final report recommending reforms to address nine areas: lack of a national ethos; responsibilities and rights of citizenship; ethnic antagonism and competition; divisive elections; inclusivity; shared prosperity; corruption; devolution; and safety and security. The report included a constitutional amendment bill that may be considered in a national referendum in 2021. The United States’ Travel Advisory for Kenya advises U.S. citizens to exercise increased caution due to the threat of crime and terrorism, and not to travel to counties bordering Somalia and to certain coastal areas due to terrorism. Due to the high risk of crime, it is common for private businesses and residences to have 24-hour guard services and well-fortified property perimeters. Instability in Somalia has heightened concerns of terrorist attacks, leading businesses and public institutions nationwide to increase their security measures. Tensions flare occasionally within and between ethnic communities. Regional conflict, most notably in Ethiopia, Somalia, and South Sudan, sometimes have spill-over effects in Kenya. There could be an increase in refugees entering Kenya due to drought and instability in neighboring countries, adding to the already large refugee population in the country. Kenya and its neighbors are working together to mitigate threats of terrorism and insecurity through African-led initiatives such as the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and the nascent Eastern African Standby Force (EASF). Despite attacks against Kenyan forces in Kenya and Somalia, the GOK has maintained its commitment to promoting peace and stability in Somalia. Niger 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment The government of Niger is committed to attracting FDI and has repeatedly pledged to take whatever steps necessary to encourage the development of private sector and increase trade. The country offers numerous investment opportunities, particularly in agriculture, livestock, energy, telecommunication, industry, infrastructure, hydrocarbons, services and mining. In the past several years, new investor codes have been implemented (the most recent being in 2014), Public-Private Partnership law was adopted in 2018 and implemented since then, transparency has improved, and customs and taxation procedures have been simplified. There are no laws that specifically discriminate against foreign and/or U.S. investors. The government of Niger has demonstrated a willingness to negotiate with prospective foreign investors on matters of taxation and customs. The Investment Code adopted in 2014 guarantees the reception and protection of foreign direct investment, as well as tax advantages available for investment projects. The Investment Code allows tax exemptions for a certain period and according to the location and amount of the projects to be negotiated on a case-by-case basis with the Ministry of Commerce. The code guarantees fair treatment of investors regardless of their origin. The code also offers tax incentives for sectors that the government deems to be priorities and strategic, including energy production, agriculture, fishing, social housing, health, education, crafts, hotels, transportation and the agro-food industry. The code allows free transfer of profits and free convertibility of currencies. The Public-Private Partnership law adopted in 2018 and implemented since then gives projects of the public private partnership type for their operations in the design and /or implementation phase, total exemption from duties and taxes collected by the State, including Value Added Tax (VAT), on the provision of services, works and services directly contributing to the realization of the project. However, parts and spare parts, raw materials intended for projects do not benefit from a duty exemption and customs taxes only when not available at Niger. In the design and /or production phase, private public partnership type benefit from free registration agreements and all acts entered into by the contracting authority and the contracting partner within the framework of the project. There are no laws or practices that discriminate against foreign investors including U.S. investors. The High Council for Investment of Niger (HCIN), created in 2017, reports directly to the President of the Republic. HCIN is the platform of public-private dialogue with a view to increasing Foreign Direct Investments, improving Niger’s business environment, and defining private sector priorities to possible investors. In 2018, Niger’s government reviewed the HCIN’s mission as related to international best practices on attracting FDI. Accordingly, the GoN added by Presidential Decree a Nigerien Agency for the Promotion of Private Investment and Strategic Projects (ANPIPS). This new agency reports to the HCIN and implements the lead agencies policy initiatives. The government put in place an Institutional Framework for Improving Business Climate Indicators office (Dispositif Institutionnel d’Amélioration et de Suivi du Climat des Affaires), within the Ministry of Commerce, focused on improving business climate indicators. Its goal is to create a framework that permits the implementation of sustainable reforms. Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment Foreign and domestic private entities have the right to establish and own business enterprises. Energy, mineral resources, and national security related sectors restrict foreign ownership and control; otherwise, there are no limitations on ownership or control. In the extractive industries, any company to which the GoN grants a mining permit must give the GoN a minimum 10 percent share of the company. This law applies to both foreign and domestic operations. The GoN also reserves the right to require companies exploiting mineral resources to give the GoN up to a 33 percent stake in their Nigerien operations. Although Ministry of Planning authorization is required, foreign ownership of land is permitted. In 2015, under the auspices of the Ministry of Commerce, the GoN validated a new Competition and Consumer Protection Law, replacing a 1992 law that was never operational. Niger adheres to the Community Competition Law of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and directives of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) as well as those offered to investors by the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) all of which provide benefits and guarantees to private companies. Foreign and domestic private entities have the right to establish and own business enterprises. A legal Investment Code governs most activities except accounting, which the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA) governs. The Mining Code governs the mining sector and the Petroleum Code governs the petroleum sector, with regulations enforced through their respective ministries. The investment code guarantees equal treatment of investors regardless of nationality. Companies are protected against nationalization, expropriation or requisitioning throughout the national territory, except for reasons of public utility. The state remains the owner of water resources through the Niger Water Infrastructure Corporation (SPEN), created in 2001 and is responsible for the management of the state’s hydraulic infrastructure in urban and semi-urban areas, of its development, and project management. Concessions for the use of water and for the exploitation of works and hydraulic installations may be granted to legal persons governed by private law, generally by presidential decree. An investment screening mechanism does not exist under the Investment Code. Other Investment Policy Reviews In the past three years, the government has not undergone any third-party investment policy reviews through a multi-lateral organization. Neither the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), nor the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has carried out a policy review for Niger. Business Facilitation Niger’s one-stop shop, the Maison de l’Entreprise (Enterprise House) is mandated to enhance business facilitation by mainstreaming and simplifying the procedures required to start a business within a single window registration process. From 2016 to 2019, the cost and time needed to register businesses dropped from 100,000 CFA (about USD190) to 17,500 CFA (about USD33), the time to get permit construction for the business drop, the cost of getting access to the water and electricity network drop also. Further reforms have included the creation of an e-regulations website ( https://niger.eregulations.org/procedure/2/1?l=fr ), which allows for a clear and complete registration process. Foreign companies may use this website. The website lists government agencies, with which a business must register. The business registration process is about 3 days, down from over 14 days in 2016. ( https://niger.eregulations.org/procedure/2/1?l=fr ), which allows for a clear and complete registration process. Foreign companies may use this website. The website lists government agencies, with which a business must register. The business registration process is about 3 days, down from over 14 days in 2016. Company registration can be done at the Centre de Formalités des Entreprises (CFE), at the Maison de l’Entreprise, which is designed as a one-stop-shop for registration. Applicants must file the documents with the Commercial Registry (Registre du Commerce et du Crédit Mobilier – RCCM), which has a representative at the one-stop shop. At the same location, a company can register for taxes, obtain a tax identification number (Numéro d’Identification Fiscale – NIF), register with social security (Caisse nationale de Sécurité Sociale – CNSS), and with the employment agency (Agence Nationale pour la Promotion de l’Emploi – ANPE). Employees can be registered with social security at the same location. At the moment of company registration, the applicant may also request for the publication of a notice of company incorporation on the Maison de l’Entreprise website: http://mde.ne/spip.php?rubrique10 . The notice of company incorporation can alternatively be published in an official newspaper (journal d’annonces légales). Outward Investment The government does not promote outward investment. The government’s policy objectives, as specified in the second Nigerien Renaissance Program (section 1.2), is the development of international markets, especially that of ECOWAS, for Nigerien exports rather than investment. The GON does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad. 3. Legal Regime Transparency of the Regulatory System The GoN possesses transparent policies and requisite laws to foster competition on a non-discriminatory basis, but does not enforce them equally, in large part due to corruption and weak governmental systems. Legal, regulatory, and accounting systems are generally transparent and consistent with international norms. The Legal Regime – related to the Investment Code, Labor Code and Commercial Acts – applies the provisions of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA). It also offers free access to public procurement and with a moderate transparency in the procedures for awarding contract. Niger does not have any regulatory processes managed by nongovernmental organizations or private sector associations. A company in Niger must be entered in the Register of Companies, must obtain a Tax Identification Number (TIN), be registered with the National Social Security Fund (CNSS), and with the National Employment Promotion Agency (ANPE). There, however, is a large informal sector that does not submit to any of the legal provisions and is not formally regulated. Rule-making regulatory, and anti-corruption authorities exist in telecommunication, public procurement, and energy, all of which are relevant for foreign businesses, and are exercised at the national level. The law No 2015-58 established the Energy Sector Regulatory Agency, an independent administrative authority, to regulate the energy sector at the national level, but effectively only in major cities. The December 2012 law No 2012-70 created the Telecommunications and Post Office Regulatory Authority (ARTP). ARTP regulates all aspects of telecommunications operators. Legal, regulatory, and accounting systems are generally transparent and consistent with international norms. The Legal Regime – related to the Tax Code, Customs Code, Investment Code, Mining Code, Petroleum Code, Labor Code and Commercial Acts – applies the provisions of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa OHADA. It also offers free access to public procurement and transparency in the procedures for awarding contracts. GoN officials have confirmed their intent to comply with international norms in its legal, regulatory, and accounting systems, but frequently fall short. Clear procedures are frequently not available. Draft bills are not always available for public comment, although some organizations, such as the Chamber of Commerce, are invited