Mauritius

Executive Summary

Mauritius is an island nation with a population of 1.3 million people.  The Government of Mauritius (GoM) claims an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of approximately 2.3 million square kilometers. Mauritius has a stable and competitive economy, with a gross domestic product (GDP) of USD 14.22 billion (2018) and per capita gross national income (GNI) of USD 12,050 in 2018.  According to the International Monetary Fund, real GDP growth for 2019 is estimated at 4 percent and projected to fall to negative 6.8 percent in 2020 due to the Covid-19 effect on the global economy.  The inflation rate decreased from 3.2 percent in 2018 to 0.5 per cent in 2019.  The unemployment rate decreased from 6.9 percent in 2018 to 6.7 percent at the end of 2019.  According to the World Bank’s 2020 Ease of Doing Business Index, Mauritius ranks first in Africa and 13th worldwide, out of 190 countries.

Since achieving independence in 1968, Mauritius has made a remarkable economic transformation from a mono-crop economy (sugarcane) to a diversified economy driven by export-oriented manufacturing (mainly textiles), tourism, financial and business services, information and communication technology, seafood processing, real estate, and education/training.  Before Covid-19, authorities planned to stimulate economic growth in five areas:  Serving as a gateway for investment into Africa, increasing the use of renewable energy, developing smart cities, growing the blue economy, and modernizing infrastructure, especially public transportation, the port, and the airport.  But 2020 will, like most countries, focus on rebuilding existing sectors whose customers disappeared due to the pandemic.  Economists predicted that tourism and manufactured exports would be the hardest hit sectors.

Government policy in Mauritius seeks to promote trade and investment.  The GoM has signed Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements with 46 countries and jurisdictions and maintains a legal and regulatory framework that keeps Mauritius highly ranked on “Ease of Doing Business” and good governance indices.  In recent years, Mauritius has been especially intent on attracting foreign direct investment from emerging economies like China and India, as well as courting more traditional markets like the United Kingdom, France and the United States. The GoM, which is currently finalizing bilateral trade agreements with both India and China, promotes Mauritius as a safe, secure place to do business due to its favorable investment climate and tradition as a stable democracy. Corruption in Mauritius is low by regional standards but there remains room for improvement improve in terms of transparency and accountability.  A recent commercial dispute between a U.S. investor and a parastatal partner that has turned into a criminal investigation, for instance, has raised questions of governmental impartiality.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2019 52 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2020 13 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/
en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2019 82 of 126 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2018 9,544 https://apps.bea.gov/international/
factsheet/factsheet.cfm
World Bank GNI per capita 2018 12,050 http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/
NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

Mauritius actively seeks foreign investment.  The Investment Office (formerly the Board of Investment) of the Economic Development Board (EDB) is the single-gateway government agency responsible for promoting investment in Mauritius, and for helping guide investors through the country’s legal and regulatory requirements.

According to a number of surveys and metrics, Mauritius is among the freest and most business-friendly countries in Africa.  The 2020 Index of Economic Freedom, published by the Heritage Foundation, ranks Mauritius first in the Sub-Saharan Africa region among 43 countries and 21st globally.  For the 12th consecutive year, the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business report ranked Mauritius first among African economies, and 13th worldwide, in terms of overall ease of doing business.

There is no formal ongoing dialogue with investors.  However, one-to-one meetings are usually held with investors while the government prepares its annual budget.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

A non-citizen can hold, purchase, or acquire real property under the Non-Citizens (Property Restriction) Act, or NCPRA, subject to government approval.  A foreigner can acquire residential property and apartments under the government-regulated Property Development Scheme (PDS) http://www.edbmauritius.org/schemes/property-development-scheme .  The NCPRA was amended in December 2016 to allow foreigners to purchase certain types of properties, as long as the amount paid is over six million Mauritian rupees (approximately USD 172,000).  A non-citizen is eligible for a residence permit upon the purchase of a house under the PDS if the investment made is more than USD 500,000. More information is available at http://dha.pmo.govmu.org/English/Mandate/Pages/Non-Citizens-Property-Restriction.aspx.  

Regarding business activities, the GoM generally does not discriminate between local and foreign investment.  There are, however, some business activities where foreign involvement is restricted.  These include television broadcasting, sugar production, newspaper or magazine publishing, and certain operations in the tourism sector.

In 2019, the Independent Broadcasting Authority (IBA) Act was amended to increase the allowable equity participation of a foreign company investing in broadcasting to 49.9 percent from 20 percent.  Similarly, control by foreign nationals in broadcasting was limited to 49.9 percent.   Furthermore, a foreign investor cannot hold 20 percent or more of a company that owns or controls any newspaper or magazine, or any printing press publishing such publications.  The IBA Act can be accessed via http://www.iba.mu/legal.htm.  

In the sugar sector, no foreign investor is allowed to make an investment that would result in 15 percent or more of the voting capital of a Mauritian sugar company being held by foreign investors.  More information can be accessed at https://www.stockexchangeofmauritius.com/media/2124/securities-investment-by-foreign-investors-rules-2013.pdf.  

In the tourism sector, there are conditions on investment by non-citizens in guesthouse/tourist accommodation, pleasure crafts, scuba diving, and tour operators.  Generally, the limitations refer to a minimum investment amount, number of rooms, or a maximum equity participation, depending on the business activity.  Details of the restrictions can be accessed via http://www.tourismauthority.mu/en/licence-categories-11/tourist-accommodation-certificate-30.html.  

In the construction sector, foreign consultants or contractors are required to register with the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB).  Details on registration procedures are available at https://www.cidb.mu/registration/contractors .

The Investment Office of the EDB screens foreign investment proposals and provides a range of services to potential investors.  The EDB is a useful resource for investors exploring business opportunities in Mauritius and provides assistance with occupation permits, licenses, and clearances by coordinating with relevant local authorities.  In 2019, U.S. Embassy Port Louis did not receive negative comments from U.S. businesses regarding the fairness of the government’s investment screening mechanisms.

The Investment Office of the EDB reviews proposals for economic benefit, environmental impact, and national security concerns.  EDB then advises the potential investor on specific permits or licenses required, depending on the nature of the business.  Foreign investors can also apply through the EDB for necessary permits.  In the event an investment fails review, the prospective investor may appeal the decision within the EDB or to the relevant government ministry.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

Mauritius’ most recent third-party investment policy reviews through multilateral organizations were completed in 2014.  In June 2014, the GoM conducted an investment policy review with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).  The review can be accessed via http://www.oecd.org/daf/inv/investment-policy/mauritius-investment-policy.htm .  The review concluded that, while policies and legislation in Mauritius support private sector development, incentive schemes tend to bias investment towards real estate and property development.  In October 2014, the GoM also conducted a trade policy review with the World Trade Organization (WTO), which can be accessed at https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp404_e.htm .  A new trade policy review was expected to start in May 2020.

Business Facilitation

The GoM recognizes the importance of a good business environment to attract investment and achieve a higher growth rate.  In 2019, the Business Facilitation (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act entered into force.  The main reforms brought about by this legislation were expediting trade fee payments, reviewing procedures for construction permits, reviewing fire safety compliance requirements, streamlining of business licenses, and implementing numerous trade facilitation measures.  The act can be accessed at https://www.edbmauritius.org/resources/legislations.  

The incorporation of companies and registration of business activities falls under the provisions of The Companies Act of 2001  and The Business Registration Act of 2002 .  All businesses must register with the Registrar of Companies.  As a general rule, a company incorporated in Mauritius can be 100 percent foreign-owned with no minimum capital.  According to the World Bank 2020 Doing Business report, while the procedures for registering a company takes less than a day, actually starting a business takes between four and five days.

After the Registrar of Companies issues a certificate of incorporation, foreign-owned companies must register their business activities with the EDB.  The company can then apply for occupation permits (work and residence permits) and incentives offered to investors.  EDB’s investment facilitation services are available to all investors, domestic and foreign.

In partnership with the Corporate and Business Registration Department (a division of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development), the Mauritius Network Services (MNS) has implemented the Companies and Business Registration Integrated System, a web-based portal that allows electronic submission for incorporation of companies and application for the Business Registration Number, file statutory returns, pay yearly fees, register businesses, and search for business information.  Applicants can register with MNS at https://portalmns.mu/cbris.   In March 2019, the National Electronic Licensing System (NELS), which is co-financed by the European Union, was officially launched.  NELS is a single point of entry for the processing of permits and licenses needed to start and operate a business.  It can be accessed at https://business.edbmauritius.org .

Outward Investment

The GoM imposes no restrictions on capital outflows.  Due to the small size of the Mauritian economy, the government encourages Mauritian entrepreneurs to invest overseas, particularly in Africa, to expand and grow their businesses.  As part of its Africa Strategy, the government has established the Mauritius Africa Fund:  a public company with USD 13.8 million capitalization to support Mauritian investment in Africa.  Through the Fund, the government participates as an equity partner up to 10 percent of the seed capital invested by Mauritian investors in projects targeted towards Africa.  The government has signed agreements with Senegal, Madagascar, and Ghana establishing and managing Special Economic Zones (SEZ) in these countries and has invited local and international firms to set up operations in the SEZs.  As per the 2018 Finance Act, Mauritian companies collaborating with the Mauritius-Africa Fund for development of infrastructure in the SEZs benefit from a five-year tax holiday.  To further facilitate investment, Mauritius has also signed Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements and Double Taxation Avoidance Agreements with African states.

Since 2012, the Board of Investment (now restructured as the Investment Office of the EDB) has been operating an Africa Center of Excellence, a special office dedicated to facilitating investment from Mauritius into Africa.  It acts as a repository of business information for Mauritian entrepreneurs about investment opportunities in different sectors in Africa.

In 2018, the most recent year for which the Central Bank of Mauritius has published data, gross direct investment flows abroad (excluding the global business sector) amounted to USD 106 million.  The top three sectors for outward investment were manufacturing (38 percent), finance and insurance activities (30 percent), and accommodation and food service activities (10 percent).  Investment abroad was mainly geared toward developing countries, and Africa was the biggest recipient region of foreign direct investment, amounting to USD 44 million.  Kenya was the top recipient country with USD 31 million. Data on outward investment can be obtained at https://www.bom.mu/publications-and-statistics/statistics/external-sector-statistics/direct-investment-flows .

3. Legal Regime

Transparency of the Regulatory System

Since 2006, the GoM has reformed trade, investment, tariffs, and income tax regulations to simplify the framework for doing business.  Trade licenses and many other bureaucratic hurdles have been reduced or abolished.  With a well-developed legal and commercial infrastructure and a tradition that combines entrepreneurship and representative democracy, Mauritius is one of Africa’s most successful economies.  Business Mauritius, the coordinating body of the Mauritian private sector, participates in discussions with and presents papers to government authorities on laws and regulations affecting the private sector.

Regulatory agencies do not request comments on proposed bills from the general public.  Both the notice of the introduction of a government bill and a copy of the bill are distributed to every member of the Legislative Assembly and published in the Government Gazette before enactment.  Bills with a “certificate of urgency” can be enacted with summary process.  All proposed regulations are published on the Legislative Assembly’s website, which is publicly accessible via http://mauritiusassembly.govmu.org/English/bills/Pages/default.aspx.  

Companies in Mauritius are regulated by the Companies Act of 2001, which incorporates international best practices and promotes accountability, openness, and fairness.  To combat corruption, money laundering and terrorist financing, the government also enacted the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, and the Financial Intelligence and Anti-Money Laundering Act.  While Mauritius does not have a freedom of information act, members of the public may request information by contacting the permanent secretary of the relevant ministry.

Budget documents, including the executive budget proposal, enacted budget, and end-of-year report, are publicly available and provide a substantially full picture of Mauritius’ planned expenditures and revenue streams.  Information on debt obligations is also at http://mof.govmu.org/English/Public%20Debt/Pages/Debt-Data.aspx .

International Regulatory Considerations

Mauritius is a member of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).  It is a signatory to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which entered into force in May 2019, and the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area.  As at April 2020, the Tripartite FTA has yet to enter into force.  The GoM implements its commitments to these regional economic institutions with domestic legal and regulatory adjustments, as appropriate.

Mauritius has been a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 1995.  The GoM reports that they notify all draft technical regulations to the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade to the extent possible.  In July 2014, Mauritius notified its category A commitments to the WTO, among the first African countries to do so.  Mauritius was the fourth country to submit its instrument of acceptance for the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA).  In 2019, Mauritius notified its category B and C commitments and their corresponding dates of implementation.

Of TFA’s 36 measures, Mauritius has classified 27 as category A, five as B, and four as C.  Discussions with donors to obtain technical assistance to finance trade facilitation projects listed under category C are ongoing and Mauritius secured assistance from the World Bank and the World Customs Organization.

To coordinate efforts to implement the TFA, in 2015 Mauritius set up a National Committee on Trade Facilitation, co-chaired by representatives from government and the private sector.  Members include Customs, the Ministry of Agro-Industry and Food Security, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, and the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry.  The committee has met 10 times since.  Discussion topics include identification of sources of financing for category C commitments and resolution of non-tariff barriers in Mauritius.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

Mauritius draws legal principles from both French civil law and British common law traditions.  Its procedures are largely derived from the English system, while its substance is based on the Napoleonic Code of 1804.  Commercial and contractual law is also based on the civil code.  However, some specialized areas of law are comparable to other jurisdictions.  For example, its company law is practically identical to that of New Zealand.  Mauritian courts often resolve legal disputes by drawing on current legislation, the local legal tradition, and by means of a comparative approach utilizing various legal systems.  The highest court of appeal is the judicial committee of the Privy Council of England.  Mauritius is a member of the International Court of Justice.  Mauritius established a Commercial Court in 2009 to expedite the settlement of commercial disputes.