to offer suggestions during the drafting process. Niger does not have a centralized online location where key regulatory actions are published but does have a Directorate of National Archives where Key regulatory actions are kept in print; this direction is under the Ministry Secretary of Government. Foreign and national investors, however, can find detailed information on administrative procedures applicable to investment at the following site: http://niger.eregulations.org/ . The site includes information on income generating operations including the number of steps, name and contact details of the entities and persons in charge of procedures, required documents and conditions, costs, processing time, and legal basis justifying the procedures. A General Inspectorate of Administrative Governance and the Regional Directorates of Archives are in place to oversee administrative processes. Their efforts are reinforced by incentives for state employees, unannounced inspections in public administrations, and an introduction of a sign-in system and exchange meetings. No major regulatory system and/or enforcement reforms were announced in 2020. Regulations are developed via a system of ministerial collaborations and discussions, consultation with the State Council, selection of the text and passage by the Council of Ministers. This is followed by discussions in Parliament, approval by the Constitutional Council and finally approved by the President for publication and distribution to interested stakeholders. Based on the Constitution of 2011, the regulatory power belongs to the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister who can issue regulations for the whole of the national territory. Other administrative authorities also have regulatory power, such as ministers, governors, or prefects and mayors, who have the power of enforcement at the local level. Ministries or regulatory agencies do not conduct impact assessments of proposed regulations. However, ministries or regulatory agencies solicit comments on proposed regulations from the general public through public meetings and targeted outreach to stakeholders, such as business associations or other groups. Public comments are generally not published. Public finances and debt obligations are not enough transparent; however, the International Monetary Fund and the European Union are funding projects to improve finances and debt transparency in which there is annual review that Niger is assessed to make progress. International Regulatory Considerations Niger is a part of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a 15-member West African trade block. National policy generally adheres to ECOWAS guidelines concerning business regulations. Niger is a member of the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development’s international network of transparent investment procedures: http://niger.eregulations.org/ (French language only). Niger is a member of the WTO, but as a lower income member, is exempt from Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs) obligations. The GoN does not notify all draft technical regulations to the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT). Niger ratified a Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in August 2015. The country has reported some progress on implementing the TFA requirements. Legal System and Judicial Independence Niger’s legal system is a legacy of the French colonial system. The legal infrastructure is insufficient, making it difficult to use the courts to enforce ownership of property or contracts. While Niger’s laws protect property and commercial rights, the administration of justice can be slow and unequal. Niger has a written commercial law that is heavily based on the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA). Niger has been a member of OHADA since 1995. OHADA aims to harmonize business laws in 16 African countries by adopting common rules adapted to their economies, setting up appropriate judicial procedures, and encouraging arbitration for the settlement of contractual disputes. OHADA regulations on business and commercial law include definition and classification of legal persons engaged in trade, procedures for credit and recovery of debts, means of enforcement, bankruptcy, receivership, and arbitration. As of 2015, Niger established Commercial Court. In 2015, Niger set up a Commercial Court in Niamey. There were 300 cases recorded in 2019, 173 cases judged at the merits at the end of 2019, and 59 cases remains to be treated. There were 170 cases treated in 2020 by the Commercial Court. Article 116 of the constitution clearly states that the judicial system is independent of the executive and legislative branches. However, the personnel management process for assignments and promotions is through politically appointed personnel in the Ministry of Justice, seriously weakening the independence of the judiciary and raising questions about the fairness and reliability of the judicial process. Regulations or enforcement actions are appealable and adjudicated in the court system. However, it is extremely rare for individuals or corporations to challenge government regulations or enforcement actions in court due to costs and administrative obstacles. For example, in 2018, the GoN initiated tax cases against the telecommunication companies of Orange, Airtel, Moov and Nigertelecom (the state-owned entreprise). Moov, Nigertelecom and Airtel negotiated a settlement. Orange, a French owned multi-national corporation that provides cell phone and Internet service in Niger challenged the government order through the commerce tribunal and later in the constitutional court. To begin the process, Orange had to submit 75 percent of the claimed tax discrepancy. As part of the Constitutional Court’s determination on one aspect of the case, it determined that if an appeal is successful the government must repay the funds, thus the 75 percent charge is not an obstacle to gaining access to the courts. Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment Niger offers guarantees to foreign direct investors pertaining to security of capital and investment, compensation for expropriation, and equality of treatment. Foreign investors may be permitted to transfer income derived from invested capital and from liquidated investments, provided the original investment is made in convertible currencies. Law 2015-08 from 2015 established a specialized Commercial Court in Niamey. This is a mixed court with professional magistrates, who are lawyers by training, who work in tandem with lay-judges, and who generally come from the commercial sector. The concept was to have commercial disputes resolved by a panel of judges with legal training, combined with judges who have experience in the commercial sector. The Commercial Court has 26 judges, who make up five chambers. Unlike U.S. trial courts, where cases are handled by a single judge, in Niger, cases are adjudicated by a panel of judges. After passage of the law in 2015, the Commercial Court began operations in 2016. Judicial decisions that have come out in the past years can be found on the Commerce tribunal of Niamey website: http://www.tribunalcommerceniamey.org/index.php . Niger does not have a dedicated one-stop shop website for investment, but the Chamber of Commerce and Industry houses a specialized institution, known as the Investment Promotion Center (CPI) which supports domestic and foreign investors in terms of business creation, extension and rehabilitation. The GoN is currently developing a Guichet Exterior, or Exterior Window, as a single internet portal for information and applications on foreign investment practices, to be finished at the end of 2021. Competition and Antitrust Laws In 2015, the Ministry of Trade validated a new Competition and Consumer Protection Law, replacing a 1992 law that was never fully operational. Niger also adheres to the Community Competition Law of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). Expropriation and Compensation The Investment Code guarantees that no business will be subject to nationalization or expropriation except when deemed “in the public interest” as prescribed by the law. The code requires that the government compensate any expropriated business with just and equitable payment. There have been a number of expropriations of commercial and personal property, most of which were not conducted in a manner consistent with Nigerien law requiring “just and prior compensation.” It is in fact rare for property owners to be compensated by the government after expropriations of property. With the planned construction of the Kandaji Dam from 2021-2029, the government offered the resettlement of 38,000 individuals and additional animals to new sites. The government created an agency to conduct all resettlement related activities upstream and downstream of the dam construction. The agency conducted a census to determine who would be impacted, and public consultations to meet the populations and collect their complaints at each step of the process were made. The process is ongoing, with some individuals expressing concern about the value of compensation and the ability to farm where they are being resettled. In cases of expropriation carried out by the GoN, claimants and community leaders have alleged a lack of due process. These complaints are currently limited to community forums and press coverage. Many of the families impacted lack the knowledge and ability to exercise their rights under the law. High rates of illiteracy, complexity of the legal system, and lack of resources to retain competent legal counsel present insurmountable barriers to legal remedies for people whose property has been expropriated. Even in situations where educated and wealthy business owners have had their property expropriated, legal challenges to expropriation are not lodged. Dispute Settlement ICSID Convention and New York Convention Investor-State Dispute Settlement The Investment Code offers the possibility for foreign nationals to seek remedy through the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes. Niger does not have a BIT or FTA with the United States that would provide dispute settlement processes. Over the past 10 years, there were no investment disputes that involved a U.S. person. Local courts are generally reluctant to recognize foreign arbitral awards issued against the GoN. Niger does not have a record of extrajudicial actions against foreign investors. International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts Niger has an operational center for mediation and arbitration of business disputes. The center’s stated aim is to maintain investor confidence by eliminating long and expensive procedures traditionally involved in the resolution of business disputes. The Investment Code provides for settlement of disputes by arbitration or by recourse to the World Bank’s International Center for Settlement of Disputes on Investment. However, investment dispute mechanisms in contracts are not always respected and exercising due diligence is extremely important. There was no publicly available information in 2019 on foreign arbitral award enforcement in Niger. Procedures are in place but are often not adhered to because of a lack of resources and corruption in the judicial system. The Investment Code offers the possibility for foreign nationals to seek remedy through the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes. Bankruptcy Regulations Niger has laws related to insolvency and/or bankruptcy. Creditors have the right to object to decisions accepting or rejecting a creditor’s claims and may vote on debtors’ bankruptcy reorganization plans. However, the creditors’ rights are limited: creditors do not have the right to receive from a reorganized firm as much as they may have received from one that had been liquidated. Likewise, the law does not require that creditors be consulted on matters pertaining to an insolvency framework following the declaration of bankruptcy. Bankruptcy is not criminalized. According to data collected by the World Bank’s Doing Business survey, resolving insolvency takes five years on average and costs 18 percent of the debtor’s total assets. Globally, Niger stands at 114 in the 2020 ranking of 190 economies on the ease of resolving insolvency. Niger strength of insolvency framework index (0–16) is 9. 5. Protection of Property Rights Real Property Interests in property are enforced when the landholder is known, but property disputes are common, particularly involving community-owned land or land in rural areas where customary land titles are still common. Mortgages are relatively new instruments; Bank Atlantique introduced the first mortgages in 2014. The bank retains the title to the property until the loan is repaid. Foreign ownership of land is permitted but requires authorization from the Ministry of Planning. The 2018 Finance Law changed tax policies on foreign ownership, but was not yet in force at year’s end. There is no understood proportion of land that has clear title. Property records are unreliable and often under dispute. There is currently no effort by the government to register land titles independent of active transactions. Traditional use rights are at the core of land disputes between Nigerien farmers and traditional nomadic herders. According to data collected by the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business survey conducted in 2019, registering property in Niger requires four procedures, takes 13 days and costs 7.4 percent of the property value. Globally, Niger stands at 115 in the ranking of 190 economies on the ease of registering property. In 2014, Niger made transferring property easier by reducing registration fees. Intellectual Property Rights As a signatory to the 1983 Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, Niger provides national protection under Nigerien patent and trademark laws to foreign businesses. Niger is also a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and a signatory to the Universal Copyright Convention. No new IP laws or regulations have been enacted in the past year Niger does not regularly track and report on seizures of counterfeit goods. There is no specific information about working conditions in the production or sale of counterfeit goods. While there have been some cases of seizure, government statistics are not available. Enforcement of IP is weak due to limited capacity. Niger is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or the Notorious Markets List. 10. Political and Security Environment Niger has been politically stable since 2010, when the most recent of Niger’s coup d’états (there have been four since 1990) concluded within less than a year in a return to democratic governance. The most recent general elections were held in in December 2020, with a presidential run-off in February 2021. President Bazoum Mohamed was elected in the first democratic transfer of executive power in Niger’s history. Tensions over the results of the elections widened divisions between opposition activists and supporters of the incumbent president and his ruling Nigerien Party for Democracy and Socialism (PNDS) and coalition. However, the election proceeded without violence. Brief protests erupted following the election results, but were restrained to only two cities for a few days. Although Niger’s politics are often contentious and antagonistic, political violence is rare. Most parties agree that national security and peaceful cohabitation among Niger’s ethnicities are the government’s principal priority. However, protests and strikes about non-payment of salaries for public employees, lack of funding for education, and general dissatisfaction with social conditions remain a concern. Public protest over issues like poverty, corruption, and unemployment can also sometimes turn violent. In 2020, police arrested several protesters engaged in burning tires and vandalizing property in protest of embezzlement at the Ministry of National Defense. Protests also followed the government’s announcement of social lockdown procedures in March 2020 to respond to COVID-19. Niger experiences security threats on three distinct border areas. Niger is a founding member of the G5 Sahel fighting terrorism in the Sahel while integrating the poverty reduction dimension to mitigate the effects of youth underemployment and violent extremism. The collapse of the Libyan state to the north has resulted in a flow of weapons and extremists throughout the Sahel region. Boko Haram and ISIS-West Africa terrorists regularly launch attacks in the Diffa Region in Niger’s southeast, leading to numerous civilian and security forces deaths. Jama’at al Nusrat al-Islam wa al-Muslimin (JNIM), which is a loose affiliation of al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the Macina Liberation Front (MLF), Ansar Dine, and al-Mourabitoun; along with ISIS-Greater Sahara (ISIS-GS), threaten Niger’s northern and northwestern borders. Terrorists regularly crossed the Mali border to attack civilian and security sites in the Tillaberi and Tahoua regions. Niger has a history of western residents and aid workers being kidnapped by terrorist groups or kidnapping for ransom gangs, as recently as October 2020. So far, more than 15 out of the 266 communes in Niger are in a state of emergency. The State Department’s Travel Advisory for Niger from April 2017 advises travels to be aware that violent crimes including robbery are common and terrorism is a threat. Nigeria 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment The Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC) Act of 1995, amended in 2004, dismantled controls and limits on FDI, allowing for 100% foreign ownership in all sectors, except those prohibited by law for both local and foreign entities. These include arms and ammunitions, narcotics, and military apparel. In practice, however, some regulators include a domestic equity requirement before granting foreign firms an operational license. Nevertheless, foreign investors receive largely the same treatment as domestic investors in Nigeria, including tax incentives. The Act also created the NIPC with a mandate to encourage and assist investment in Nigeria. The NIPC features a One-Stop Investment Center (OSIC) that includes participation by 27 governmental and parastatal agencies to consolidate and streamline administrative procedures for new businesses and investments. The NIPC is empowered to negotiate special incentives for substantial and/or strategic investments. The Act also provides guarantees against nationalization and expropriation. The NIPC occasionally convenes meetings between investors and relevant government agencies with the objective of resolving specific investor complaints. The NIPC’s role and effectiveness is limited to that of convenor and moderator in these sessions as it has no authority over other Government agencies to enforce compliance. The NIPC’s ability to attract new investment has been limited because of the unresolved challenges to investment and business. The Nigerian government continues to promote import substitution policies such as trade restrictions, foreign exchange restrictions, and local content requirements in a bid to attract investment that develops domestic production capacity. The import bans and high tariffs used to advance Nigeria’s import substitution goals have been undermined by smuggling of targeted products through the country’s porous borders, and by corruption in the import quota systems developed by the government to incentivize domestic investment. The government opened land borders in December 2020, which were progressively closed to commercial trade starting in August 2019 with the aim of curbing smuggling and bolstering domestic production. Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment There are currently no limits on foreign control of investments; however, Nigerian regulatory bodies may insist on domestic equity as a prerequisite to doing business. The NIPC Act of 1995, amended in 2004, liberalized the ownership structure of business in Nigeria, allowing foreign investors to own and control 100% of the shares in any company. One hundred percent ownership is allowed in the oil and gas sector. However, the dominant models for oil extraction are joint venture and production sharing agreements between oil companies (both foreign and local) and the federal government. Foreign investors must register with the NIPC after incorporation under the Companies and Allied Matters Act reviewed in 2020. A foreign company may apply for exemption from incorporating a subsidiary if it meets certain conditions including working on a specialized project specifically for the government, and/or funded by a multilateral or bilateral donor or a foreign state-owned enterprise. The NIPC Act prohibits the nationalization or expropriation of foreign enterprises except in cases of national interest and stipulates modalities for “fair and adequate” compensation should that occur. Other Investment Policy Reviews The World Bank published an Investment Policy and Regulatory Review of Nigeria in 2019. It provides an overview of Nigeria’s legal and regulatory framework as it affects FDI, foreign investors, and businesses at large and is available at https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/33596 . The WTO published a trade policy review of Nigeria in 2017, which also includes a brief overview and assessment of Nigeria’s investment climate. That review is available at https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp456_e.htm . Business Facilitation The government established the Presidential Enabling Business Environment Council (PEBEC) in 2016 with the objective of removing constraints to starting and running a business in Nigeria. Nigeria’s ranking has since jumped from 169 to 131 on the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business Report and has ranked in the top ten most improved economies in two out of the last three years. Nigeria recorded improvements in eight of the 10 categories with “obtaining construction permits” witnessing the highest increase. The other two categories, “getting credit” and “protecting minority investments” remained static. Despite these improvements, Nigeria remains a difficult place to do business, ranking 179 out of 190 countries in the “trading across borders” category and scoring below its sub-Saharan counterparts in all trading subcategories. Particularly egregious were time to import (border compliance) and cost to import (documentary compliance) which, at 242 hours and $564, respectively, are double the sub-Saharan African average. PEBEC’s focal areas are improving trade, starting a business, registering property, obtaining building permits and electricity, and obtaining credit. The OSIC co-locates relevant government agencies to provide more efficient and transparent services to investors, although much of its functions have yet to be moved online. The OSIC assists with visas for investors, company incorporation, business permits and registration, tax registration, immigration, and customs issues. Investors may pick up documents and approvals that are statutorily required to establish an investment project in Nigeria. All businesses, both foreign and local, are required to register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) before commencing operations. CAC began online registration as part of PEBEC reforms. Online registration is straightforward and consists of three major steps: name search, reservation of business name, and registration. A registration guideline is available on the website as is a post-registration portal for enacting changes to company details. The CAC online registration website is https://pre.cac.gov.ng/home . The registration requires the signature of a Legal Practitioner and attestation by a Notary Public or Commissioner for Oaths. Business registration can be completed online but the certificate of incorporation is usually collected at a CAC office upon presentation of the original application and supporting documents. Online registration can be completed in as little as three days if there are no issues with the application. On average, a limited liability company (LLC) in Nigeria can be established in seven days. This average is significantly faster than the 22-day average for Sub-Saharan Africa. It is also faster than the OECD average of nine days. Timing may vary in different parts of the country. Businesses must also register with the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) for tax payments purposes. If the business operates in a state other than the Federal Capital Territory, it must also register with the relevant state tax authority. CAC issues a Tax Identification Number (TIN) to all businesses on completion of registration which must be validated on the FIRS website https://apps.firs.gov.ng/tinverification/ and subsequently used to register to pay taxes. The FIRS will then assign the nearest tax office with which the business will engage for tax payments purposes. Some taxes may also be filed and paid online on the FIRS website. Foreign companies are also required to register with NIPC which maintains a database of all foreign companies operating in Nigeria. Companies which import capital must do so through an authorized dealer, typically a bank, after which they are issued a Certificate of Capital Importation. This certificate entitles the foreign investor to open a bank account in foreign currency and provides access to foreign exchange for repatriation, imports, and other purposes. A company engaging in international trade must get an import-export license from the Nigerian Customs Service (NCS). Businesses may also be required to register with other regulatory agencies which supervise the sector within which they operate. Outward Investment Nigeria does not promote outward direct investments. Instead, it focuses on promoting exports especially as a means of reducing its reliance on oil exports and diversifying its foreign exchange earnings. The Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) administered a revised Export Expansion Grant (EEG) in 2018 when the federal government set aside 5.1 billion naira ($13 million) in the 2019 budget for the EEG scheme. The Nigerian Export-Import (NEXIM) Bank provides commercial bank guarantees and direct lending to facilitate export sector growth, although these services are underused. NEXIM’s Foreign Input Facility provides normal commercial terms of three to five years (or longer) for the importation of machinery and raw materials used for generating exports. Agencies created to promote industrial exports remain burdened by uneven management, vaguely defined policy guidelines, and corruption. Nigeria’s inadequate power supply and lack of infrastructure, coupled with the associated high production costs, leave Nigerian exporters at a significant disadvantage. Many Nigerian businesses fail to export because they find meeting international packaging and safety standards is too difficult or expensive. Similarly, firms often are unable to meet consumer demand for a consistent supply of high-quality goods in sufficient quantities to support exports and meet domestic demand. Most Nigerian manufacturers remain unable to or uninterested in competing in the international market, given the size of Nigeria’s domestic market. Domestic firms are not restricted from investing abroad. However, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) mandates that export earnings be repatriated to Nigeria, and controls access to the foreign exchange required for such investments. Noncompliance with the directive carries sanctions including expulsion from accessing financial services and the foreign exchange market. Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in April 2020 prohibited investment and trading platforms from facilitating Nigerians’ purchase of foreign securities listed on other stock exchanges. SEC cites Nigeria’s Investment and Securities Act of 2007, which mandates that only foreign securities listed on a Nigerian exchange should be sold to the Nigerian investing public. 2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties Nigeria belongs to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a free trade area comprising 15 countries located in West Africa. Nigeria signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) – a free trade agreement consisting of 54 African countries, which became operational on January 1, 2021 – but its legislature has yet to ratify it. Nigeria has bilateral investment agreements with: Algeria, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, Jamaica, the Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Morocco, the Netherlands, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Turkey, Uganda, and the United Kingdom. Fifteen of these treaties (those with China, France, Finland, Germany, Italy, the Republic of Korea, the Netherlands, Romania, Serbia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom) have been ratified by both parties. The government signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with the United States in 2000. U.S. and Nigerian officials held their latest round of TIFA talks in 2016. In 2017, Nigeria and the United States signed a memorandum of understanding to formally establish the U.S.–Nigeria Commercial and Investment Dialogue (CID). The ministerial-level meeting with private sector representatives was last held in February 2020. The CID coordinates bilateral private sector-to-private sector, government-to-government, and private sector-to-government discussions on policy and regulatory reforms to promote increased, diverse, and sustained trade and investment between the United States and Nigeria, with an initial focus on infrastructure, agriculture, digital economy, investment, and regulatory reform. Nigeria has 14 ratified double taxation agreements, including: Belgium, Canada, China, Czech Republic, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, Romania, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Nigeria does not have such an agreement with the United States. Nigeria introduced a new tax law, colloquially known as the “digital tax,” in 2020 which subjects non-resident companies with significant economic presence to corporate and sales taxes. Most of the affected companies are digital firms, many with U.S. headquarters. The local U.S. Chamber of Commerce affiliate has raised concerns about the lack of clarity on profit attribution, scope of the taxes, double taxation, and potential detrimental impact on company profits. The legislature expects to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill in the first half of 2021, which will revise taxes in the oil and gas sector. 3. Legal Regime Transparency of the Regulatory System Nigeria’s legal, accounting, and regulatory systems comply with international norms, but application and enforcement remain uneven. Opportunities for public comment and input into proposed regulations rarely occur. Professional organizations set standards for the provision of professional services, such as accounting, law, medicine, engineering, and advertising. These standards usually comply with international norms. No legal barriers prevent entry into these sectors. Ministries and regulatory agencies develop and make public anticipated regulatory changes or proposals and publish proposed regulations before their application. The general public has opportunity to comment through targeted outreach, including business groups and stakeholders, and during the public hearing process before a bill becomes law. There is no specialized agency tasked with publicizing proposed changes and the time period for comment may vary. Ministries and agencies do conduct impact assessments, including environmental, but assessment methodologies may vary. The National Bureau of Statistics reviews regulatory impact assessments conducted by other agencies. Laws and regulations are publicly available. Fiscal management occurs at all three tiers of government: federal, 36 state governments and Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, and 774 local government areas (LGAs). Revenues from oil and non-oil sources are collected into the federation account and then shared among the different tiers of government by the Federal Account Allocation Committee (FAAC) in line with a statutory sharing formula. All state governments can collect internally generated revenues, which vary from state to state. The fiscal federalism structure does not compel states to be accountable to the federal government or transparent about revenues generated or received from the federation account. However, the federal government can demand states meet predefined minimum fiscal transparency requirements as prerequisites for obtaining federal loans. For instance, compliance with the 22-point Fiscal Sustainability Plan, which focused on ensuring better state financial performance, more sustainable debt management, and improved accountability and transparency, was a prerequisite for obtaining a federal government bailout in 2016. The federal government’s finances are more transparent as budgets are made public and the financial data are published by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Debt Management Office (DMO), the Budget Office of the Federation, and the National Bureau of Statistics. The state-owned oil company (Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC)) began publishing audited financial data in 2020. International Regulatory Considerations Foreign companies operate successfully in Nigeria’s service sectors, including telecommunications, accounting, insurance, banking, and advertising. The Investment and Securities Act of 2007 forbids monopolies, insider trading, and unfair practices in securities dealings. Nigeria is not a party to the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement (GPA). Nigeria generally regulates investment in line with the WTO’s Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMS) Agreement, but the government’s local content requirements in the oil and gas sector and the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector may conflict with Nigeria’s commitments under TRIMS. ECOWAS implemented a Common External Tariff (CET) beginning in 2015 with a five-year phase in period. An internal CET implementation committee headed by the Fiscal Policy/Budget Monitoring and Evaluation Department of the NCS was set up to develop the implementation work plans that were consistent with national and ECOWAS regulations. The CET was slated to be fully harmonized by 2020, but in practice some ECOWAS Member States have maintained deviations from the CET beyond the January 1, 2020, deadline. The country has put in place a CET monitoring committee domiciled at the Ministry of Finance, consisting of several ministries, departments, and agencies (MDAs) related to the CET. Nigeria applies five tariff bands under the CET: zero duty on capital goods, machinery, and essential drugs not produced locally; 5% duty on imported raw materials; 10% duty on intermediate goods; 20% duty on finished goods; and 35% duty on goods in certain sectors such as palm oil, meat products, dairy, and poultry that the Nigerian government seeks to protect. The CET permits ECOWAS member governments to calculate import duties higher than the maximum allowed in the tariff bands (but not to exceed a total effective duty of 70%) for up to 3% of the 5,899 tariff lines included in the ECOWAS CET. Legal System and Judicial Independence Legal System and Judicial Independence Nigeria has a complex, three-tiered legal system comprised of English common law, Islamic law, and Nigerian customary law. Most business transactions are governed by common law modified by statutes to meet local demands and conditions. The Supreme Court is the pinnacle of the judicial system and has original and appellate jurisdiction in specific constitutional, civil, and criminal matters as prescribed by Nigeria’s constitution. The Federal High Court has jurisdiction over revenue matters, admiralty law, banking, foreign exchange, other currency and monetary or fiscal matters, and lawsuits to which the federal government or any of its agencies are party. The Nigerian court system is generally slow and inefficient, lacks adequate court facilities and computerized document-processing systems, and poorly remunerates judges and other court officials, all of which encourages corruption and undermines enforcement. Judges frequently fail to appear for trials and court officials lack proper equipment and training. The constitution and law provide for an independent judiciary; however, the judicial branch remains susceptible to pressure from the executive and legislative branches. Political leaders have influenced the judiciary, particularly at the state and local levels. The World Bank’s publication, Doing Business 2020, ranked Nigeria 73 out of 190 on enforcement of contracts, a significant improvement from previous years. The Doing Business report credited business reforms for improving contract enforcement by issuing new rules of civil procedure for small claims courts, which limit adjournments to unforeseen and exceptional circumstances but noted that there can be variation in performance indicators between cities in Nigeria (as in other developing countries). For example, resolving a commercial dispute takes 476 days in Kano but 376 days in Lagos. In the case of Lagos, the 376 days includes 40 days for filing and service, 194 days for trial and judgment, and 142 days for enforcement of the judgment with total costs averaging 42% of the claim. In Kano, however, filing and service only takes 21 days with enforcement of judgement only taking 90 days, but trial and judgment accounts for 365 days with total costs averaging lower at 28% of the claim. In comparison, in OECD countries the corresponding figures are an average of 589.6 days and averaging 21.5% of the claim and in sub-Saharan countries an average of 654.9 days and averaging 41.6% of the claim. Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment The NIPC Act allows 100 percent foreign ownership of firms. Foreign investors must register with the NIPC after incorporation under the Companies and Allied Matters Act of 2020. The NIPC Act prohibits the nationalization or expropriation of foreign enterprises except in case of national interest, but the Embassy is unaware of specific instances of such interference by the government. Competition and Antitrust Laws The Nigerian government enacted the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection (FCCPC) Act in 2019. The act repealed the Consumer Protection Act of 2004 and replaced the previous Consumer Protection Council with a Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission while also creating a Competition and Consumer Protection Tribunal to handle issues and disputes arising from the operations of the Act. Under the terms of the Act, businesses will be able to lodge anti-competitive practices complaints against other firms in the Tribunal. The act prohibits agreements made to restrain competition, such as price fixing, price rigging, collusive tendering, etc. (with specific exemptions for collective bargaining agreements and employment, among other items). The act empowers the President of Nigeria to regulate prices of certain goods and services on the recommendation of the Commission. The law prescribes stringent fines for non-compliance. The law mandates a fine of up to 10% of the company’s annual turnover in the preceding business year for offences. The law harmonizes oversight for consumer protection, consolidating it under the FCCPC. Expropriation and Compensation The FGN has not expropriated or nationalized foreign assets since the late 1970s, and the NIPC Act forbids nationalization of a business or assets unless the acquisition is in the national interest or for a public purpose. In such cases, investors are entitled to fair compensation and legal redress. Dispute Settlement ICSID Convention and New York Convention Nigeria is a member of the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes and the New York Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (also called the “New York Convention”). The Arbitration and Conciliation Act of 1988 provides for a unified and straightforward legal framework for the fair and efficient settlement of commercial disputes by arbitration and conciliation. The Act created internationally competitive arbitration mechanisms, established proceeding schedules, provided for the application of the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) arbitration rules or any other international arbitration rule acceptable to the parties, and made the New York Convention applicable to contract enforcement, based on reciprocity. The Act allows parties to challenge arbitrators, provides that an arbitration tribunal shall ensure that the parties receive equal treatment, and ensures that each party has full opportunity to present its case. Some U.S. firms have written provisions mandating International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) arbitration into their contracts with Nigerian partners. Several other arbitration organizations also operate in Nigeria. Investor-State Dispute Settlement Nigeria’s civil courts have jurisdiction over disputes between foreign investors and the Nigerian government as well as between foreign investors and Nigerian businesses. The courts occasionally rule against the government. Nigerian law allows the enforcement of foreign judgments after proper hearings in Nigerian courts. Plaintiffs receive monetary judgments in the currency specified in their claims. Section 26 of the NIPC Act provides for the resolution of investment disputes through arbitration as follows: Where a dispute arises between an investor and any Government of the Federation in respect of an enterprise, all efforts shall be made through mutual discussion to reach an amicable settlement. Any dispute between an investor and any Government of the Federation in respect of an enterprise to which this Act applies which is not amicably settled through mutual discussions, may be submitted at the option of the aggrieved party to arbitration as follows: in the case of a Nigerian investor, in accordance with the rules of procedure for arbitration as specified in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act; or in the case of a foreign investor, within the framework of any bilateral or multilateral agreement on investment protection to which the Federal Government and the country of which the investor is a national are parties; or in accordance with any other national or international machinery for the settlement of investment disputes agreed on by the parties. Where in respect of any dispute, there is disagreement between the investor and the Federal Government as to the method of dispute settlement to be adopted, the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Dispute Rules shall apply. Nigeria is a signatory to the 1958 Convention on Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. Nigerian Courts have generally recognized contractual provisions that call for international arbitration. Nigeria does not have a Bilateral Investment Treaty or Free Trade Agreement with the United States. Bankruptcy Regulations Reflecting Nigeria’s business culture, entrepreneurs generally do not seek bankruptcy protection. Claims often go unpaid, even in cases where creditors obtain judgments against defendants. Under Nigerian law, the term bankruptcy generally refers to individuals whereas corporate bankruptcy is referred to as insolvency. The former is regulated by the Bankruptcy Act of 1990, as amended by Bankruptcy Decree 109 of 1992. The latter is regulated by the Companies and Allied Matters Act 2020. The Embassy is not aware of U.S. companies that have had to avail themselves of the insolvency provisions under Nigerian law. 5. Protection of Property Rights Real Property The Nigerian government recognizes secured interests in property, such as mortgages. The recording of security instruments and their enforcement remain subject to the same inefficiencies as those in the judicial system. In the World Bank Doing Business 2020 Report, Nigeria ranked 183 out of the 190 countries surveyed for registering property, a decline of one point over its 2019 ranking. Property registration in Lagos required an average of 12 steps over 105 days at a cost of 11.1% of the property value while in Kano registering property averages 11 steps over 47 days at a cost of 11.8% of the property value. Owners transfer most property through long-term leases, with certificates of occupancy acting as title deeds. Property transfers are complex and must usually go through state governors’ offices, or the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory for lands located in the federal capital, as state governments have jurisdiction over land ownership. Authorities have often compelled owners to demolish buildings deemed to be in contravention of building codes or urban masterplans, including government buildings, commercial buildings, residences, and churches, even in the face of court injunctions. Acquiring and maintaining rights to real property can be problematic. Clarity of title and registration of land ownership remain significant challenges throughout rural Nigeria, where many smallholder farmers have only ancestral or traditional use claims to their land. Nigeria’s land reforms have attempted to address this barrier to development but with limited success. Intellectual Property Rights Intellectual property rights (IPR) in Nigeria face challenges in three areas: (1) limited awareness and capacity within the judicial and law enforcement system, (2) a weak statutory regime, (3) and poor funding and resource allocation. Nigeria’s legal and institutional infrastructure for protecting IPR remains in need of further development, even though laws on the books enforce most IPR. The areas in which the legislation is deficient include online piracy, geographical indications, and plant and animal breeders’ rights. A draft copyright bill, first circulated in 2017, was re-circulated in 2020 but has yet to be passed. Drafters are working to define technological protection measures (known as TPMs), remuneration rights, the definition of “broadcasting,” and other points. The bill proposes stricter penalties for IPR infractions. However, a firm timeline for passage of a new copyright law remains elusive. Existing copyright protection in Nigeria is governed by the Copyright Act of 1988, as amended in 1992 and 1999, which provides an adequate basis for enforcing copyright and combating piracy. The Nigerian Copyright Commission, a division of the Ministry of Justice, administers the Act. The International Anti-Counterfeiting Coalition (IACC) has long noted that the Copyright Act should be amended to provide stiffer penalties for violators. Nigeria is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and in 2017 passed legislation to ratify two WIPO treaties that it signed in 1997: the Copyright Treaty and the Performances and Phonograms Treaty. These treaties address important digital communication and broadcast issues that have become increasingly relevant in the 18 years since Nigeria signed them. Violations of Nigerian IPR laws continue to be widespread. Anti-counterfeiting groups report that the Nigerian police work to combat counterfeiting and readily engage with trademark owners but lacks the capacity to fully enforce these laws. The Nigerian Copyright Commission (NCC) has primary responsibility for copyright enforcement but is understaffed and underfunded relative to the magnitude of the IPR challenge in Nigeria. Authorized penalties for offenses remain relatively low for now and rights-holders note that offenses are typically met with non-deterrent, modest fines. Nevertheless, the NCC continues to carry out enforcement actions on a regular basis. The NCS has general authority to seize and destroy contraband. Under current law, copyrighted works require a notice issued by the rights owner to Customs to treat such works as infringing but implementing procedures have not been developed and this procedure is handled on a case- by-case basis between the NCS and the NCC. Once seizures are made, the NCS invites the NCC to inspect and subsequently take delivery of the consignment of fake goods for purposes of further investigation because the NCC has the statutory responsibility to investigate and prosecute copyright violations. The NCC bears the costs of moving and storing infringing goods. If, after investigations, any persons are identified with the infringing materials, a decision to prosecute may be made. Where no persons are identified or could be traced, the NCC may obtain an order of court to enable it to destroy such works. The NCC works in cooperation with rights owners’ associations and stakeholders in the copyright industries on such matters. Nigeria is not listed in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301Report or the Notorious Markets List. For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see the WIPO country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ . 10. Political and Security Environment Political, religious, and ethnic violence continue to affect Nigeria. The Islamist group Jama’atu Ahl as-Sunnah li-Da’awati wal-Jihad, popularly known as Boko Haram, and Islamic State – West Africa (ISIS-WA) have waged a violent terrorist campaign to destabilize the Nigerian government, killing tens of thousands of people, forcing over two million to flee to other areas of Nigeria or into neighboring countries, and leaving more than seven million people in need of humanitarian assistance in the country’s northeast. Boko Haram has targeted markets, churches, mosques, government installations, educational institutions, and leisure sites with improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and suicide vehicle-borne IEDs across nine northern states and in Abuja. In 2017, Boko Haram employed hundreds of suicide bombings against the local population. Women and children were forced to carry out many of the attacks. There were multiple reports of Boko Haram killing entire villages suspected of cooperating with the government. ISIS-WA targeted civilians with attacks or kidnappings less frequently than Boko Haram. ISIS-WA employed acts of violence and intimidation to expand its area of influence and gain control over critical economic resources. As part of a violent and deliberate campaign, ISIS-WA also targeted government figures, traditional leaders, humanitarian workers, transportation workers, and contractors. President Buhari has focused on matters of insecurity in Nigeria and in neighboring countries. While the two insurgencies maintain the ability to stage forces in rural areas and launch attacks against civilian and military targets across the northeast, Nigeria is also facing rural violence in the Nigeria’s north central and northwest states caused by bandits and criminals and by conflicts between migratory pastoralist and farming communities, often over scarce resources. Another major trend is the nationwide rise in kidnappings for ransom and attacks on villages by armed gangs. Due to challenging security dynamics throughout the country, the U.S. Mission to Nigeria has significantly limited official travel in the northeast, and travel to other parts of Nigeria requires security precautions. Decades of neglect, persistent poverty, and environmental damage caused by oil spills have left Nigeria’s oil rich Niger Delta region vulnerable to renewed violence. Though each oil-producing state receives a 13% derivation of the oil revenue produced within its borders, and several government agencies, including the Niger Delta Development Corporation (NDDC) and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs, are tasked with implementing development projects, bureaucratic mismanagement and corruption have prevented these investments from yielding meaningful economic and social development in the region. Niger Delta militants have demonstrated their ability to attack and severely damage oil instillations at will as seen when they cut Nigeria’s production by more than half in 2016. While attacks on oil installations have since decreased due to a revamped amnesty program and continuous high-level engagement with the region, the underlying issues and historical grievances of the local communities have not been addressed. As a result, insecurity in various forms continues to plague the region. Republic of the Congo 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment The ROC government welcomes FDI in most sectors and particularly in the oil sector, which accounts for 90 percent of FDI inflows. The government has stated an urgent need to attract investment outside of the petroleum sector. In conjunction with an International Monetary Fund extended credit facility awarded in July 2019, ROC pledged to undertake legislative, regulatory, and institutional reforms to improve the investment climate. The United States and ROC signed an investment agreement in 1994. No known laws or practices discriminate against foreign investors, including U.S. investors, by prohibiting, limiting or conditioning foreign investment in a sector of the economy. ROC’s Agency for the Promotion of Investments (API), established in 2013, promotes economic diversification by seeking to expand the pool of external investors. API provides French-language advisory services to potential investors and maintains a database of government projects seeking private investor partners. The government has made no significant efforts to retain foreign investments or to maintain dialogue with investors. The High Committee for Public-Private Dialogue, Le Haut Comité du Dialogue Public-Privé, established in 2012, convened one meeting in 2020. Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment Foreign and domestic private entities have the right to establish and own business enterprises and engage in all forms of remunerative activity. ROC has no known limits on foreign ownership or control. Foreign business entities investing in the petroleum sector must pursue a joint venture with the Congolese National Petroleum Company (SNPC). An ROC executive order of November 15, 2019 requires foreign companies in the hydrocarbons sector to employ Congolese in 80 percent of management positions and 90 percent of all employee positions. All forestry companies, both foreign- and locally-owned, are required by law to process 85 percent of their timber domestically and export it as furniture or otherwise transformed wood. The law allows timber companies to export up to 15 percent of their wood product as natural timber. In practice, however, the economy exports as much timber as natural timber. ROC has no formal investment screening mechanism for inbound foreign investment. Other Investment Policy Reviews The government has not undertaken any third-party investment policy reviews in recent years. Business Facilitation The ROC Agency for Business Creation, or Agence Congolaise Pour la Création des Entreprises (ACPCE), serves as a “one-stop shop” for establishing a business. ACPCE has offices in Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, N’kayi, Ouesso, and Dolisie. To establish a business in ROC, investors must provide ACPCE with two copies of the company by-laws, two copies of capitalization documents (e.g. a bank letter or an affidavit), a copy of the company’s investment strategy, company-approved financial statements (if available), and ownership documents or lease agreements for the company’s offices in ROC. The ACPCE has a website, http://www.acpce.cg/, which serves as an information-only website. Business registration cannot be completed through the website. Outward Investment The ROC government does not promote or incentivize outward investment. The ROC government does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad. 3. Legal Regime Transparency of the Regulatory System Lack of transparency poses one of the greatest hurdles to FDI, as investors must navigate an opaque regulatory bureaucracy. Companies routinely find themselves embroiled in tax, customs, and labor disputes arbitrated by court officials who make decisions that do not conform with Congolese law and ROC Ministry of Justice regulations. ROC has no known informal regulatory processes managed by nongovernmental organizations or private sector associations. The government develops new regulations internally and rarely requests input from industry representatives. Various ministries have regulatory authority over the individual industries in their area of responsibility, with overall authority coordinated by the Ministry of Economy. The government does not usually offer a formal, public comment period. ROC’s accounting, legal, and regulatory procedures are transparent. ROC uses Francophone Africa’s OHADA – the Organization for Business and Customs Harmonization, or Organisation pour l’Harmonisation en Afrique du Droit des Affaires – system of accounting, legal, and regulatory procedures. The government does not normally make draft bills or regulations available for public comment. The government publishes new laws and regulations in ROC’s Official Journal. The Official Journal is available for download at the website of the Secretary General of the Government maintains the Official Journal online at http://www.sgg.cg. Most government ministries have an inspector general that conducts oversight to ensure that government agencies follow administrative processes. The office of the president additionally has an inspector general who supervises the entire government. The government announced no new regulatory system, including enforcement reforms, during the reporting period. No new reforms were made in the reporting period. The inspector general process is not legally reviewable and not accountable to the public. The government makes transparent some public finances and debt obligations, including explicit and contingent liabilities. The Ministry of Finance publishes the arrangements on its website, https://www.finances.gouv.cg/. International Regulatory Considerations ROC participates as a member in the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC), a regional economic cooperation community, and in the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), a monetary union of six Central African states. These regional economic organizations control much of the national economic and finance regulatory system. ROC’s regulatory system for business disputes and regulations governing company registration structure and incorporation incorporate Francophone African regulatory norms promulgated by OHADA – the Organization for Business and Customs Harmonization, or Organisation pour l’harmonisation en Afrique du droit des affaires. ROC participates as a member country of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The government does not provide information as to whether or not it notifies the WTO Committee of all draft regulations relating to Technical Barriers to Trade. ROC signed the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement but has not begun implementing the agreement. Legal System and Judicial Independence The French civil law legal system serves as the basis of the Congolese legal system. The Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA), or Organisation pour l’harmonisation en Afrique du droit des affaires, provides the basis for ROC’s national commercial law, which also incorporates provisions unique to ROC. A commercial court exists in ROC but has not convened since 2016. The judicial system remains independent in principle, however, in practice the executive branch has intervened in the judicial system. Appellate courts exist and receive appeals of enforcement actions. Public Law 6-2003, which established the country’s Investment Charter, states that Congolese law will resolve investment disputes. Judgments of foreign courts are difficult to enforce in ROC. Though the government does not usually deny those judgments outright, it may propose process or procedural delays that prolong the matter indefinitely without resolution. Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment ROC’s Commercial Court has authority over any legal disputes involving foreign investors. Investors may also file legal complaints in the OHADA court – based in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire – which has jurisdiction throughout Francophone Africa. ROC’s Hydrocarbons Law and Mining Code of 2016 contain industry-specific regulations for foreign investments. The government published no major laws, regulations, or judicial decisions related to foreign investment during the reporting period. The ROC Agency for Business Creation, or Agence Congolaise Pour la Création des Entreprises (ACPCE), serves as a “one-stop shop” for establishing a business. Its website has limited information about laws, rules, and reporting requirements: http://www.acpce.cg/. Competition and Antitrust Laws No agencies review transactions for competition-related concerns, either domestic or international in nature. Ministries in general monitor individual industries and review industry-related transactions. Expropriation and Compensation The ROC government may legally expropriate property if it finds a public need for a given public facility or infrastructure (e.g. roads, hospitals, etc.). No recent history of expropriation regarding private companies exists. Historically, however, the ROC government has expropriated private property from Congolese citizens to build roads and stadiums. Law entitles the claimants to fair market value compensation, but the government made such compensation inconsistently. Beginning in 2012, the ROC government expropriated the land of Congolese private property owners in the Kintele suburb of Brazzaville to build a state-of-the-art sports complex for the 2015 African Games. The government offered little or no compensation to some property owners, and they complained of a lack of legal recourse against the government. Dispute Settlement ICSID Convention and New York Convention ROC is a party to the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID). The ROC government has not ratified the New York Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. There is no specific domestic legislation providing for enforcement of awards under the ICSID Convention. Investor-State Dispute Settlement ROC is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA), which includes binding international arbitration of investment disputes. ROC has a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with the United States that includes an investment chapter. U.S. investors have made no recent claims under the agreement. There have been two investment disputes involving U.S. entities in the past ten years. In one, a company successfully negotiated a settlement with ROC authorities after filing suit in a New York district court. In the second, a company successfully sued ROC in U.S. and French courts over non-payment for goods and services, however, the ROC government refused to recognize the judgements. Congolese courts subsequently issued their own judgements in favor of the ROC government. The ROC government no longer responds to attempts by the company or intermediaries to engage on this dispute. Local courts have rarely recognized and enforced foreign arbitral awards issued against the government. There is no known history of extrajudicial action against foreign investors. International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts There is no known alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms available in ROC. ROC inconsistently abides by international arbitration for any treaty, international convention, or organization of which it is a member. In practice, arbitral judgments are difficult to enforce. Commercial courts constitute the domestic arbitration bodies within the country. The commercial court legislation and structure follows French commercial legislation and structure. Local courts inconsistently recognize and enforce foreign arbitral awards. ROC law allows for the recognitions of foreign judgments when the relevant laws appear sufficiently similar to Congolese law. Congolese courts have not accepted any foreign arbitral awards in recent years. There are no known investment disputes involving state owned enterprises in recent years. Bankruptcy Regulations ROC has no specific law that governs bankruptcy. As a member of OHADA, the Organization for Business and Customs Harmonization or Organisation pour l’harmonisation en Afrique du droit des affaires, ROC applies OHADA bankruptcy provisions in the event of corporate or individual insolvency. No laws criminalize bankruptcy. ROC does not have a credit bureau or other credit monitoring authority serving the country’s market. 