Contracts are legally enforceable and binding.  Ownership of property is enforced with the registration of the title deed with the Registrar-General and payment of the registration duty.  Mauritian courts have jurisdiction to hear intellectual property claims, both civil and criminal.  The judiciary is independent and the domestic legal system is generally non-discriminatory and transparent.  The Embassy is not aware of any recent cases of government or other interference in the court system affecting foreign investors.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

The 2017 Economic Development Board Act governs investment in Mauritius, while the 2001 Companies Act contains the regulations governing incorporation of businesses.  The Corporate and Business Registration Department (CBRD) of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development administers the 2001 Companies Act, the 2002 Business Registration Act, the 2009 Insolvency Act, the 2011 Limited Partnerships Act, and the 2012 Foundations Act.  Information regarding the various acts can be accessed via the CBRD’s website: http://companies.govmu.org/English/Legislation/Pages/default.aspx  

All laws and regulations related to foreign investment can be found on the EDB’s website: http://www.edbmauritius.org/resources/legislations/ .

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

The Competition Commission of Mauritius (CCM) is an independent statutory body established in 2009 to enforce the Competition Act of 2007.  It is mandated to safeguard competition by preventing and remedying anti-competitive business practices in Mauritius.  Anti-competitive business practices, also called restrictive business practices, may be in the form of cartels, abuse of monopoly situations, and mergers that reduce competition.

The institutional design of the CCM houses both an adjudicative and an investigative organ under one body.  While the Executive Director has power to investigate restrictive business practices (the Investigative Arm), the Commissioners determine the cases (the Adjudicative Arm) on the basis of reports from the Executive Director.

Since it began operations, the CCM has undertaken 54 investigations, of which 44 have been completed and 10 are ongoing as of May 2020.  To date, the CCM has conducted 266 enquiries, which are preliminary research exercises prior to proceeding to investigations.  The results of completed investigations are available on the CCM’s website:  http://www.ccm.mu.  

Since 2018, the CCM has initiated a process to review and amend the Competition Act of 2007 to enable more effective enforcement.  The process was expected to be completed in 2020.

Expropriation and Compensation

The Constitution includes a guarantee against nationalization. However, in 2015, the government passed the Insurance (Amendment) Act to enable the Financial Services Commission (FSC) to appoint special administrators in cases where there is evidence that the liabilities of an insurer and its related companies exceed assets by 1 billion rupees (approximately USD 26 million) and that such a situation “is likely to jeopardize the stability and soundness of the financial system of Mauritius.”  The special administrators are empowered to seize and sell assets.  The government enacted this law in the immediate aftermath of the financial scandal explained below.

In April 2015, the Bank of Mauritius, the central bank, revoked the banking license of Bramer Bank, the banking arm of Mauritian conglomerate British American Investment (BAI) Group, citing an inadequate capital reserve ratio.  As a result, Bramer Bank entered receivership and by May 2015 the receiver had transferred the assets and liabilities of Bramer Bank to a newly created state-owned bank, the National Commercial Bank Ltd., thus effectively nationalizing Bramer Bank.  In January 2016, the Mauritian government merged the National Commercial Bank Ltd. with another government-owned bank resulting in Maubank, a new bank dedicated mainly to servicing small- and medium-sized enterprises.  The GoM owns over 99 percent of Maubank shares.  Efforts to privatize the bank in 2018 did not produce any results.

The government likewise took over much of Bramer’s parent, the BAI Group.  The FSC placed the BAI Group in conservatorship, alleging fraud and corporate mismanagement in BAI’s insurance business.  Following passage of the Insurance (Amendment) Act in 2015, the FSC created the National Insurance Company, which took over the BAI Group’s core insurance business, and the National Property Fund, which took over other BAI Group assets, including a hospital and several retail outlets.  CIEL Healthcare, a local private company, bought the hospital in 2017.

In 2015, BAI’s former chairman filed a dispute against the GoM with the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), alleging that the government illegally appropriated BAI’s assets.  The former chairman, who is a Mauritian-French dual national, claimed that Mauritius had breached the Mauritius-France bilateral investment treaty and requested the restitution of his assets and payment of compensation.  The tribunal concluded that it lacked jurisdiction over the dispute and ruled in favor of the GoM.  The former chairman has appealed this decision.  In May 2019, the former chairman filed a case in the Supreme Court to challenge the appointment of the liquidator for the Bramer Banking Group.

Dispute Settlement

Mauritius is a member of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes and a signatory to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards Act.  Mauritius is also a member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency of the World Bank.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

Mauritius does not have a bilateral investment treaty or free trade agreement with the United States.

The embassy is aware of a dispute between a U.S. company that operates in Mauritius and a parastatal partner.  After an apparent commercial impasse, in early 2020 the parastatal filed a criminal complaint against the CEO of the U.S. company, who is a U.S. citizen.  The accused, whom police did not take into custody but forbade to leave the country pending investigation, alleged that the parastatal filed the complaint to gain leverage in the commercial dispute.

As explained above, the former chairman of BAI, a dual French-Mauritian national, filed a dispute against the government of Mauritius with UNCITRAL alleging that the government illegally appropriated BAI’s assets.  The tribunal ruled in favor of the government and the former chairman has appealed.

In 2017, the Supreme Court rendered a judgment in a major unfair competition case lodged in 2005 by Emtel Ltd., a local telecommunications firm, against Mauritius Telecom, a parastatal entity, and the former regulator Telecommunications Authority.  Emtel was engaged in a joint venture with U.S. majority-owned Millicom Enterprises, but Emtel bought all the shares of Millicom in 2014.  The court awarded over USD 16 million in damages to Emtel.

A Malaysian power company, CT Power, is challenging the government’s decision to cancel a proposed energy project, which they had been negotiating with the previous government. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of CT Power in July 2016.  The Ministry of Energy and Public Utilities, supported by the Central Electricity Board, appealed to the Privy Council, which overturned the ruling in June 2019.

Another dispute involves local company Betamax against the State Trading Corporation (STC) for breach of contract.  In 2009, Betamax received a long-term contract with a previous government for the transportation of petroleum products from an oil refinery in India to Mauritius.  A different government elected in 2014 tried at first to negotiate Betamax out of the transportation contract on the grounds that the contract had been awarded unlawfully.  After negotiations failed, the government decided to rescind the contract.  Betamax took the case to the Singapore International Arbitration Center (SIAC).  In 2017, SIAC decided in favor of Betamax and ordered the STC to pay approximately USD 133 million in damages to Betamax for breach of contract.  STC petitioned the Supreme Court of Mauritius to set aside the verdict, which it did in May 2019, concluding that the contract violated local procurement regulations and public policy.  In June 2019, Betamax appealed to the Privy Council, which has not yet heard the appeal.

The Association des Hoteliers et Restaurateurs of Mauritius (AHRIM), which promotes the interests of hotels and restaurants in Mauritius, has challenged the GoM’s issuance of an environmental impact assessment license to Growfish International Ltd., a company involved in aquaculture.  AHRIM is concerned about the impact the fish farm can have on tourism and the marine environment.  Growfish is a company incorporated in Mauritius and financed by investors from South Africa and Norway.  In April 2019, the tribunal ruled in favor of AHRIM.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

In 2011, the GoM, the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), and the Mauritius International Arbitration Center (MIAC) established a new arbitration center in Mauritius called the LCIA-MIAC Arbitration Center.  LCIA-MIAC offered all services offered by the LCIA in the United Kingdom.  In July 2018, the LCIA and GoM terminated the partnership, after which the MIAC began operating as an independent organization.  The organization’s website is http://miac.mu.  

Additionally, the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s (MCCI) Arbitration and Mediation Center (MARC) was established in 1996 as an initiative of the MCCI to provide the business community with alternative forms of dispute resolution using internationally accepted arbitration and mediation standards.  More information is available at https://www.marc.mu/en.  

As mentioned above, state-owned STC asked a Mauritian court to set aside a decision by the Singapore International Arbitration Center.  The court ruled in favor of the STC.  The plaintiff has appealed to the Privy Council.

Bankruptcy Regulations

Bankruptcy is not criminalized in Mauritius.  The 2009 Insolvency Act amended and consolidated the law relating to insolvency of individuals and companies and the distribution of assets in the case of insolvency and related matters.  Most notably, the act introduced administration procedures, providing creditors the option of a more orderly reorganization or restructuring of a business than in liquidation.  A bankrupt individual is automatically discharged from bankruptcy three years after adjudication, but may apply to be discharged earlier.  The act draws on the Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency adopted by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law in 1997.  The act can be found  at https://www.fscmauritius.org/media/1155/insolvency-act-2009-130114.pdf.   

In April 2020, the Insolvency (Administration) (Equal Treatment to Classes of Creditors) Regulations were issued to ensure equal treatment to creditors classified in the same category.  The regulations can be accessed at https://bit.ly/2WwTIev .  According to the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business report, Mauritius ranked 28th out of 190 countries in terms of resolving insolvency.

4. Industrial Policies

Investment Incentives

Mauritius applies investment incentives uniformly to both domestic and foreign investors.  The incentives are outlined in the Income Tax Act, the Customs Act, and the Value Added Tax Act.  In the 2018-2019 national budget, a number of incentives were implemented to attract investors to Mauritius.  These include: (i) reduced corporate tax rate of three percent for companies engaged in global trading activities; (ii) investment tax credit of five percent over three years on the cost of new plant and machinery excluding motor vehicles; (iii) five year tax holiday for Mauritian companies collaborating with the Mauritius Africa Fund with respect to investment in the development of infrastructure in Special Economic Zones, and; (iv) five year tax holiday on income derived from smart parking solutions or other green initiatives.

Mauritius offers prospective investors a low-tax jurisdiction and a number of other fiscal incentives, including the following: (i) flat corporate and income tax rate of 15 percent; (ii) 100 percent foreign ownership permitted; (iii) no minimum foreign capital required; (iv) no tax on dividends or capital gains; (v) free repatriation of profits, dividends, and capital; (vi) accelerated depreciation on acquisition of plant, machinery, and equipment; (vii) exemption from customs duty on imported equipment; and (viii) access to an extensive network of double taxation avoidance treaties.

Additionally, the government has established a Property Development Scheme (PDS) to attract high net worth non-citizens who want to acquire residences in Mauritius.  Buyers of a residential unit valued over USD 500,000 in certain projects are eligible to apply for a residence permit in Mauritius.  The residential unit can be leased or rented out by the owner.  More details on the PDS and other investment schemes are available via http://www.edbmauritius.org/schemes.  

The Regulatory Sandbox License (RSL), announced in the 2016-2017 national budget, is intended to promote innovation by eliminating barriers to investment in cutting-edge technology.  An RSL gives an investor fast-track authorization to conduct business activity in a sector even if there is not yet a legal or regulatory framework in place for the sector.  Further details on the RSL can be accessed via http://www.edbmauritius.org/schemes/regulatory-sandbox-license/ .

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

The Mauritius Freeport, a free trade zone, was established in 1992 and is a customs-free zone for goods destined for re-export.  The Freeport has grown dramatically in its 26-year history:  Developed space has increased from 5,000 square meters in 1993 to over 300,000 square meters in 2018.  The government’s objective is to promote the country as a regional warehousing, distribution, marketing, and logistics center for eastern and southern Africa and the Indian Ocean rim.  Through its membership in COMESA, SADC, and the IOC, Mauritius offers preferential access to a market of over 600 million consumers, representing an import potential of USD 100 billion.  Companies operating in the Freeport are exempt from corporate tax.  Foreign-owned firms operating in the Freeport have the same investment incentives and opportunities as local entities.

Activities carried out in the Freeport include warehousing and storage, breaking bulk, sorting, grading, cleaning and mixing, labeling, packing, repacking and repackaging, minor processing and light assembly, manufacturing activity, ship building, repairs and maintenance of ships, aircrafts, and heavy-duty equipment, storage, maintenance and repairs of empty containers, export-oriented seaport and airport based activities, freight forwarding services, quality control and inspection services, and vault activity for storing precious stones and metals, works of art, and the like.  Approximately 3,800 people are employed at the Freeport.

In 2019, trade value at the Freeport was 29.7 billion rupees (approximately USD 825 million) and volume was 517,000 metric tons.  This is a decrease from 2018, when trade value was 44 billion rupees and volume was 542,000 metric tons.  Top trading partners for import in 2019 were the United Kingdom, India, Taiwan, Malaysia, and China.  Top trading partners for export in 2019 were Reunion (France), South Africa, Kenya, Seychelles, and United Arab Emirates.  Top goods traded through the Freeport included mineral products, live animals, foodstuffs and beverages, and plastic and metal products.

Per the 2019 Finance Act, a Freeport operator engaged in manufacturing inside the Freeport is allowed to apply as a private Freeport developer to build, develop, and manage its own infrastructural activities, provided that it carries out the same manufacturing activity.  A Freeport operator or private Freeport developer engaged in the manufacture of goods pays a 3 percent tax rate on profits derived from the sale of goods on the local market.

Existing manufacturing companies with a Freeport certificate must employ a minimum of five employees and incur an annual expenditure exceeding 3.5 million rupees (USD 880,000).  Freeport operators must pay Corporate Social Responsibility tax on the sale of goods on the local market.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

The GoM does not impose local employment requirements on foreign investors.  A foreign national can apply for an Occupation Permit (OP), which is a combined work and residence permit, subject to certain conditions such as minimum investment, salary, and/or business turnover.  The OP allows foreign nationals to work and reside in Mauritius under three specific categories, namely: (i) investor, (ii) professional, or (iii) self-employed.  Also, foreign nationals above the age of 50 years may choose to retire in Mauritius under a Residence Permit (RP).  An OP or an RP is issued for a maximum period of three years and the permit holder may submit a new application upon expiry of the permit.  Dependents of an OP or RP holder may also apply for residence permits for a duration not exceeding that of the OP or RP holder.  Details on the minimum investment, salary, and turnover amounts required to qualify for an OP or RP are available via http://www.edbmauritius.org/work-and-live-in-mauritius/occupation-permitresidence-permit.  

The 2017 Data Protection Act (DPA) is the law that governs the protection of personal data in Mauritius.  Effective January 15, 2018, the DPA aimed to align with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).  The GoM established the Data Protection Office (http://dataprotection.govmu.org/English/Pages/default.aspx ) in 2009.  The Data Protection Commissioner is responsible for upholding the rights of individuals set forth in the DPA and for enforcing the obligations imposed on data controllers and processors.

In 2016, Mauritius ratified the Council of Europe’s Convention for Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data (Convention 108).  Mauritius is the second non-European country and the first African country to sign the convention.  The agreement gives individuals the right to protection of their personal data.  The Ministry of Information Technology, Communication and Innovation has started the ratification process of Convention 108 with the Council of Europe.

Mauritius’ DPA applies only when processing of personal data is concerned.  Failure to comply with Section 28 of the DPA, which establishes the lawful purposes for which personal data may be processed, can result in a fine and up to five years imprisonment.  Section 29 sets requirements for processing special categories of data, such as ethnic origin, political adherence, and mental health condition.

There are no enforcement procedures for investment performance requirements.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Real property rights are respected in Mauritius.  A non-citizen can hold, purchase, or acquire immovable property under the Non-Citizens (Property Restriction) Act, subject to the government’s approval.  Ownership of property is memorialized with the registration of the title deed with the Registrar-General and payment of the registration duty.  The recording system of mortgages and liens is reliable.  Traditional use rights are not an issue in Mauritius as there were no indigenous peoples present at the time of European colonization.  According to the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business Report, Mauritius ranks 23rd out of 190 countries for the ease of registering property.

Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual property rights (IPR) in Mauritius are protected by two pieces of legislation, namely     the 2014 Copyrights Act and the 2019 Industrial Property Act of 2019.  In August 2019, the new Industrial Property bill was enacted. (http://www.mauritiustrade.mu/ressources/pdf/industrial-property-act-2019.pdf)  It consolidates different elements of industrial property (patents, utility models, layout-designs of integrated circuits, breeder’s rights, industrial designs, marks, trade names, and geographical indications).  The 2019 act also makes provisions for Mauritius to adhere to treaties that the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) administers,, such as the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) for the international registration of patents, the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs, and the Madrid Protocol to facilitate the registration of trademarks.

In 2017, the Copyright Act was amended to redefine and better safeguard the interests of copyright owners and to put in place a new regulatory framework for the Mauritius Society of Authors (MASA).  MASA is responsible for collection of copyright fees and for administering the economic rights of copyright owners.  Amendments to the Copyright Act can be accessed on the Supreme Court website: https://supremecourt.govmu.org/_layouts/CLIS.DMS/Legislations/SearchLegislations.aspx.  

Mauritius is a member of WIPO and party to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, and the Universal Copyright Convention.  The Industrial Property Act complies with the WTO’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).  A trademark is initially registered for 10 years and may be renewed for another 10 years.  A patent expires 20 years after the application filing date.

While IPR legislation in Mauritius is consistent with international norms, enforcement is relatively weak. According to a leading IPR law firm, police will normally only take action against IPR infringement in cases where the rights-holder has an official representative in Mauritius because the courts require a representative to testify that the products seized are counterfeit.

The Customs Department of the Mauritius Revenue Authority is the primary agency responsible for safeguarding Mauritian borders against counterfeit goods and piracy.  The Customs Department requires owners or authorized users of patents, industrial designs, collective marks, marks, or copyrights to apply in writing to the Director General to suspend clearance of goods suspected of infringing intellectual property rights.  Once an application is approved, it remains valid for two years.  There are no administrative costs to pay for an application.  An application can also be filed as a preventive measure.  Further details on the documents required to apply can be found at  https://www.mra.mu/download/BrochureIPR.pdf.  

Customs may act upon its own initiative to suspend clearance if there is evidence of IPR infringement..  Customs will then contact the owner or authorized user for follow-up actions.  IPR owners  are recommended to join the World Customs Organization’s Interface Public-Members tool, which allows Customs officers to access operational data input by rights holders concerning their products, thus facilitating the identification of counterfeit goods.

The Customs Department keeps a record of counterfeit goods seized.  Customs has authority to seize and destroy counterfeit goods.  In 2019, the Customs Department carried out seizures of a total of 261,267 goods valued at USD 2.3 million. The infringing party is responsible for paying for the storage and/or destruction of the counterfeit goods.

Mauritius is not listed in the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or the Notorious Market List.

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at https://www.wipo.int/directory/en/details.jsp?country_code=MU 

Embassy Contact for IPR:

Smita Bheenick
Economic/Commercial Section
U.S. Embassy Port Louis, Mauritius
Tel: +230 202 4430; Fax: +230 208 9534
Email:bheenicks@state.gov

Some IPR Law Firms in Mauritius:

Law firms are listed for convenience and should not be taken to imply U.S. government endorsement.

Sanjeev Ghurburrun
Director, Geroudis
27-29, Dr. Lesur Street
Beau Bassin, Mauritius
Tel: +230 210 3838; Fax: + 230 210 3912
sanjeev@geroudis.com 
www.geroudis.com 

Marc Hein
Chairman, Juristconsult Chambers (DLA Piper Africa)
Level 12 Nexteracom Tower II, Ebene Cyber City
Ebene, Mauritius
Tel: +230 465 0020; Fax: +230 465 0021
mhein@juristconsult.com
www.juristconsult.com

Michael Hough
CEO, Eversheds Sutherland
Suite 310, 3rd Floor Barkly Wharf, Le Caudan Waterfront
Port Louis, Mauritius
Tel: +230 211 0550; fax: +230 211 0780
Email: michaelhough@eversheds-sutherland.mu
https://www.eversheds-sutherland.com/global/en/where/africa/mauritius/offices/index.page 

6. Financial Sector

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

The GoM welcomes foreign portfolio investment.  The Stock Exchange of Mauritius (SEM) was opened to foreign investors following the lifting of foreign exchange controls in 1994.  Foreign investors do not need approval to trade shares, except for when doing so would result in their holding more than 15 percent in a sugar company, a rule detailed in the Securities (Investment by Foreign Investors) Rules of 2013.  Incentives to foreign investors include no restrictions on the repatriation of revenue from the sale of shares and exemption from tax on dividends for all resident companies and for capital gains of shares held for more than six months.

The SEM currently operates two markets:  the Official Market and the Development and Enterprise Market (DEM).  As of December 2019, the shares of 62 companies (local, global business, and foreign companies) were listed on the Official Market, representing a market capitalization of USD 9.8 billion.  Unique in Africa, the SEM can list, trade, and settle equity and debt products in U.S. dollars, euros, pounds sterling, South African rand, as well as Mauritian rupees.  A variety of new asset classes of securities such as global funds, depositary receipts, mineral companies, and specialist securities including exchange-traded funds and structured products have also been introduced on the SEM.  The DEM was launched in 2006 and the shares of 37 companies are currently listed on this market with a market capitalization of USD 1.4 billion.  Foreign investors accounted for 39.5 percent of trading volume on the exchange for the financial year 2018-2019.  Standard & Poor’s, Morgan Stanley, Dow Jones, and FTSE have included the Mauritius stock market in a number of their stock indices.  Since 2005, the SEM has been a member of the World Federation of Exchanges.  The SEM is also a partner exchange of the Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative.  In 2018, in line with its strategy to digitalize its investor services, SEM launched the mySEM mobile application.

The government respects IMF Article VIII by refraining from restrictions on payments and transfers for current international transactions.  A variety of credit instruments is available to local and foreign investors through the banking system.

Money and Banking System

Mauritius has a sophisticated banking sector.  As of April 2020, 20 banks are licensed to undertake banking business, of which five are local banks, nine are foreign-owned subsidiaries, one is a joint venture, four are branches of foreign banks, and one is licensed as a private bank.  One bank conducts solely Islamic banking.  Further details can be obtained at https://www.bom.mu/financial-stability/supervision/licensees/list-of-licensees .  On April 1, 2020, the Bank of Mauritius appointed a conservator for BanyanTree Bank.  Details were scarce, but the law allows the central bank to appoint a conservator to protect the bank’s assets.

According to the Banking Act of 2004, all banks are free to conduct business in all currencies.  There are also six non-bank deposit-taking institutions, as well as 12 money changers and foreign exchange dealers.  There are no official government restrictions on foreigners opening bank accounts in Mauritius, but banks may require letters of reference or proof of residence for their due diligence.  The Bank of Mauritius, the country’s central bank, carries out the supervision and regulation of banks as well as non-bank financial institutions authorized to accept deposits.  The Bank of Mauritius has endorsed the Core Principles for Effective Banking Supervision as set out by the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.

The banking system is dominated by two long-established domestic entities:  the Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) and the State Bank of Mauritius (SBM), which together constitute about 60 percent of the total domestic market.  Maubank, the third-largest bank in the country, became operational in 2016 following a merger between the Mauritius Post & Cooperative Bank and the National Commercial Bank.  The Bank of China started operations in Mauritius in 2016.  Other foreign banks present in Mauritius include HSBC, Barclays Bank, Bank of Baroda, Habib Bank, BCP Bank (Mauritius), Standard Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, State Bank of India, and Investec Bank.  As of February 2020, commercial banks’ total assets amounted to USD 41.7 billion.

According to the Bank of Mauritius 2019 Annual Report, the banking sector remained healthy with an average capital adequacy ratio of 19 percent as of June 2019.  Banks’ asset quality was unchanged from end-June 2018 to end-June 2019 and is generally considered to be sound.  Non-performing loans as a ratio to total outstanding loans stood at 5.5 per cent in June 2019.

In July 2017, the Banking Act was amended to double the minimum capital requirement to USD 11.2 million from USD 5.8 million.  The Central Bank began reporting the liquidity coverage ratio in 2017 to improve the liquidity profile of banks and their ability to withstand potential liquidity disruptions.  The latest International Monetary Fund Article IV report highlights that banks have increased exposure to the region and that the Bank of Mauritius has strengthened cross-border supervision and cooperation with foreign regulators.  The IMF report also recommends that additional steps be taken to strengthen financial stability, including lowering the high non-performing loans stock through a more stringent approach to writing-off legacy exposures, and by safeguarding the longer-term forex funding needs stemming from banks’ swift expansion abroad.

The Covid-19 crisis is expected to heavily impact banks’ profitability due to increased defaults and delayed loan repayments.  As part of its Covid-19 response, the Bank of Mauritius has made USD 132 million available through commercial banks as special relief funds to help meet cash flow and working capital requirements.  The cash reserve ratio applicable to commercial banks was reduced from 9 percent to 8 percent.  The Bank of Mauritius also put on hold the Guideline on Credit Impairment Measurement and Income Recognition, which was effective since January 2020.

In July 2019, the Bank of Mauritius Act was amended to allow the Bank of Mauritius to use special reserve funds in exceptional circumstances and with approval of the central bank’s board for the repayment of central government external debt obligations, provided that repayments would not adversely affect the bank’s operations.  This provision was used in January 2020 to repay government debt worth USD 450 million, raising concerns about the central bank’s independence.

Most major banks in Mauritius have correspondent banking relationships with large banks overseas.  In recent years, according to industry experts, no banks have lost correspondent banking relationships and none report being in jeopardy of doing so as of April 2020.

In January 2019, the Central Bank signed a memorandum of cooperation with the Mauritius Police Force on financial crimes and illicit activities relating to the financial services sector.  In February 2020, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) named Mauritius as a jurisdiction under increased monitoring, commonly known as the Grey List.  At that time, Mauritius made a high-level political commitment to work with the FATF and the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG) to strengthen the effectiveness of its AML/CFT regime.  Since the completion of its Mutual Evaluation Report in 2018, Mauritius has made progress on a number of its recommended actions to improve technical compliance and effectiveness, including amending the legal framework to require legal persons and legal arrangements to disclose of beneficial ownership information and improving the processes of identifying and confiscating proceeds of crimes.  Mauritius is working to implement its action plan, including (i) demonstrating that the supervisors of its global business sector and Designated Non-Financial Businesses and Professions implement risk-based supervision; (ii) ensuring the access to accurate basic and beneficial ownership information by competent authorities in a timely manner; (iii) demonstrating that law enforcement agencies have capacity to conduct money laundering investigations, including parallel financial investigations and complex cases; (iv) implementing a risk based approach for supervision of its non-profit sector to prevent abuse for terrorism financing purposes, and (v) demonstrating the adequate implementation of targeted financial sanctions through outreach and supervision.

In May 2020, the European Commission added Mauritius to its list of AML-CTF high-risk jurisdictions, pending approval from the European Council and European Parliament, and not to take effect until October 2020.

In February 2018, the Fintech and Innovation-driven Financial Services (FIFS) Regulatory Committee held its first meeting at the Financial Services Commission, the regulator for the non-banking financial services, to assess the regulatory framework concerning FIFS regulations in Mauritius and to identify priority areas within the regulatory space of fintech activities.  In May 2018, the Committee submitted recommendations for regulating the fintech sector to authorities.  A National Regulatory Sandbox License (RSL) Committee was set up to assess all fintech applications requiring a sandbox license for business activities without an existing legal framework.  Guidelines to apply to the RSL for fintech projects can be found at https://www.edbmauritius.org/opportunities/financial-services/fs-fintech-and-innovation.    

Effective March 2019, the Financial Services Commission allows businesses that provide custodial services for digital assets.  According the Bank of Mauritius 2019 Annual Report, the FIFS committee has initiated work on approaches to regulate Fintech tools such as artificial intelligence, big data, distributed ledger technologies, and biometrics.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange 

The government of Mauritius abolished foreign exchange controls in 1994.  Consequently, no approval is required for converting, transferring, or repatriating profits, dividends, or capital gains earned by a foreign investor in Mauritius.  Funds associated with any form of investment can be freely converted into any world currency.

The exchange rate is generally market-determined, though the Bank of Mauritius, the central bank, occasionally intervenes.  Between January 2019 and December 2019, the Mauritian rupee depreciated against the U.S. dollar by 6.4 percent, the pound by 8.3 percent, and the euro by 3.6 percent.  Due to the Covid-19 crisis, the Bank of Mauritius intervened regularly on the domestic foreign exchange market in early 2020.

Remittance Policies

There are no time or quantity limits on remittance of capital, profits, dividends, and capital gains earned by a foreign investor in Mauritius.  Mauritius has a well-developed and modern banking system.  There is no legal parallel market in Mauritius for investment remittances.  The Embassy is unaware of any proposed changes by the government to its investment remittance policies.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

The government of Mauritius does not have a Sovereign Wealth Fund.