5. Protection of Property Rights Real Property The government enforces property rights, though companies and individuals cite inconsistent enforcement. Mortgages and liens exist. The recording system is generally reliable. No known specific regulations regarding land lease or acquisition by foreign investors exist. The government has no definitive registry of untitled land. There is effort by the government to push property owners to register land titles. Property ownership can transfer to other owners if the property remains unoccupied for 10 consecutive years while having been simultaneously occupied by another user (squatter). Intellectual Property Rights As a member of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), the ROC participates in the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI). OAPI manages a single copyright system for all member states. Additionally, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), ROC is obligated to ensure that intellectual property (IP) legislation conforms to WTO norms and standards. The Ministry of Commerce leads issues related to counterfeit products. Local authorities have historically seized and destroyed contraband items, such as medical supplies and food products. Determining the extent of IP infringement is challenging because the ROC maintains no formal system of tracking and reporting seizures of counterfeit goods. Additionally, the ROC government reportedly uses unlicensed software on its computers. The government has not enacted any new IP-related laws or regulations in the past year. ROC is not listed in USTR’s Special 301 Report or the Notorious Markets List. For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ . 10. Political and Security Environment Congo has experienced several periods of political violence and civil disturbance since its independence in 1960. The most recent period ended in December 2017, when anti-government forces in the Pool region – which surrounds the capital of Brazzaville – signed a ceasefire agreement with the government. There are no known examples of damage to commercial projects and/or installations in the past ten years. Civil disturbances have occasionally resulted in damage to high-profile, public places such as police stations. The political environment is noticeably calmer since the end of the 2017 legislative elections. ROC held a presidential election in March 2021 that proceeded without any unrest or violence. Authorities inhibited the ability of some organizations to monitor the election and arrested a small number of political activists before and after the election. The country’s internet was shut down from the morning of the election until the announcement of results three days later. South Africa 1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) The Government of South Africa is generally open to foreign investment to drive economic growth, improve international competitiveness, and access foreign markets. The Department of Trade and Industry and Competition’s (the DTIC) Trade and Investment South Africa (TISA) division assists foreign investors. It actively courts manufacturing in sectors where it believes South Africa has a competitive advantage. It favors sectors that are labor intensive and with the potential for local supply chain development. The DTIC publishes the “Investor’s Handbook” on its website: www.the DTIC.gov.za and TISA provides investment support through One Stop Shops in Pretoria, Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, and online at http://www.investsa.gov.za/one-stop-shop/ (see Business Facilitation). The 2018 Competition Amendment Bill introduced a government review mechanism for FDI in certain sectors on national security grounds, including energy, mining, banking, insurance, and defense (see section on Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment). The private sector has expressed concern about the politicization of mergers and acquisitions. Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment Currently there is no limitation on foreign private ownership. South Africa’s efforts to re-integrate historically disadvantaged South Africans into the economy have led to policies that could disadvantage foreign and some locally owned companies. The Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act of 2013 (B-BBEE), and associated codes of good practice, requires levels of company ownership and participation by black South Africans to obtain bidding preferences on government tenders and contracts. The DTIC created an alternative equity equivalence (EE) program for multinational or foreign owned companies to allow them to score on the ownership requirements under the law, but many view the terms as onerous and restrictive. Only eight multinationals, primarily in the technology sector, participate in the EE program. The government also is considering a new Equity Employment Bill that will set a numerical threshold, purportedly at the discretion of each Ministry, for employment based on race, gender and disability, over and above other B-BBEE criteria. Other Investment Policy Reviews The World Trade Organization published a Trade Policy Review for the Southern African Customs Union, which South Africa joined in 2015. OECD published an Economic Survey on South Africa, with investment-related information in 2020. UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has not conducted investment policy reviews for South Africa. https://www.oecd.org/economy/surveys/South-africa-2020-Overview_E.pdf Business Facilitation According to the World Bank’s Doing Business report, South Africa’s rank in ease of doing business in 2020 was 84 of 190, down from 82 in 2019. It ranks 139th for starting a business, 5 points lower than in 2019. In South Africa, it takes an average of 40 days to complete the process. South Africa ranks 145 of 190 countries on trading across borders. The DTIC has established One Stop Shops (OSS) to simplify administrative procedures and guidelines for foreign companies wishing to invest in South Africa in Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg. OSS are supposed to have officials from government entities that handle regulation, permits and licensing, infrastructure, finance, and incentives, with a view to reducing lengthy bureaucratic procedures, reducing bottlenecks, and providing post-investment services. Some users of the OSS complain that some of the inter-governmental offices are not staffed, so finding a representative for certain transactions may be difficult. The virtual OSS web site is: http://www.investsa.gov.za/one-stop-shop/ . The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) issues business registrations, and publishes a step-by-step guide and allows for online registration at ( http://www.cipc.co.za/index.php/register-your-business/companies/ ), through a self-service terminal, or through a collaborating private bank. New businesses must also request through the South African Revenue Service (SARS) an income tax reference number for turnover tax (small companies), corporate tax, employer contributions for PAYE (income tax), and skills development levy (applicable to most companies). The smallest informal companies may not be required to register with CIPC but must register with the tax authorities. Companies must also register with the Department of Labour (DoL) – www.labour.gov.za – to contribute to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and a compensation fund for occupational injuries. DoL registration may take up to 30 days but may be done concurrently with other registrations. Outward Investment South Africa does not incentivize outward investments. South Africa’s stock foreign direct investments in the United States in 2019 totaled USD 4.1 billion (latest figures available), a 5.1 percent increase from 2018. The largest outward direct investment of a South African company was a gas liquefaction plant in the State of Louisiana by Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and NASDAQ dual-listed petrochemical company SASOL. There are some restrictions on outward investment, such as a R1 billion (USD 83 million) limit per year on outward flows per company. Larger investments must be approved by the South African Reserve Bank and at least 10 percent of the foreign target entities’ voting rights must be obtained through the investment. https://www.resbank.co.za/RegulationAndSupervision/FinancialSurveillanceAndExchangeControl/FAQs/Pages/Corporates.aspx 3. Legal Regime Transparency of the Regulatory System South African laws and regulations are generally published in draft form for stakeholder comment. However, foreign stakeholders have expressed concern over the adequacy of notice and the government’s willingness to address comments. Legal, regulatory, and accounting systems are generally transparent and consistent with international norms. The DTIC is responsible for business-related regulations. It develops and reviews regulatory systems in the areas of competition, standards, consumer protection, company and intellectual property registration and protections, as well as other subjects in the public interest. It also oversees the work of national and provincial regulatory agencies mandated to assist the DTIC in creating and managing competitive and socially responsible business and consumer regulations. The DTIC publishes a list of Bills and Acts that govern its work at: http://www.theDTIC.gov.za/legislation/legislation-and-business-regulation/?hilite=%27IDZ%27 South Africa’s Consumer Protection Act (2008) reinforces various consumer rights, including right of product choice, right to fair contract terms, and right of product quality. The law’s impact varies by industry, and businesses have adjusted their operations accordingly. A brochure summarizing the Consumer Protection Act can be found at: http://www.theDTIC.gov.za/wp-content/uploads/CP_Brochure.pdf . Similarly, the National Credit Act of 2005 aims to promote a fair and non-discriminatory marketplace for access to consumer credit and for that purpose to provide the general regulation of consumer credit and improves standards of consumer information. A brochure summarizing the National Credit Act can be found at: http://www.theDTIC.gov.za/wp-content/uploads/NCA_Brochure.pdf International Regulatory Considerations South Africa is a member of the African Continental Free Trade Area, which commenced trading in January 2021. It is a signatory to the SADC-EAC-COMESA Tripartite FTA and a member of the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU), which has a common external tariff and tariff-free trade between its five members (South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, and Eswatini, formerly known as Swaziland). South Africa has free trade agreements with the Southern African Development Community (SADC); the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) between South Africa and the European Union (EU); the EFTA-SACU Free Trade Agreement between SACU and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland; and the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between the SADC EPA States (South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Eswatini, Lesotho, and Mozambique) and the EU and its Member States. SACU and Mozambique (SACUM) and the United Kington (UK) signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) in September 2019. South Africa is a member of the WTO. While it notifies some draft technical regulations to the Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), it is often after implementation. In November 2017, South Africa ratified the WTO’s Trade Facilitation Agreement, implementing many of its commitments, including some Category B notifications. The South African Government is not party to the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement (GPA). Legal System and Judicial Independence South Africa has a strong legal system composed of civil law inherited from the Dutch, common law inherited from the British, and African customary law. Generally, South Africa follows English law in criminal and civil procedure, company law, constitutional law, and the law of evidence, but follows Roman-Dutch common law in contract law, law of delict (torts), law of persons, and family law. South African company law regulates corporations, including external companies, non-profit, and for-profit companies (including state-owned enterprises). Funded by the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, South Africa has district and magistrate courts across 350 districts and high courts for each of the provinces. Cases from Limpopo and Mpumalanga are heard in Gauteng. The Supreme Court of Appeals hears appeals, and its decisions may only be overruled by the Constitutional Court. South Africa has multiple specialized courts, including the Competition Appeal Court, Electoral Court, Land Claims Court, the Labor and Labor Appeal Courts, and Tax Courts to handle disputes between taxpayers and SARS. Rulings are subject to the same appeals process as other courts. Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment The February 2019 ratification of the Competition Amendment Bill (CAB) introduced, among other revisions, section 18A that mandates the President create an as-of-yet-unestablished committee comprised of 28 Ministers and officials chosen by the President to evaluate and intervene in a merger or acquisition by a foreign acquiring firm on the basis of protecting national security interests. The law also states that the President must identify and publish in the Gazette, the South African equivalent of the U.S. Federal Register, a list of national security interests including the markets, industries, goods or services, sectors or regions for mergers involving a foreign acquiring firm. Competition and Antitrust Laws The Competition Commission, separate from the above committee, is empowered to investigate, control, and evaluate restrictive business practices, abuse of dominant positions, and review mergers to achieve equity and efficiency. Its public website is www.compcom.co.za . The Competition Tribunal has jurisdiction throughout South Africa and adjudicates competition matters in accordance with the CAB. While the Commission is the investigation and enforcement agency, the Tribunal is the adjudicative body, very much like a court. Expropriation and Compensation Racially discriminatory property laws and land allocations during the colonial and apartheid periods resulted in highly distorted patterns of land ownership and property distribution in South Africa. Given land reform’s slow and mixed success, the National Assembly (Parliament) passed a motion in February 2018 to investigate amending the constitution (specifically Section 25, the “property clause”) to allow for land expropriation without compensation (EWC). Some politicians, think-tanks, and academics argue that Section 25 already allows for EWC in certain cases, while others insist that amendments are required to implement EWC more broadly. Parliament tasked an ad hoc Constitutional Review Committee composed of parliamentarians from various political parties to report back on whether to amend the constitution to allow EWC, and if so, how it should be done. In December 2018, the National Assembly adopted the committee’s report recommending a constitutional amendment. Following elections in May 2019 the new Parliament created an ad hoc Committee to Initiate and Introduce Legislation to Amend Section 25 of the Constitution. The Committee drafted constitutional amendment language explicitly allowing for EWC and accepted public comments on the draft language through March 2021. Parliament awaits the committee’s submission after granting a series of extensions to complete its work. Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds parliamentary majority (267 votes) to pass, as well as the support of six out of the nine provinces in the National Council of Provinces. Because no single political party holds such a majority, a two-third vote can only be achieved with the support of two or more political parties. Academics foresee EWC test cases in the next year primarily targeted at abandoned buildings in urban areas, informal settlements in peri-urban areas, and property with labor tenants in rural areas. In October 2020, the Government of South Africa also published a draft expropriation bill in its Gazette, which would introduce the EWC concept into its legal system. The application of the draft’s provisions could conflict with South Africa’s commitments to international investors under its remaining investment protection treaties as well as its obligations under customary international law. Submissions closed in February 2021. Existing expropriation law, including The Expropriation Act of 1975 (Act) and the Expropriation Act Amendment of 1992, entitles the government to expropriate private property for reasons of public necessity or utility. The decision is an administrative one. Compensation should be the fair market value of the property as agreed between the buyer and seller, or determined by the court per Section 25 of the Constitution. In 2018, the government operationalized the 2014 Property Valuation Act that creates the office of Valuer-General charged with the valuation of property that has been identified for land reform or acquisition or disposal. The Act gives the government the option to expropriate property based on a formulation in the Constitution termed “just and equitable compensation.” The Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act 28 of 2002 (MPRDA), enacted in 2004, gave the state ownership of South Africa’s mineral and petroleum resources. It replaced private ownership with a system of licenses controlled by the government and issued by the Department of Mineral Resources. Under the MPRDA, investors who held pre-existing rights were granted the opportunity to apply for licenses, provided they met the licensing criteria, including the achievement of certain B-BBEE objectives. Parliament passed amendment to the MPRDA in 2014 but the President never signed them. In August 2018, the Minister for the Department of Mineral Resources, Gwede Mantashe, called for the recall of the amendments so that oil and gas could be separated out into a new bill. He also announced the B-BBEE provisions in the new Mining Charter would not apply during exploration but would start once commodities were found and mining commenced. In November 2019, the newly merged Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) published draft regulations to the MPRDA. In December 2019, the DMRE published the Draft Upstream Petroleum Resources Development Bill for public comment. Parliament continues to review this legislation. Oil and gas exploration and production is currently regulated under the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act, 2002 (MPRDA), but the new Bill will repeal and replace the relevant sections pertaining to upstream petroleum activities in the MPRDA. Dispute Settlement ICSID Convention and New York Convention South Africa is a member of the New York Convention of 1958 on the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitration awards as implemented through the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards Act, No. 40 of 1977 . It is not a member of the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States or the World Bank’s International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes. Investor-State Dispute Settlement The 2015 Promotion of Investment Act removes the option for investor state dispute settlement through international courts typically afforded through bilateral investment treaties (BITs). Instead, investors disputing an action taken by the South African government must request the DTIC to facilitate the resolution by appointing a mediator. A foreign investor may also approach any competent court, independent tribunal, or statutory body within South Africa for the resolution of the dispute. Dispute resolution can be a time-intensive process in South Africa. If the matter is urgent, and the presiding judge agrees, an interim decision can be taken within days while the appeal process can take months or years. If the matter is a dispute of law and is not urgent, it may proceed by application or motion to be solved within months. Where there is a dispute of fact, the matter is referred to trial, which may take several years so there is a growing preference for Alternative Dispute Resolution. International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts The Arbitration Act of 1965, which does not distinguish between domestic and international arbitration and is not based on UNCITRAL model law, governs arbitration in South Africa. South African courts retain discretion to hear a dispute over a contract using the law of a foreign jurisdiction. However, the South African court will interpret the contract with the law of the country or jurisdiction provided for in the contract. South Africa recognizes the International Chamber of Commerce, which supervises the resolution of transnational commercial disputes. It applies commercial and bankruptcy laws with consistency and has an independent, objective court system for enforcing property and contractual rights. Alternative Dispute Resolution is increasingly popular in South Africa for many reasons, including the confidentiality which can be imposed on the evidence, case documents, and the judgment. South Africa’s new Companies Act also provides a mechanism for Alternative Dispute Resolution. Bankruptcy Regulations South Africa’s bankruptcy regime grants many rights to debtors, including rejection of overly burdensome contracts, avoiding preferential transactions, and the ability to obtain credit during insolvency proceedings. South Africa ranks 68 out of 190 countries for resolving insolvency according to the 2020 World Bank Doing Business report, a drop from its 2019 ranking of 65. 5. Protection of Property Rights Real Property The South African legal system protects and facilitates the acquisition and disposition of all property rights (e.g., land, buildings, and mortgages). Deeds must be registered at the Deeds Office. Banks usually register mortgages as security when providing finance for the purchase of property. Foreigners may purchase and own immovable property in South Africa without any restrictions, as foreigners are generally subject to the same laws as South African nationals. Foreign companies and trusts are also permitted to own property in South Africa if they are registered in South Africa as an external company. South Africa ranks 108 of 190 countries in registering property according to the 2020 World Bank Doing Business report. Intellectual Property Rights South Africa enforces intellectual property rights through civil and criminal procedures. It is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and in the process of acceding to the Madrid Protocol. For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ . It is also a signatory to the WTO’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Agreement (TRIPS). Owners of patents and trademarks may license them locally, but when a patent license entails the payment of royalties to a non-resident licensor, the DTIC must approve the royalty agreement. Patents are granted for twenty years, usually with no option to renew. Trademarks are valid for an initial period of ten years, renewable for ten-year periods. A patent or trademark holder pays an annual fee to preserve ownership rights. All agreements relating to payment for applicable rights are subject to SARB approval. A royalty of up to four percent is the standard for consumer goods and up to six percent for intermediate and finished capital goods. Literary, musical, and artistic works, as well as cinematographic films and sound recordings, are eligible for protection under the Copyright Act of 1978. New designs may be registered under the Designs Act of 1967, which grants copyrights for five years. The Counterfeit Goods Act of 1997 provides additional protection to owners of trademarks, copyrights, and certain marks under the Merchandise Marks Act of 1941. The Intellectual Property Laws Amendment Act of 1997 amended the Merchandise Marks Act of 1941, the Performers’ Protection Act of 1967, the Patents Act of 1978, the Copyright Act of 1978, the Trademarks Act of 1993, and the Designs Act of 1993 to bring South African intellectual property legislation into line with TRIPS. To modernize its IPR regime further, the DTIC introduced the Copyright Amendment Bill (CB) and the Performers’ Protection Amendment Bill (PPA). The controversial bills remain under Parliamentary review after being returned by the President in June 2020 on constitutional grounds. Stakeholders have raised several concerns, including the CB bill’s application of “fair use,” and clauses in both bills that allow the DTIC Minister to set royalty rates for visual artistic work or equitable renumeration for direct or indirect uses of copyrighted works. Additional changes to South Africa’s IPR regime are under consideration through a draft DTIC policy document, Phase 1 of the Intellectual Property Policy of the Republic of South Africa. 10. Political and Security Environment South Africa has strong institutions and is relatively stable, but it also has a history of politically motivated violence and civil disturbance. Violent protests against the lack of effective government service delivery are common. Killings of, and by, mostly low-level political and organized crime rivals occur regularly. In May 2018, President Ramaphosa set up an inter-ministerial committee in the security cluster to serve as a national task force on political killings. The task force includes the Police Minister‚ State Security Minister‚ Justice Minister‚ National Prosecuting Authority, and the National Police Commissioner. The task force ordered multiple arrests, including of high-profile officials, in what appears to be a crackdown on political killings. Criminal threats and labor-related unrest have impacted U.S. companies in the past.