7. State-Owned Enterprises

The government’s stated policy is to act as a facilitator to business, leaving production to the private sector.  The government, however, still controls key services directly or through parastatal companies in the power and water, television broadcasting, and postal service sectors.  The complete list of SOEs can be found at https://www.icac.mu/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/The-Declaration-of-Assets-Stated-owned-Enterprises.pdf.   

The government also holds controlling shares in the State Bank of Mauritius, Air Mauritius (the national airline), and Mauritius Telecom.  These state-controlled companies have Boards of Directors on which seats are allocated to senior government officials.  The government nominates the chairperson and CEO of each of these companies.  In April 2020, Air Mauritius requested voluntary administration, similar to Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States, because it could not comply with financial obligations.

The government also invests in a wide variety of Mauritian businesses through its investment arm, the State Investment Corporation.  The government is also the owner of Maubank and the National Insurance Company.

Two parastatal entities are involved in the importation of agricultural products:  the Agricultural Marketing Board (AMB) and the State Trading Corporation (STC).  The AMB’s role is to ensure that the supply of certain basic food products is constant and their prices remain affordable.  The STC is the only authorized importer of petroleum products, liquefied petroleum gas, and flour.  SOEs purchase from or supply goods and services to private sector and foreign firms through tenders.

Audited accounts of SOEs are published in their annual reports.  Mauritius is part of the OECD network on corporate governance of state-owned enterprises in southern Africa.

Privatization Program

The government has no specific privatization program.  In 2017, however, as part of its broader water reform efforts, the government agreed to a World Bank recommendation to appoint a private operator to maintain and operate the country’s potable water distribution system.  Under the World Bank’s proposed public-private partnership, the Central Water Authority (CWA) would continue to own distribution and supply assets, and will be responsible for business planning, setting tariffs, capital expenditure, and monitoring and enforcing the private operator’s performance.

In March 2018, despite protest by trade unions and consumer associations, the Minister of Energy and Public Utilities reiterated his intention to engage by the end of the year a private operator as a strategic partner to take over the water distribution services of the CWA.  To date, this has not materialized.  The government has said for years it planned to sell control of Maubank, into which it has injected about USD 173 million since it nationalized the bank in 2015.  In the 2019-2020 budget speech, the prime minister said the government would sell non-strategic assets to reduce government debt.  His office never identified a list of assets, but in parliament the prime minister has mentioned Maubank, the National Insurance Company, and Casinos of Mauritius as possible divestments.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The National Committee for Corporate Governance (NCCG) was established under Section 63 of the Financial Reporting Act (2004) and is the coordinating body responsible for all matters pertaining to corporate governance in Mauritius. The purpose of the Committee is to: (i) establish principles and practices of corporate governance; (ii) promote the highest standards of corporate governance; (iii) promote public awareness about corporate governance principles and practices; and (iv) act as the national coordinating body responsible for all matters pertaining to corporate governance.  The latest Code of Corporate Governance for Mauritius (2016) was launched on February 13, 2017, and can be accessed at http://www.miod.mu/info-centre/new-code-of-corporate-governance-for-mauritius-2016 . The Financial Reporting Council (FRC), also set up under the Financial Reporting Act (2004), aims to advocate for the provision of high-quality reporting of financial and non-financial information by public interest entities and to improve the quality of accountancy and audit service.

The Ministry of Financial Services and Good Governance was established following the December 2014 elections.  Its mandate is to provide guidance and support for enforcement of good governance and the eradication of corruption.  The Mauritius Institute of Directors (MIoD) is an independent, private sector-led organization that also promotes high standards and best practices of corporate governance, with additional information available at http://www.miod.mu.  

In 2017, the government set up a National Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Foundation, which operated under the Ministry of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment.  In 2019, this foundation became the National Social Inclusion Foundation (NSIF).  The NSIF is managed by a council consisting of members from the private and public sectors, civil society, and academia.  Under the 2016 Finance Act, every company registered in Mauritius must set up a CSR fund and contribute each year the equivalent of 2 percent of its taxable income from of the previous year.  In 2017 and 2018, companies were required to remit at least 50 percent of their CSR funds to tax authorities for the National CSR Foundation.  The required contribution increased in 2019 to 75 percent.  The NSIF is supposed to channel the money to NGO projects in priority areas identified by the government.  These priority areas are poverty alleviation, educational support, social housing, family protection, people with severe disabilities, and victims of substance abuse.  Further details can be found on the NSIF website: https://www.nsif.mu.

9. Corruption

The prevalence of corruption in Mauritius is low by regional standards, but graft and nepotism nevertheless remain concerns and are increasingly a source of public frustration. Several high-profile cases involving corruption have reinforced the perception that corruption exists at the highest political levels, despite the fact that Mauritian law provides for criminal penalties for corruption by officials.  A former prime minister was arrested in 2015 on allegations of money laundering although courts have since dismissed all charges.  The state prosecutors appealed the last dismissal in late 2019 and the appeal is pending.  A minister in the previous government had to step down in 2016 on allegations of bribery.  In March 2017, allegations surfaced concerning possible political interference in the Financial Services Commission’s issuance of an investment banking license to an Angolann billionaire, who is being investigated for alleged corruption in Portugal.  In March 2018, the president of Mauritius resigned after press reported that she bought apparel, jewelry, and a laptop computer with a credit card provided by an NGO financed by the same Angolan businessman.

Investors should know that while the constitution and law require arrest warrants to be based on sufficient evidence and issued by a magistrate, police may detain an individual for up to 21 days under a “provisional charge” based on a reasonable suspicion, with the concurrence of a magistrate.  Two French businessmen claimed that in February 2015 authorities held them against their will.  A U.S. investor has been unable to leave Mauritius since February 1, 2020, without charges filed against him.

In 2002, the government adopted the Prevention of Corruption Act, which led to the establishment of an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC).  ICAC has the power to investigate corruption and money laundering offenses and can also seize the proceeds of corruption and money laundering.  The Director of ICAC is nominated by the prime minister.  The Good Governance and Integrity Reporting Act of 2015 was announced as a measure to recover “unexplained wealth” and came into force in early 2016.  Critics of the act dislike its presumption of guilt, requiring the accused to demonstrate a lawful source of questionable assets, as well as the application of the law retroactively for seven years. The 2018 Declaration of Assets Act (DoA) entered into force in June 2019 and defines which public officials are required to declare assets and liabilities to the ICAC.  These public officials include members of the National Assembly, mayors, chairpersons and chief executive officers of state-owned enterprises and statutory bodies, among others.

Mauritius is the 52nd least-corrupt nation out of 175 countries, according to the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International, up from 51st in 2018 and down from 54th in 2017.  However, Mauritius retained its first rank in overall governance in Africa for the 12th consecutive year, according to the 2018 Ibrahim Index of African Governance.

Although Mauritius’ generally positive reputation for transparency and accountability has been hurt by some high-profile scandals.  U.S. investors, in conversations with embassy personnel, have not identified corruption as an obstacle to investment in the country.  They have, however, encountered attempts for bribery.

Resources to Report Corruption:

Navin Beekharry
Director-General
Independent Commission Against Corruption
Reduit Triangle, Moka, Mauritius
+230 402 6600
icacoffice@intnet.mu

Contact at watchdog organization:

Rajen Bablee
Director
Transparency Mauritius
4th Floor, Fon Sing Building, 12 Edith Cavell Street, Port Louis, Mauritius
+ 230 213 0796
transparency.mauritius@gmail.com

10. Political and Security Environment

Mauritius has a long tradition of political and social stability.  Civil unrest and political violence are uncommon.  Free and fair national elections are held every five years with the last general elections held in November 2019.  Those most recent elections took place without incident.  The incumbent prime minister, who as finance minister in January 2017 was appointed prime minister when his father resigned (in accordance with the constitution), won the elections.

Crime rates are low but petty and violent crime can occur.  Visitors should keep track of their belongings at all times due to the potential for pick-pocketing and purse-snatching, especially in crowded and tourist areas.  Visitors should also avoid walking alone, particularly on isolated beaches and at night, and should avoid demonstrations.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

According to the Mauritian government, total employment stood at 551,300 in 2019, an increase from 543,700 in 2018.  The unemployment rate decreased to 6.7 percent in 2019 from 6.9 percent in 2018, with a high jobless rate among youth and women.  In the fourth quarter of 2019, the youth unemployment rate was 23 percent, and 62 percent of the total 37,900 unemployed people were women.

The labor market remains restricted by rising unemployment among graduates and low-skilled workers, and a high number of unemployed women.  It is further characterized by a persistent mismatch between qualifications of the unemployed and the skills required in an increasingly services-oriented economy.  Government labor market programs aimed at building human capital have been extended, with policies to develop skills of the unemployed focusing on apprenticeships and placements.  In November 2016, the government introduced the National Skills Development Program (NSDP), a fully-funded  technical training program for youth, which was still running as of April 2020.  The NSDP is managed by the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC), which operates under the Ministry of Education and is responsible for promoting the development of the labor force in Mauritius.  The HRDC, with technical and financial support from the French development agency, is also devising a National Skills Development Strategy (NSDS) for 2020-2024.  The aim of the NSDS is to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of skills development programs.  In 2018, the government introduced the SME Employment Scheme, which allows SMEs to employ recent graduates and the government pays the graduates a monthly stipend for one year.  In 2019, the government opened the scheme to diploma holders as well.

In 2017, the National Assembly passed the National Employment Act.  The object of the act was to repeal the Employment and Training Act and introduce a modern legislative framework.  The act provides the labor market with information on supply and demand of skills, job seekers, and training institutions; promotes placement and training of job seekers, including young persons and persons with disabilities; and promotes labor migration and home-based work.  In November 2017, the Equal Opportunities Act was amended to protect prospective employees with criminal records from discrimination when being considered for recruitment or promotion.

In 2018, the government introduced a minimum monthly wage of 9,000 Mauritian rupees (approximately USD 255) for all workers, affecting over 100,000 low-paid workers.  In November 2019, the cabinet, following a recommendation from the National Wage Consultative Council, increased the  minimum wage again to 10,200 rupees (USD 284), effective January 2020.  Workers’ rights are protected under the 2019 Workers’ Rights Act, taking effect in January 2020.  The legislation provides for a portable retirement gratuity fund, fair compensation in case of termination, harmonization of working conditions in different sectors, the flexibility to request the right to work from home either on a full- or part-time basis, and equal remuneration for equal work, among others.  The act also adds to the Equal Opportunities Act through several measures against discrimination in employment and occupation.

Trade unions are independent of government and employers.  Mauritius has an active trade union movement, representing about 25 percent of the workforce, and labor-management relations are generally positive.  A list of trade unions is available at http://labour.govmu.org/English/Publications/Pages/Reports-and-publications.aspx .  The last major strike affecting the economy took place in 1979.  The government generally seeks to avoid strikes through a system that promotes settlement through negotiation or arbitration by the Employment Relations Tribunal and the National Remuneration Board.  Mauritius participates actively in the annual International Labor Organization (ILO) conference in Geneva, Switzerland, and adheres to ILO core conventions protecting workers’ rights.

12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Other Investment Insurance Programs

In December 1997, Mauritius signed an investment incentive agreement with OPIC: https://www.state.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/12912-Mauritius-Finance-Guarantees-12.15.1997.pdf.  Mauritius, being classified as an upper-middle income country, is not a priority for DFC programs, but may be considered for programs that address key agency priorities.   Mauritius is also a member of the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency.  Countries with significant government-financed investment in Mauritius include India, France, and China.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) 2018 13,930 2018  14, 220 www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A 2018 9,544 https://apps.bea.gov/international/
factsheet/factsheet.cfm
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A 2018  552  https://apps.bea.gov/international/
factsheet/factsheet.cfm
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A 2018 37.2% https://unctad.org/en/Pages/DIAE/
World%20Investment%20Report/
Country-Fact-Sheets.aspx
 

*Source: National Accounts 2018, Statistics Mauritius, http://statsmauritius.govmu.org/English/StatsbySubj/Documents/Digest/National%20Accounts/Digest_NA_Yr18.pdf 

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data (2018)
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward 333,504 100% Total Outward 283,106 100%
United States 65,988 20% India 125,951 44%
Cayman Islands 44,868 13% Singapore 22,294 8%
Singapore 26,454 8% United Kingdom 21,197 7%
India 25,598 8% South Africa 8,216 3%
South Africa 16,774 5% Netherlands 7,917 3%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.
Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment
Portfolio Investment Assets (June 2019)
Top Five Partners (Millions, US dollars)
Total Equity Securities Total Debt Securities
All Countries 139,124 100% All Countries 116,533 100% All Countries 22,591 100%
India 93,602 67% India 89,000 76% United Kingdom 10,593 47%
United Kingdom 11,899 9% Hong Kong 5,937 5% India 4,602 20%
United States 7,387 5% United States 3,928 3% United States 3,460 15%
Hong Kong 5,977 4% Singapore 3,176 3% Not specified (confidential) 617 3%
Singapore 3,364 2% Cayman Islands 2,958 3% Switzerland 471 2%

14. Contact for More Information

Smita Bheenick
Economic/Commercial Section
U.S. Embassy Port Louis, Mauritius
Tel: +230 202 4430; Fax: +230 208 9534
Email: bheenicks@state.gov

Mozambique

Executive Summary

Mozambique stands on the cusp of transformative economic growth driven by the development of one the largest natural gas discoveries in the world. In the next five years, Mozambique expects to see nearly $60 billion in investment to develop its offshore natural gas reserves and an onshore facility that will convert the gas to liquefied natural gas (LNG) for export to global markets. However, between the combination of the outbreak of COVID-19, an increasingly violent extremist movement in northern Mozambique, and the impact of the global downturn on Mozambique’s resource dependent economy, the start of that transformation is likely to be delayed.

Following three years of slow economic growth, driven by a combination of the lingering impacts of Mozambique’s 2016 hidden debt crisis and the back to back devastating cyclones in 2019, 2020 was supposed to be Mozambique’s breakout year. Throughout 2019 Mozambique made important strides toward realizing its potential.

In June 2019, Anadarko made the Final Investment Decision (FID) on the first of two expected LNG megaprojects. However, nearly a year later, the LNG site (now run by Total) is the center of Mozambique’s COVID-19 outbreak and the violent extremists in the surrounding province have grown in size and effectiveness, declaring themselves an affiliate of the Islamic State and conducting increased attacks throughout the province. Against this backdrop, ExxonMobil, the co-lead of the second major LNG project in northern Mozambique announced in April 2020 that it would delay FID on its project until at least 2021 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global commodity prices.

Despite these setbacks, however, there are still reasons for optimism about Mozambique’s mid- term outlook. Following three years of reforms since the hidden debt scandal, Mozambique has made progress in the fight against corruption. Since February 2019, it arrested more than 20 politically connected officials for their role in the scandal and in August 2019, the country adopted a 27 point plan to fight corruption and improve governance with the IMF. Thanks in part to this solid progress, the IMF and Mozambique entered into discussions to re-launch a new lending program, potentially the first non-emergency budgetary assistance to the government in four years. If Mozambique continues on this path of reform, it will be better placed to manage its eventual resource income and attract other investments.

The country has also made significant progress toward consolidating the peace process. In August 2019, the government and the main opposition party signed a ceasefire agreement and peace accord, bringing to an end years of sporadic conflict. These agreements also set the stage for national elections in October 2019 that brought President Nyusi back to power for a second five-year mandate. Despite credible allegations of significant election-related fraud and intimidation, President Nyusi and the opposition leader Ossufo Momade continue to work together to consolidate the peace agreement finalize the disarmament, demobilization, and reintegration of former opposition movement fighters.

As Mozambique looks to its future, U.S. businesses are poised to play a key role in this country’s transformation. In June 2019, Mozambique signed a commercial Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Commerce, outlining five key areas for investment including energy, infrastructure, financial services, agri-business, tourism and fisheries, opening the door to increased cooperation and U.S. investment. In December, the U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation also announced that Mozambique was eligible to develop a second compact. While still under development, this compact will make available $350 million or more in targeted development assistance to create the enabling environment for additional investments.

Mozambique offers the experienced investor the potential for high returns, but remains a challenging place to do business. While the country welcomes foreign investment, investors must factor in corruption, an underdeveloped financial system, poor infrastructure, and significant operating costs. Transportation inside the country is slow and expensive, while bureaucracy, port inefficiencies, and corruption complicate imports. Local labor laws remain an impediment to hiring foreign workers, even when domestic labor lacks the requisite skills. In addition to the LNG and associated industries there are also significant opportunities for investment in the power and infrastructure sectors, particularly related to the reconstruction after Cyclones Idai and Kenneth devastated large swaths of the country in March and April 2019. The agriculture and tourism sectors remain underdeveloped relative to their potential, as do critical services sectors, such as health care.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2019 146 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 138 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2019 119 of 129 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2018 USD 332.0 million https://apps.bea.gov/
international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2018 USD 460 million http://data.worldbank.org/
indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

The government of Mozambique welcomes foreign investment and sees it as a key driver of economic growth and job creation. With the exception of a few sectors related to national security, all business sectors are open to foreign investment.

Mozambique’s Law on Investment, Decree No. 3/93, passed in 1993, and its related regulations, govern national and foreign investment. In August 2009, Decree No. 43/2009 replaced earlier amendments from 1993 and 1995, providing new regulations to the Investment Law. In general, large investors receive more support from the government than small and medium-sized investors. Government authorities must approve all foreign and domestic investment requiring guarantees and incentives. Regulations for the Code of Fiscal Benefits were established by Decree No. 56/2009 and approved in October 2009. The Code of Fiscal Benefits, Law No. 4/2009, passed in January 2009, can be found at: http://investmentpolicyhub.unctad.org/InvestmentLaws/laws/110 .

The Agency for Promotion of Investments and Exports (APIEX, Agencia para a Promocao de Investimentos e Exportacoes) is the primary investor contact within the GRM, operating under the Ministry of Industry and Commerce. Its objective is to promote and facilitate private and public investment. It also oversees the promotion of national exports. APIEX can assist with administrative, financial, and property issues. Through APIEX, investors can receive exemptions from some customs and value-added tax (VAT) duties when importing “class K” equipment, which includes capital investments.

Contact information for APIEX is:

Agency for Promotion of Investments and Exports
http://www.apiex.gov.mz/ 
Rua da Imprensa, 332 (ground floor)
Tel: (+258) 21313310
Ahmed Sekou Toure Ave., 2539
Telephone: (+258) 21 321291
Mobile: (+258 ) 823056432

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Mozambique investment law and its regulations generally do not distinguish between investor origin or limit foreign ownership or control of companies. With the exception of security, safety, media, entertainment, and certain game hunting concessions, there were no legal requirements that Mozambican citizens own shares of foreign investments until 2011.

Law No. 15/2011, passed in August 2011 and often referred to as the “Mega-Projects Law,” governs public-private partnerships, largescale ventures, and major business concessions. It states that Mozambican persons must hold between 5 percent to 20 percent of the equity capital of the project company. Implementing regulations were approved by the Council of Ministers in June 2012.

Article 4.1 in Law 14/2014, often referred to as the “Petroleum Law,” states that the GRM regulates the exploration, research, production, transportation, trade, refinery, and transformation of liquid hydrocarbons and their by-products, including petrochemical activities. Article 4.6 established the state-owned oil company, the National Hydrocarbon Company (ENH, Empresa National das Hidorcorbonetos) as the government’s exclusive representative for investment and participation in oil and gas projects. ENH typically owns up to 15 percent of shares in oil and gas projects in the country.

Depending on the size of the investment, the government approves both domestic and foreign investments at the provincial or national level–there is no other formal investment screening process.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

Mozambique has undergone investment policy reviews by the following international organizations:

OECD Investment Policy Review (2013)
http://www.oecd.org/daf/inv/investment-policy/mozambique-investment-policy.htm 

WTO Trade Policy review – Report by the Secretariat – Mozambique – Revision (2017) https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp454_e.htm 

UNCTAD Investment Policy Review (2012) http://unctad.org/en/pages/PublicationWebflyer.aspx?publicationid=222 

Business Facilitation

APIEX promotes and facilitates investment in Mozambique. It provides multiple services to investors including: incorporation, business licensing, entrance visas, work permits, residence permits, identification and licensing of land, identification of business partners, troubleshooting, project monitoring, and implementation follow-up.

Lengthy registration procedures can be problematic for any investor – national or foreign – but those unfamiliar with Mozambique and the Portuguese language face greater challenges. Some foreign investors find it beneficial to work with a local equity partner familiar with the bureaucracy at the national, provincial, and district levels.

In 2019, Mozambique ranked 135 among 190 countries in the World Bank Doing Business report. Mozambique performs slightly better than the sub-Saharan average for the ease of doing business but below peers such as Botswana and South Africa in the Southern African region. Mozambique ranks 174 out of 190 countries in how easy it is to start a business, taking 17 days to complete the process, requiring 10 procedures, and costing 120 percent of the per capita income. The report also indicates that access to credit and enforcing contracts are comparatively more challenging in Mozambique than most countries. The GRM has made improvements in areas such as getting construction permits and electricity.

Outward Investment

The government does not promote or incentivize outward investment. It also does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad. The law does request that domestic investors remit investment income from overseas, except for amounts required to pay debts, taxes, or other expenses abroad.

3. Legal Regime

Transparency of the Regulatory System

Investors face myriad requirements for permits, approvals, and clearances that take substantial time and effort to obtain. The difficulty of navigating the system provides opportunities for corruption and bribery, a scenario that is aggravated by the prevailing low wages for administrative clerks. Labor, health, safety, and environmental regulations often go unenforced, or are selectively enforced. In addition, civil servants have threatened to enforce antiquated regulations that remain on the books to obtain favors or bribes.

The private sector, through the Confederation of Business Associations (CTA, Confederacao das Associacoes Economicas), Mozambique’s primary business and industry association, maintains an ongoing dialogue with the government, holding quarterly meetings with the Prime Minister and an annual meeting with the President. CTA provides feedback to the GRM on laws and regulations that impact the business environment on behalf of its members and other business associations. However, because of its exclusive role in communicating with the government on behalf of the private sector, some businesses have expressed concern that minority voices are not heard and that CTA, because of its close relationship with the government, is no longer an effective advocate.

Draft bills are usually made available for public comments through the business associations or relevant sectors or in public meetings. Changes to laws and regulations are published in the National Gazette. Public comments are usually limited to input from a few private sector organizations, such as CTA. There have been complaints of short comment periods and that comments are not properly reflected in the National Gazette. The government is considering a law that would make public consultation on future legislation mandatory.

Overall fiscal transparency in Mozambique is improving gradually in the wake of the 2016 hidden debt crisis which saw the government own up to contracting around $2 billion dollars in secret loans in 2013 and 2014. Publicly available budget documents provide an incomplete picture of the government’s planned expenditures and revenue streams, especially with regard to natural resource revenues and allocations to and earnings from state-owned enterprises, which generally did not have publicly available audited financial statements. The government also maintains off-budget accounts not subject to adequate audit or oversight. For portions of the budget that were relatively complete, the provided information is generally reliable.

International Regulatory Considerations

Mozambique is a member of SADC (Southern African Development Community). In June 2016, the SADC EPA Group, which includes Mozambique, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, and Swaziland, signed an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union. Mozambique exports aluminum under the EPA agreement.

The GRM ratified the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in July 2016 and notified the WTO in January 2017. A National Trade Facilitation Committee was established to coordinate the implementation of the TFA.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

Mozambique’s legal system is based on Portuguese civil law and customary law. In December 2005, the Parliament approved major revisions to the Commercial Code which went into effect in 2006. The previous Commercial Code was from the colonial period, with clauses dating back to the 19th century, and it did not provide an effective basis for modern commerce or resolution of commercial disputes. In 2018, the Council of Ministers passed new provisions for the Commercial Code, which were debated and approved in Parliament. In recent years Mozambique’s legal system has shown a degree of greater independence, for example pursuing some politically connected former officials and their family members for their role in the hidden debt scandal.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

The Code of Fiscal Benefits, Law No. 4/2009, passed in January 2009, and Decree No. 56/2009, approved in October 2009, form the legal basis for foreign direct investment in Mozambique. Operating within these regulations, APIEX (http://invest.apiex.gov.mz/ ) analyzes the fiscal and customs incentives available for a particular investment.  Investors must establish foreign business representation and acquire a commercial representation license. During project development, investors must document their community consultation efforts related to the project. If the investment requires the use of land, the investor will also have to present, among other documents, a topographic plan or an outline of the site where the project will be developed.

If the investment involves an area under 1,000 hectares and the investment is up to approximately $25 million, the governor of the province where it will be located can approve the investment. There has been no update to the law since the introduction of provincial level State Secretaries with the new government in 2020. APIEX has the authority to approve any project between $25 million-$40 million. The Minister of Economy and Finance must approve national or foreign investment between $40 -$225 million. If the investment (national or foreign) occupies an area of 10,000 hectares or an area superior to 100,000 hectares for a forestry concession, or it amounts to more than $225 million, the project must be approved by the Council of Ministers.

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

Law 10/2013, passed on April 11, 2013, and known as the Competition Law, established a modern legal framework for competition in Mozambique and created the Competition Regulatory Authority. A budget has still not been allocated to this body, but the government appointed a director in April 2020.

The framework is inspired by the Portuguese competition enforcement system. Violating the prohibitions contained in the Competition Law (either by entering into an illegal agreement or practice or by implementing a concentration subject to mandatory filing) could result in a fine of up to 5 percent of the turnover of the company in the previous year. Competition Regulatory Authority decisions may be appealed in the Judicial Court in Maputo, for cases leading to fines or other sanctions, or to the Administrative Court for merger control procedures.

Expropriation and Compensation

While there have been no significant cases of nationalization since the adoption of the 1990 Constitution, Mozambican law holds that “when deemed absolutely necessary for weighty reasons of national interest or public health and order, the nationalization or expropriation of goods and rights shall (result in the owner being) entitled to just and equitable compensation.” No American companies have been subject to expropriation issues in Mozambique since the adoption of the 1990 Constitution.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Mozambique acceded in 1998 to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

For disputes between U.S. and Mozambican companies where a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) violation is alleged, recourse via the international Alternative Dispute Resolution may also be available. No investment disputes in the past ten years have involved U.S. investors. Investors who feel they have a dispute covered under the BIT should contact the U.S. Embassy.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

In 1999, the Parliament passed Law no. 11/99 (Law on Arbitration), which allows access to modern commercial arbitration for foreign investors. The Judicial Council approved Resolutions No. 1/CJ/2017 and No. 2/CJ/2017 in 2017, creating the Regulations of Mediation Services in Judicial Courts and the Judicial Mediators’ Code of Conduct. These new resolutions are designed to promote the mediation process as an alternative to litigation. Labor and commercial arbitration are recognized by local courts as well as cases judged internationally.

The Center of Arbitration, Conciliation, and Mediation (CACM) offers commercial arbitration. During 2019, CACM handled 22 cases of commercial arbitration, and another ten cases are in process. CACM has 316 arbitrators, 12 of which are international. One of the main constraints to the use of arbitration is that many contracts do not incorporate a clause that allows conflicts to be resolved via arbitration instead of in the courts.

Bankruptcy Regulations

In June 2014, the GRM passed a comprehensive legal regime for bankruptcy, streamlining the bankruptcy process and setting the rules for business recovery. Globally, Mozambique stands at 86 of 190 economies on the ease of resolving insolvency issues, according to the 2019 Doing Business Report.

In the 2020 World Bank Doing Business Report, Mozambique ranked 86 overall for resolving insolvency, scoring well above average for sub-Saharan Africa, but below South Africa and Mauritius in the most recent report.

4. Industrial Policies

Investment Incentives

The Code of Fiscal Benefits contains specific incentives for entities that intend to invest in certain geographical areas within Mozambique that have natural resource potential but which lack infrastructure and have low levels of economic activity. Rapid Development Zones (RDZ) were also created to facilitate investment. Investments in these zones are exempt from import duties on certain goods and are granted an investment tax credit equal to 20 percent of the total investment (with a right to carry the credit forward for five years). Additional modest incentives are available for professional training and the construction and rehabilitation of public infrastructure, including, but not limited to roads, railways, water supply, schools, and hospitals.

The Code of Fiscal Benefits, Law No. 4/2009, passed in 2009, is available at: https://investmentpolicyhubold.unctad.org/InvestmentLaws/laws/108 . The Regulations for the Code of Fiscal Benefits are set forth in Decree No. 56/2009, which was approved in October 2009. APIEX can assist companies with the investment incentives stipulated in the Code of

Fiscal Benefits

With the exception of sectors like oil and gas where government participation is mandatory, the government does not issue joint guarantees or jointly finance foreign direct investment projects.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

Mozambique has seven free trade zones in the country, which provide a variety of fiscal exemptions depending on the sector of investment as well as the project location. Investors should pay close attention to documents and procedures requested in order to establish a business locally or to request fiscal and customs incentives if investing in an industrial free zone. Information regarding business registration and administrative practices are available at: http://www.portaldogoverno.gov.mz/por/Empresas/Registos .

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

The government generally does not require investors to purchase from local sources, nor does it require technology or proprietary business information to be transferred to a local company. Within certain sectors, however, the government has implemented sector specific local content requirements. A proposed “Local Content” law could create additional requirements in this realm and consolidate the various requirements into a single law. This proposed law has been drafted and presented at the Council of Ministers, and is likely to be approved before the end of 2020.

Regulations for new mining and petroleum laws may require investors to give preference to local sources available in Mozambique if the goods or services are of an internationally comparable quality and competitively priced.

Companies may hire foreign workers only when there are not sufficient Mozambican workers available that meet specific job qualifications. The Ministry of Labor enforces quotas for foreign workers as a percentage of the workforce within companies that varies based on the size of the company. Per the 2007 Labor Law (23/2007) companies with 10 employees or fewer can employ no more than 10 percent expatriates (effectively 1 person in a 10 person company), companies with 11-100 employees may employ up to 8 percent expatriates, and large companies with over 100 employees may employ no more than 10 percent expatriates. Many companies use foreigners as outside consultants, which allows them to get around the quota system by hiring a “company” instead of a foreigner who would be subject to the quota requirement. Work permits for foreigners cost approximately USD370 and take at least one month to be issued. All investments must specify the number and category of Mozambican and foreign workers.

There are currently no data localization policies in effect in Mozambique. The government agency responsible for enforcing IT policies and rules is:

UTICT – Unidade Tecnica de Implementacao da Politica de Informatica
Technical Implementation Unit for IT Policy
Tel: (258) 21 309 398; 21 302 241
Mobile (258) 305 3450
Email: cpinfo@infopol.gov.mz

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

The legal system recognizes and protects property rights to buildings and movable property. Private ownership of land, however, is not allowed in Mozambique. Land is owned by the State. The government grants land-use concessions called DUATs (Direitos de Uso e Aproveitamento de Terra, or a land-use title) for periods of up to 50 years, with options to renew for an additional 50 years. Essentially, land-use concessions serve as proxies for land titles. There is no robust market in land use rights and land use titles are not easily transferable. The process to award land concessions is not transparent and the government at times has granted overlapping land concessions that often require lengthy negotiation to resolve. It takes an average of 90 days to issue a land title for most of the concessions. Banks in Mozambique rely on property other than land – cars, private houses, and infrastructure – as collateral, as it is not possible to securitize property for lending purposes.

In urban areas, the DUAT of a plot passes automatically to the purchaser following the sale of a house or building. In rural areas, the purchaser of physical infrastructure or improvements and crops must request authorization from the government for the DUAT to be transferred. This requirement is often cited as a barrier for loans in the agricultural sector and is seen as a potential barrier to investment in the agriculture sector and the transition to more intensive, commercial forms of agriculture.

Investors should be aware of the requirement to obtain endorsement of their projects in terms of land use and allocation at a local level from the affected communities. APIEX assists investors in finding land for development and obtaining appropriate documentation, including agricultural land. The government advises companies on relocating individuals currently occupying land designated for development; however, companies are ultimately responsible for planning and executing resettlement programs.

Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual property rights (IPR) enforcement in Mozambique remains sporadic and inconsistent. Mozambique’s National Inspectorate of Economic Activities (INAE) has increased seizures, confiscating Hewlett-Packard (HP) toner cartridges, Nike, Adidas, Ralph Lauren, and other falsely branded merchandise in several raids in 2019. However, in general, enforcement and prosecutions are limited. Pirated DVDs and other counterfeit goods are commonly sold in Mozambique.

The Parliament passed a copyright and related rights bill in 2000, which, when combined with the 1999 Industrial Property Act, brought Mozambique into compliance with the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The law provides for the security and legal protection of industrial property rights, copyrights, and other related rights. In addition, Mozambique is a signatory to the Bern Convention, as well as the New York and Paris Conventions.

Despite enforceable laws and regulations protecting intellectual property rights (IPR and providing recourse to criminal or administrative courts for IPR violations, it remains difficult for investors to enforce their IPR. The registration process is relatively simple. and private sector organizations have been working with various government entities on an IPR taskforce to combat IPR infringement and related public safety issues stemming from the use of counterfeit products.

Mozambique is not included in he 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 IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at https://www.wipo.int/directory/en/details.jsp?country_code=MZ  .

6. Financial Sector

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

The Mozambique Stock Exchange (BVM, Bolsa de Valores de Mocambique) is a public institution under the guardianship of the Minister of Economy and Finance and the supervision of the Central Bank of Mozambique. In general, the BVM is underutilized as a means of financing and investment. However, the government has expressed interest in reforming market rules in an effort to increase capitalization and potentially prepare the ground for new rules that would require foreign companies active in Mozambique to be listed on the local stock exchange. Corporate and government bonds are traded on the BVM and there is only one dealer that operates in the country, with all other brokers incorporated into commercial banks, which act as the primary dealers for treasury bills. The secondary market in Mozambique remains underdeveloped. Available credit instruments include medium and short-term loans, syndicated loans, foreign exchange derivatives, and trade finance instruments, such as letters of credit and credit guarantees. The BVM remains illiquid, in the sense that very limited activity occurs outside the issuing time. Investors tend to hold their instruments until maturity. The market also lacks a bond yield curve as government issuances use a floating price regime for the coupons with no price discovery for tenures above 12 months.

The GRM notified the IMF that it has accepted the obligations of Article VIII sections 2, 3, and 4 of the IMF Articles of Agreement, effective May 20, 2011.

Money and Banking System

According to the Mozambican Association of Banks (AMB) and KPMG, in 2019 the Banco Comercial e de Investimentos SA (BCI), Banco Internacional de Mocambique SA (BIM), and Standard Bank accounted for more than 65% of the total assets, total loans and advances, and total deposits held by commercial banks in Mozambique. In 2018, Mozambique had 669 bank branches, up from 641 in 2017. The majority of these branches is concentrated in major cities and rural districts often have no banks at all. As of December 2019 there were 1790 Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) throughout the country. Thanks to the partnership between mobile communications companies and banks for electronic or mobile-money transactions, the number of services available from ATMs is also increasing.

Credit is allocated on market terms, but eligibility requirements exclude much of the population from obtaining credit. Banks request collateral, but since land cannot be used as collateral, the majority of individuals do not qualify for loans. Foreign investor export activities in critical areas related to food, fuel, and health markets have access to credit in foreign and local currencies. All other sectors have access to credit only in the local currency.

The value of non performing loans increased by 16 percent from 18.6 billion meticais as of December 2017 to 21.5 billion meticais as of December 2018. This increase happened at a time when the value of all loans remained largely unchanged when compared to the previous year. The non performing loans (NPLs) ratio for the sector has slightly improved from 8.3 percent at the end of 2017 to 7.1 percent by December 2018, due in part to write offs.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange

In December 2017, Mozambique approved new exchange control rules in Decree 49/2017. Residents in Mozambique are now required to remit export earnings to Mozambique into an export earnings account in foreign currency, which can only be used for specifically defined purposes. Under the new decree, the mandatory registration of foreign exchange operations will now be processed electronically in real time by the commercial banks. Applications for capital operations are now processed by commercial banks and forwarded to the Central Bank of Mozambique. Foreign direct investment (FDI) up to USD 250,000 no longer requires prior authorization from the Bank of Mozambique and only needs to be registered with the commercial bank handling the transactions. Shareholder and intercompany loans made by foreign entities up to USD 5 million require no authorization from the Central Bank, provided the loans are interest free or lower than the base lending rate for the relevant currency, the repayment period is at least three years, and no other fees or charges apply.

A special foreign exchange regime for oil, gas, and mining sectors allows for greater flexibility in foreign exchange and financing operations. The law, which went into force in January 2018, stipulates that profits from petroleum rights are entirely taxed at an autonomous tax rate of 32 percent. The law also guarantees tax stabilization for up to 10 years, starting from the beginning of commercial production with an investment amount of USD 100 million. The Ministry of Economy and Finance can also approve the use of U.S. dollars, if the company has invested at least USD 500 million and more than 90 percent of its transactions are in U.S. dollars. The law also revoked a 50 percent tax rate reduction related to the production tax that was available when extracted products were used locally.

Remittance Policies

Under the 2017 Decree, there is no longer an obligation to convert 50 percent of export proceeds into the local currency. The new decree only requires that a sufficient quantity be converted into the local currency to cover payments to residents locally.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

The government is exploring establishing a sovereign wealth fund for LNG revenues that are expected in the next decade. Currently there is an off-budget account for capital gains revenues, in particular the approximate USD 830 million the government received following the transfer of Anadarko’s Mozambique assets to Total. The Budget Law authorizes the government to save or spend windfall revenues on investment projects, debt repayment, and emergency programs. However, there are limited details on how off-budget spending should be planned and approved. The Ministry of Economy and Finance is currently leading efforts to develop a proposal for a sovereign wealth fund that it hopes to present to parliament before the end of 2020.

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Mozambique’s State-owned enterprises (SOEs) have their origin in the socialist period directly following independence in 1975, with a variety of SOEs competing with the private sector in the Mozambican economy. Government participation varies depending on the company and sector. SOEs are managed by the Institute for the Management of State Participation (IGEPE – Portuguese acronym). Following past privatization and restructuring programs, IGEPE now holds majority and minority interests in 128 firms, down from 156. IGEPE’s holdings are listed on its website: http://www.igepe.org.mz/ 

Some of the largest SOEs, such as Airports of Mozambique (ADM) and Airlines of Mozambique (Travel – airports and air transportation), and Electricity of Mozambique (Energy & Mining – electrical utility), have monopolies in their respective industries. In some cases, SOEs enter into joint ventures with private firms to deliver certain services. For example, Ports and Railways of Mozambique (CFM-Portuguese acronym) offers concessions for some of its ports and railways. Many SOEs benefit from state subsidies. In some instances, SOEs have benefited from non-compete contracts that should have been competitively tendered. SOE accounts are generally not transparent and not thoroughly audited by the Supreme Audit Institution. SOE debt represents an unknown, but potentially significant liability for the GRM. SOEs were also at the heart of the hidden debt scandal revealed in 2016.

In March 2018, the Parliament passed a new law that broadens the definition of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) to include all public enterprises and shareholding companies. The law seeks to unify SOE oversight and harmonize the corporate governance structure, placing additional financial controls, borrowing limits, and financial analysis and evaluation requirements for borrowing by SOEs. The law requires the oversight authority to publish a consolidated annual report on SOEs, with additional reporting requirements for individual SOEs. The Council of Ministers approved regulations for the SOE law in early 2019, but there has still not been a meaningful increase in public disclosure by the state owned companies.

Privatization Program

Mozambique’s privatization program has been relatively transparent, with tendering procedures that are generally open and competitive. Most remaining parastatals operate as state-owned public utilities, with government oversight and control, making their privatization more politically sensitive. While the government has indicated an intention to include private partners in most of these utility industries, progress has been slow.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Larger companies and foreign investors in Mozambique tend to follow their own responsible business conduct (RBC) standards. For some large investment projects, RBC-related issues are negotiated directly with the GRM. Responsible business conduct is an increasingly high-profile issue in Mozambique, especially in the extractive industries, with some projects requiring resettlement of communities.

The Government of Mozambique (GRM) joined the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in May 2009. The EITI Governing Board labeled Mozambique as a compliant country in 2012.

9. Corruption

Corruption is a major concern in Mozambique. Though Mozambique has made progress developing the legal framework to combat corruption, the policies and leadership necessary to ensure effective implementation have been insufficient. While the 2016 hidden debt scandal involving a cadre of former government officials is the most infamous example of government corruption, it is not the only case.

However, the government is taking concerted action to address the problem. In 2019, Mozambique made a string of arrests of 20 politically connected individuals related to the hidden debt case. The government also moved forward with cases against the former Minister of Transport and Communications Paulo Zucula, the former CEO of the national airlines (LAM – a parastatal), and Mateus Zimba, former director of Sasol. In 2019, the government in cooperation with the IMF also released a Diagnostic Report on Transparency, Governance and Corruption outlining 29 measures to fight corruption and improve transparency. The full report is available online at: https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/CR/Issues/2019/08/23/Republic-of-Mozambique-Diagnostic-Report-on-Transparency-Governance-and-Corruption-48613 .

Thanks in part to these efforts, Mozambique rose six places on Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index, and now ranks 146 out of 180 countries in 2019.

Mozambique’s civil society and journalists remain vocal on corruption-related issues. Action related to the hidden debt scandal is being led by a civil society umbrella organization known as the Budget Monitoring Forum (FMO, Forum de Monitoria de Orcamento) that brings together around 20 different organizations for collective action on transparency and corruption related issues. Another civil society organization, the Center for Public Integrity (CIP, Centro de Integridade Publica), also continues to publicly pressure the government to act against corrupt practices. CIP finds that many local businesses are closely linked to the government and have little incentive to promote transparency.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at government agency or agencies responsible for combating corruption:

Ana Maria Gemo
Central Anti-Corruption Office (Gabinete Central de Combate a Corrupcao)
Avenida 10 de Novembro, 193
+258 82 3034576
gabinetecorrupção@yahoo.com.br

Contact at “watchdog” organization

Fatima Mimbire
Project Coordinator Extractive Industries
Center for Public Integrity (Centro de Integridade Publica)
Rua Fernão Melo e Castro, 124
+258 82 5293957
fatima.mimbire@cipmoz.org

10. Political and Security Environment

The greatest security concern in Mozambique is the growing Islamic insurgency in the country’s northern provinces. What started as a homegrown threat in October 2017, likely emboldened by Tanzania-based extremist leaders, has evolved into a more organized insurgency, and was officially recognized by the Islamic State (IS) as an affiliate organization in June 2019. IS now provides support to the combatants in northern Mozambique and frequently claims credit for their attacks. The violence has resulted in an estimated 930 deaths and led to more than 150,000 internally displaced persons in Cabo Delgado Province (CDP). Since 2017, the IS-affiliate has carried out more than 250 deliberate attacks against unarmed civilians, creating a high risk for atrocities committed by the violent extremist organization. 2020 is on pace to be the conflict’s deadliest year.

The Islamic State-affiliate primarily operates in CDP, which is also the site of the major LNG investments being led by Total and the ENI/ExxonMobil consortium, but maintains networks in neighboring Niassa and Nampula provinces, and has proven capable of attacking villages in southern Tanzania. In early 2019, the insurgents killed a contractor associated with the LNG project and there have since been several other victims among LNG company staff. However, to date, the insurgents’ target remains villages and government forces and institutions. While the violence has not directly impacted the LNG project site, it has raised costs and put a damper on follow-on investments in CDP that could provide services to the projects in a more permissive security environment. Mozambique’s military and police forces have often proved ineffective in defending many communities in CDP. While the GRM is in need of outside military assistance, the continued use of private military companies risks further aggravating local grievances.

In March 2020, the GRM announced the creation of the Integrated Development Agency of the North. The United States and other international partners look forward to working with this new agency to address the underlying socio-economic drivers of violent extremism in Cabo Delgado.

In addition, following Mozambique’s largely peaceful elections in October 2019, there has been a resurgence of violence in central Mozambique led by a Renamo splinter group known as the “Junta” despite the definitive ceasefire and peace agreement signed in August 2019. Renamo denies any connections to or support for the Junta. Until recently, the splinter group primarily targeted road transport along the major north-south and east-west highways that pass through Manica and Sofala provinces. However, in April 2020, the group attacked a logging camp killing one expatriate worker and wounding several others. The Junta leader does not recognize the leader of the Renamo party and has stated that the attacks will continue until the government enters into direct negotiations with him.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

The labor market is dominated by the informal economy with the vast majority of people (approximately 70 percent) working in subsistence agriculture, particularly in rural areas. People in cities often work in informal trade.

There is an acute shortage of skilled labor in Mozambique. As a result, many employers import foreign employees to fill these skill gaps. The government limits the number of expatriates a business can employ in relation to the number of Mozambican citizens it employs. The government passed a labor regulation in 2016 strengthening the requirement for employers to devise a skills transfer program that trains Mozambican nationals to eventually replace the foreign workers.

The constitution and law provide that workers, with limited exceptions, may form and join independent trade unions, conduct legal strikes, and bargain collectively. The law requires government approval to establish a union. The government has 45 days to register employers’ or workers’ organizations, a delay the International Labor Organization (ILO) deemed excessive. Approximately three percent of the labor force is affiliated with trade unions. An employee fired with cause does not have a right to severance, while employees terminated without cause do. Unemployment insurance does not exist and there is not a social safety net program for workers laid off for economic reasons.

The Government of Mozambique is reviewing the Labor Law to align it with international conventions related to forced labor, health and safety issues in mining, and the worst forms of child labor. The proposed law would also extend the maternity leave period from 60 to 90 days. The new labor law will also address sexual harassment.

12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Other Investment Insurance Programs

The DFC (then OPIC) signed an investment incentive agreement with Mozambique in 1999. In September 2019, the DFC announced it would provide up to $5 billion in financing to support the development of Mozambique’s LNG resources. DFC’s Development Credit Agency is also actively engaged in lending in partnership with five local banks to support investment in the agricultural sector.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) N/A N/A 2018 $14.717 www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2018 $332 BEA data available at:
https://apps.bea.gov/
international/factsheet/
 
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2018 $ -1 BEA data available at
https://apps.bea.gov/
international/factsheet/
 
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A 2019 288.4 UNCTAD data available at
https://unctad.org/en/Pages/DIAE/
World%20Investment%20Report/
Country-Fact-Sheets.aspx
 
Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward 41,530 100% Total Outward N/A 100%
United Arab Emirates 8,115 20% N/A
South Africa 7,630 18%
Mauritius 6,093 15%
Portugal 3,862 9%
U.K. 2,965 7%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

UAE and Mauritius are both have bilateral tax agreements with Mozambique and host holding company accounts used by companies involved in Mozambique’s LNG industry.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment
Data not available.

14. Contact for More Information

Elizabeth Filipe
Economic Assistant
U.S. Embassy Maputo
Avenida Kenneth Kaunda, 193
+32 258 21 29 27 97
filipeec@state.gov

Tanzania

Executive Summary

The United Republic of Tanzania has a relatively stable political environment, reasonable macroeconomic policies, and resiliency from external shocks. However, recently adopted Government of Tanzania (GoT) policies raise questions about short- and medium-term prospects for foreign direct investment (FDI), and foster a more challenging business environment. Tanzania is ranked 141 out of 190 countries on the World Bank’s “Doing Business” rankings, the lowest among its East African peers. After nearly a nearly a decade of double-digit growth, Tanzania’s rate of GDP growth slowed over the past two years. The private sector remains concerned about heavy-handed and arbitrary enforcement of rules; stagnant credit growth; poor budget credibility and execution; and excessive domestic arrears (especially to the domestic private sector). Tanzania’s diverse economy gives it some resiliency but nevertheless, it faces considerable challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as high rates of poverty and youth unemployment.

Profitable sectors for foreign investment in Tanzania have traditionally included agriculture, mining and services, construction, tourism, and trade. However, aggressive revenue raising measures and unfriendly investor legislation have made investment less attractive in recent years. Labor regulations make it difficult to hire foreign employees, even when the required skills are not available within the local labor force. Corruption, especially in government procurement, privatization, taxation, and customs clearance remains a concern for foreign investors, though the government has prioritized efforts to combat the practice. GoT-funded infrastructure development offers investment opportunities in rail, real estate development, and construction.

Compared to some of its neighbors, Tanzania remains a politically stable and peaceful country. Since November 2015, however, the government has restricted civic and media freedoms, including severely limiting the ability of opposition political parties and civil society organizations to debate issues publicly, or assemble peacefully. Elections in 2019 were marred by allegations of irregularities and suppression of opposition candidates. National elections, including Presidential elections, are scheduled for October 2020.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2019 96 of 180 http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2020 141 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2019 97 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2017 $1.38 https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
World Bank GNI per capita 2018 $ 1,020 http://data.worldbank.org/
indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

The United Republic of Tanzania, according to Government officials, welcomes foreign direct investment (FDI) as it pursues its industrialization and development agenda. However, in practice, government policies and actions do not effectively keep and attract investment. The 2019 World Investment Report indicates that FDI flows to Tanzania increased from USD 938 million in 2017 to USD 1.1 billion in 2018, although they have not recovered to pre-2015 levels. (The Bank of Tanzania reports 2018 FDI as USD 2.82 billion, down from USD 5.07 billion in 2017.). Investors and potential investors note the biggest challenges to investment include difficulty in hiring foreign workers, reduced profits due to unfriendly and opaque tax policies, increased local content requirements, regulatory/policy instability, lack of trust between the GoT and the private sector, and mandatory initial public offerings (IPOs) in key industries.

The United Republic of Tanzania has framework agreements on investment, and offers various incentives and the services of investment promotion agencies. Investment is mainly a non-Union matter, thus there are different laws, policies, and practices for the Mainland and Zanzibar. Zanzibar updated its investment policy in 2019, while the Mainland/Union policy dates from 1996. Efforts to update the Mainland Investment Policy and Investment Act were underway, but incomplete as of the date of this publication.. International agreements on investment are covered as Union matters and therefore apply to both regions.

The Tanzania Investment Center (TIC) is intended to be a one-stop center for investors, providing services such as permits, licenses, visas, and land. The Zanzibar Investment Promotion Authority (ZIPA) provides the same function in Zanzibar.

The Government of Tanzania has an ongoing dialogue with the private sector via the Tanzania National Business Council (TNBC). TNBC meetings are chaired by the President of the United Republic of Tanzania and co-chaired by the head of the Tanzania Private Sector Foundation (TPSF). Unfortunately, the TNBC has only met twice in the past five years. There is also a Zanzibar Business Council (ZBC), as well as Regional Business Councils (RBCs), and District Business Councils (DBCs).

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Foreign investors generally receive treatment equivalent to domestic investors but limits still persist in a number of sectors. Tanzania conforms to best practice in several cases. There are no geographical restrictions on private establishments with foreign participation or ownership, no limitations on number of foreign entities that can operate in a given sector, and no sectors in which approval is required for foreign investment greenfield FDI but not for domestic investment.

However, Tanzania discourages foreign investment in several sectors through limitations on foreign equity ownership or other activities, including aerospace, agribusiness (fishing), construction and heavy equipment, travel and tourism, energy and environmental industries, information and communication, and publishing, media, and entertainment.

Specific examples include the following: The Tourism Act of 2008 bars foreign companies from engaging in mountain guiding activities, and states that only Tanzanian citizens can operate travel agencies, car rental services, or engage in tour guide activities (with limited exceptions). Per the Merchant Shipping Act of 2003, only citizen-owned ships are authorized to engage in local trade, a requirement that can be waived at the Minister’s discretion. Furthermore, the Tanzania Shipping Agencies Act of November 2017 gives exclusive monopoly power to the Tanzania Shipping Agency Corporation (TASAC) to conduct business as shipping agents, shipping regulator, and licensor of other private shipping agencies. The Act also gives TASAC an exclusive mandate to provide clearing and forwarding functions relating to imports and exports of minerals, mineral concentrates, machinery and equipment for the mining and petroleum sector, products and/or extracts related to minerals and petroleum arms and ammunition, live animals, government trophies and any other goods that the Minister responsible for maritime transport may specify.

  • The Tourism Act of 2008 bars foreign companies from engaging in mountain guiding activities, and states that only Tanzanian citizens can operate travel agencies, car rental services, or engage in tour guide activities (with limited exceptions). Per the Merchant Shipping Act of 2003, only citizen-owned ships are authorized to engage in local trade, a requirement that can be waived at the Minister’s discretion. Furthermore, the Tanzania Shipping Agencies Act of November 2017 gives exclusive monopoly power to the Tanzania Shipping Agency Corporation (TASAC) to conduct business as shipping agents, shipping regulator, and licensor of other private shipping agencies. The Act also gives TASAC an exclusive mandate to provide clearing and forwarding functions relating to imports and exports of minerals, mineral concentrates, machinery and equipment for the mining and petroleum sector, products and/or extracts related to minerals and petroleum arms and ammunition, live animals, government trophies and any other goods that the Minister responsible for maritime transport may specify.
  • A 2009 amendment to the Fisheries Regulations imposes onerous conditions for foreign citizens to engage in commercial fishing and the export of fishery products, sets separate licensing costs for foreign citizens and Tanzanians, and limits the types of fishery products that foreign citizens may work with.
  • Foreign construction contractors can only obtain temporary licenses, per the Contractors Registration Act of 1997, and contractors must commit in writing to leave Tanzania upon completion of the set project. 2004 amendments to the Contractors Registration By-Laws limit foreign contractor participation to specified, more complex classes of work.
  • Foreign capital participation in the telecommunications sector is limited to a maximum of 75 percent.
  • All insurers require one-third controlling interest by Tanzania citizens, per the Insurance Act.
  • The Electronic and Postal Communications (Licensing) Regulations 2011 limits foreign ownership of Tanzanian TV stations to 49 percent and prohibits foreign capital participation in national newspapers.
  • Mining projects must be at least partially owned by the GoT and “indigenous” companies, and hire, or at least favor, local suppliers, service providers, and employees. (See Chapter 4: Laws and Regulations on FDI for details.). Gemstone mining is limited to Tanzanian citizens with waivers of the limitation at ministerial discretion. In February 2019, responding to low growth and investment in the sector, the government revised the 2018 Mining Regulations to reduce local ownership requirements from 51 percent to 20 percent.

Currently, foreigners can invest in stock traded on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE), but only East African residents can invest in government bonds. East Africans, excluding Tanzanian residents, however, are not allowed to sell government bonds bought in the primary market for at least one year following purchase.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

There have not been any third-party investment policy reviews (IPRs) on Tanzania in the past three years, the most recent OECD report is for 2013. The World Trade Organization (WTO) published a Trade Policy Review in 2019 on all the East African Community states, including Tanzania.

WTO – Trade Policy Review: East African Community (2019)https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp484_e.htm 

OECD – Tanzania Investment Policy Review (2013)http://www.oecd.org/daf/inv/investment-policy/tanzania-investment-policy-review.htm 

WTO – Secretariat Report of Tanzaniahttps://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/s384-04_e.pdf 

UNCTAD – Trade and Gender Implications (2018)https://unctad.org/en/PublicationsLibrary/ditc2017d2_en.pdf 

Business Facilitation

The World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 Indicators rank Tanzania 141 out of 190 overall for ease of doing business, and 162nd for ease of starting a business. There are 10 procedures to open a business, higher than the sub-Saharan Africa average of 7.4. The Business Registration and Licensing Agency (BRELA) issues certificates of compliance for foreign companies, certificates of incorporation for private and public companies, and business name registration for sole proprietor and corporate bodies. After registering with BRELA, the company must: obtain a taxpayer identification number (TIN) certificate, apply for a business license, apply for a VAT certificate, register for workmen’s compensation insurance, register with the Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA), receive inspection from the Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA), and obtain a Social Security registration number.

The TIC provides simultaneous registration with BRELA, TRA, and social security (http://tiw.tic.co.tz/ ) for enterprises whose minimum capital investment is not less than USD 500,000 if foreign owned or USD 100,000 if locally owned.

In May 2018, the government adopted the Blueprint for Regulatory Reforms to improve the business environment and attract more investors. The reforms, which were developed as a collaborative effort between the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment and the private sector, seek to improve the country’s ease of doing business through regulatory reforms and to increase efficiency in dealing with the government and its regulatory authorities. The official implementation of the Business Environment Improvement Blueprint started on July 1, 2019, though there have been little tangible changes or advancements. A new Business Facilitation Act aimed at implementing key actions from the Blueprint is pending adoption by Parliament.

Outward Investment

Tanzania does not promote or incentivize outward investment. There are restrictions on Tanzanian residents’ participation in foreign capital markets and ability to purchase foreign securities. Under the Foreign Exchange (Amendment) Regulations 2014 (FEAR), however, there are circumstances where Tanzanian residents may trade securities within the East African Community (EAC). In addition, FEAR provides some opportunities for residents to engage in foreign direct investment and acquire real assets outside of the EAC.

3. Legal Regime

Transparency of the Regulatory System

According to the World Bank’s Global Indicators of Regulatory Governance (http://rulemaking.worldbank.org/ ), Tanzania scores low in regulatory governance with 1.5 out of 5 total in transparency of regulatory governance (neighboring Kenya and Uganda, by contrast, both score 3.25)

Tanzania has formal processes for drafting and implementing rules and regulations. Generally, after an Act is passed by Parliament, the creation of regulations is delegated to a designated ministry. In theory, stakeholders are legally entitled to comment on regulations before they are implemented. However, ministries and regulatory agencies frequently fail to provide adequate opportunity for meaningful input as there is no minimum period of time for public comment set forth in law. Stakeholders often report that they are either not consulted or given too little time to provide meaningful input. Ministries or regulatory agencies do not have the legal obligation to publish the text of proposed regulations before their enactment. Sometimes, it is difficult to obtain the final, adopted version of a bill in a timely manner nor is it always public information if and when the President signed the bill. Moreover, the government has increasingly used presidential decree powers to bypass regulatory and legal structures.

In 2016, the President signed the Access to Information Act into law. In theory, the Act gives citizens more rights to information; however, some claim that the Act gives too much discretion to the GoT to withhold disclosure. Although information, including rules and regulations, is available on the GoT’s “Government Portal” (https://www.tanzania.go.tz/documents ), the website is generally not current and incomplete. Alternatively, rules and regulations can be obtained on the relevant ministry’s website, but many offer insufficient information.

Nominally, independent regulators are mandated with impartially following the regulations. The process, however, has sometimes been criticized as being subject to political influence, depriving the regulator of the independence it is granted under the law.

Tanzania does not meet the minimum standards for transparency of public finances and debt obligations.

International Regulatory Considerations

Tanzania is also part of both the EAC and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and subject to their respective regulations. However, according to the 2016 East African Market Scorecard (most recent), Tanzania is not compliant with several EAC regulations.

Tanzania is a member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). The national standards body, the Tanzania Bureau of Standards, was established in 1975. It has been most active in promoting standards and quality in process technology, including agro-processing, chemicals and textiles, and engineering, including mining and construction.

Tanzania is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and its National Enquiry Point (NEP) is the Tanzania Bureau of Standards (TBS). As the WTO NEP, TBS handles information on adopted or proposed technical regulations, as well as on standards and conformity assessment procedures. Tanzania does not notify all draft technical regulations to the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT).

Legal System and Judicial Independence

Tanzania’s legal system is based on the English Common Law system. The first source of law is the 1977 Constitution, followed by statutes or acts of Parliament; and case law, which are reported or unreported cases from the High Courts and Courts of Appeal and are used as precedents to guide lower courts. The Court of Appeal, which handles appeals from Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar, is the highest court, followed by the High Court, which handles civil, criminal and commercial cases. There are four specialized divisions within the High Courts: Labor, Land, Commercial, and Corruption and Economic Crimes. The Labor, Land, and Corruption and Economic Crimes divisions have exclusive jurisdiction over their respective matters, while the Commercial division does not claim exclusive jurisdiction. The High Court and the District and Resident Magistrate Courts also have original jurisdiction in commercial cases subject to specified financial limitations.

Apart from the formal court system, there are quasi-judicial bodies, including the Tax Revenue Appeals Tribunal and the Fair Competition Tribunal, as well as alternate dispute resolution procedures in the form of arbitration proceedings. Judgments originating from countries whose courts are recognized under the Reciprocal Enforcement of Foreign Judgments Act (REFJA) are enforceable in Tanzania. To enforce such judgments, the judgment holder must make an application to the High Court of Tanzania to have the judgment registered. Countries currently listed in the REFJA include Botswana, Lesotho, Mauritius, Zambia, Seychelles, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, the United Kingdom, and Sri Lanka.

The Tanzanian constitution guarantees judicial independence. However, the degree of judicial independence has varied significantly in the past few years, and many perceive that political interference in justice has increased over the past five years.

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

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

In 2017, new laws and regulations were enacted that may impact the risk-return profile on foreign investments, especially those in the extractives and natural resources industries. The laws/regulations include the Natural Wealth and Resources (Permanent Sovereignty) Act 2017, Natural Wealth and Resources Contracts (Review and Renegotiation of Unconscionable Terms) Act 2017, Written Laws (Miscellaneous Act) 2017, and Mining (Local Content) Regulations 2018. The three new acts were introduced by the executive branch under a certificate of urgency, meaning that standard advance publication requirements were waived to expedite passage. As a result, there was minimal stakeholder engagement.

Investors, especially those in natural resources and mining, have expressed concern about the effects of these new laws. Two of the new laws apply to “natural wealth and resources,” which are broadly defined and not only include oil and gas, but in theory, could include wind, sun, and air space. Investors are encouraged to seek legal counsel to determine the effect these laws may have on existing or potential investments. For natural resource contracts, the laws remove rights to international arbitration and subject contracts, past and present, to Parliamentary review. More specifically, the law states “Where [Parliament] considers that certain terms …or the entire arrangement… are prejudicial to the interests of the People and the United Republic by reason of unconscionable terms it may, by resolution, direct the Government to initiate renegotiation with a view to rectifying the terms.”  Further, if the GoT’s proposed renegotiation is not accepted, the offending terms are automatically expunged. “Unconscionable” is defined broadly, including catch-all definitions for clauses that are, for example, “inequitable or onerous to the state.” Under the law, the judicial branch does not play a role in determining whether a clause is “unconscionable.”

The Mining (Local Content) Regulations 2018 require that indigenous Tanzanian companies are given first preference for mining licenses. An ‘indigenous Tanzanian company’ is one incorporated under the Companies Act with at least 51 percent of its equity owned by and 100 percent of its non-managerial positions held by Tanzanians. Furthermore, foreign mining companies must have at least 5 percent equity participation from an indigenous Tanzanian company and must grant the GoT a 16 percent carried interest. Lastly, foreign companies that supply goods or services to the mining industry must incorporate a joint venture company in which an indigenous Tanzanian company must hold equity participation of at least 20 percent.

The Mining (Local Content) Regulations 2018 also set the timeframe for local content percentages to be raised over the next 10 years which vary by type of good or service provided. There are immediate requirements to use 100 percent local content for financial, insurance, legal, catering, cleaning, laundry, and security services. All contractors must submit a local content plan to the GoT, which includes provisions to favor local content and meets required local content percentages. The plan must include five sub-plans on employment and training; research and development; technology transfer; legal services; and financial services. The regulations also require contractors to implement bidding procedures to acquire goods and services and to award contracts to indigenous Tanzanian companies if they do not exceed the lowest bidder by more than 10 percent. There are also regular contractor reporting requirements. Violating these regulations can lead to a fine of up to TZS 500 million or five years imprisonment.

The Tanzania Investment Center contains many relevant laws, rules, procedures, and reporting requirements for investors on its portal at http://tanzania.eregulations.org , but it is not comprehensive.

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

The Fair Competition Commission (FCC) is an independent government body mandated to intervene, as necessary, to prevent significant market dominance, price fixing, extortion of monopoly rent to the detriment of the consumer, and market instability. The FCC has the authority to restrict mergers and acquisitions if the outcome is likely to create market dominance or lead to uncompetitive behavior.

Expropriation and Compensation

The constitution and investment acts require government to refrain from nationalization. However, the GoT may expropriate property after due process for the purpose of national interest. The Tanzanian Investment Act guarantees payment of fair, adequate, and prompt compensation; access to the court or arbitration for the determination of adequate compensation; and prompt repatriation in convertible currency where applicable. For protection under the Tanzania Investment Act, foreign investors require USD 500,000 minimum capital and Tanzanian investors require USD 100,000.

GoT authorities do not discriminate against U.S. investments, companies, or representatives in expropriation. There have been cases of government revocation of hunting concessions that grant land rights to foreign investors, including a U.S.-based company with strategic investor status in 2016. In late 2018, the GoT expropriated several dormant cashew-processing factories. In early 2019, the GoT reportedly repossessed 16 previously-privatized factories that were not in operation. At the same time, the government issued a notice to more than 30 businesses, including hotels and other factories, warning them that if they did not present a plan for revitalizing their businesses, the GoT would repossess them. The ownership structures of these businesses are unconfirmed; however, there are reports that some have foreign ownership. At least one factory with substantial U.S. investment reports that the GoT has blocked the sale of its assets.

There are numerous examples of indirect expropriation, such as confiscatory tax regimes or regulatory actions that deprive investors of substantial economic benefits from their investments.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Tanzania is a member of both the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA). Tanzania is a signatory to the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Arbitration Awards.

A new Arbitration Act adopted in February 2020 replaces the 1931 Arbitration Act and is generally a replica of the English Arbitration Act, 1996. The act slightly amends the Public Private Partnership (PPP) (Amendment) Act, No. 9 of 2018 (the PPP Amendment Act) which stated that PPP agreements are subject to local arbitration under the arbitration laws of Tanzania and must take place on Tanzanian soil. With the change, however, the arbitrator body may be international. There was a similar semantic change to the Natural Wealth and Resources (Permanent Sovereignty) Act, 2017 and the Natural Wealth and Resources (Review and Re-Negotiation of Unconscionable Terms) Act, 2017 (collectively the Natural Wealth Laws) to again allow for international arbitration as long as they are governed by Tanzanian law and the venue is in Tanzania. However, it is important to note that interpretations of this act vary among legal practitioners and thus far, there has been no foreign arbitral body to travel to Tanzania

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

Investment-related disputes in Tanzania can be protracted. The Commercial Court of Tanzania operates two sub-registries located in the cities of Arusha and Mwanza. The sub-registries, however, do not have resident judges. A judge from Dar es Salaam conducts a monthly one-week session at each of the sub-registries. The government said it intends to establish more branches in other regions including Mbeya, Tanga, and Dodoma, though progress has stalled. Court-annexed mediation is also a common feature of the country’s commercial dispute resolution system.

Despite legal mechanisms in place, foreign investors have claimed that the GoT sometimes does not honor its agreements. Additionally, investors continue to face challenges receiving payment for services rendered for GoT projects. One high profile example of such a dispute is that of a U.S.-based energy company, which in 2017 filed an application for ICSID arbitration seeking USD 561 million for alleged breach of contract of a purchase power agreement. The dispute is ongoing.

Bankruptcy Regulations

Tanzania has a bankruptcy law which allows for companies to declare insolvency. The insolvency process includes the appointment of receiver managers, administrative receivers, or liquidators. In practice the process is very long and expensive. Preferential debts such as government taxes and rents, outstanding wages and salaries, and other employee compensation take priority over other claims, including those from creditors. Insolvent or illiquid companies may also seek the protection of the courts by seeking a compromise or arrangement as proposed between a company and its creditors, a certain class of creditors, or its shareholders.

According to the 2020 World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business report, it takes an average of three years to conclude bankruptcy proceedings in Tanzania. The recovery rate for creditors on insolvent firms was reported at 20.4 U.S. cents on the dollar, with judgments typically made in local currency.

4. Industrial Policies

Investment Incentives

The Tanzania Investment Center (TIC) offers a package of investment benefits and incentives to both domestic and foreign investors without performance requirements. A minimum capital investment of USD 500,000 if foreign owned or USD 100,000 if locally owned is required.

These incentives include the following:

  • Discounts on customs duties, corporate taxes, and VAT paid on capital goods for investments in mining, infrastructure, road construction, bridges, railways, airports, electricity generation, agribusiness, telecommunications, and water services.
  • 100 percent capital allowance deduction in the years of income for the above-mentioned types of investments – though there is ambiguity as to how this is accomplished.
  • No remittance restrictions. The GoT does not restrict the right of foreign investors to repatriate returns from an investment.
  • Guarantees against nationalization and expropriation. Any dispute arising between the GoT and investors may be settled through negotiations or submitted for arbitration.
  • Allowing interest deduction on capital loans and removal of the five-year limit for carrying forward losses of investors.

Investors may apply for “Strategic Status” or “Special Strategic Status” to receive further incentives. The criteria used to determine whether an investor may receive these designations are available on TIC’s website (www.tic.co.tz/strategicInvestor ).

The government habitually introduces waivers through the Public Finance Act with the aim of attracting investment in certain targeted sectors. In Financial Year 2019/2020, the government introduced a VAT exemption for the following items in order to encourage investment: import of grain drying equipment; supply of aircraft lubricants to a local operator of air transportation; and imports refrigerated by a person in horticulture for exclusive use in Tanzania Mainland.  The GoT also introduced a reduction of corporate income tax for new investors involved in the production of sanitary pads from 30% to 25% for two years, subject to the investor signing a performance agreement with the government.

The Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZA) oversees Tanzania’s Export Processing Zones (EPZs) and Special Economic Zones (SEZs). EPZA’s core objective is to build and promote export-led economic development by offering investment incentives and facilitation services. Minimum capital requirements for EPZ and SEZ investors are USD 500,000 for foreign investors and USD 100,000 for local investors. Investment incentives offered for EPZs include the following.

  • An exemption from corporate taxes for ten years.
  • An exemption from duties and taxes on capital goods and raw materials.
  • An exemption on VAT for utility services and on construction materials.
  • An exemption from withholding taxes on rent, dividends, and interests.
  • Exemption from pre-shipment or destination inspection requirements.
  • SEZs offer similar incentives, excluding the ten-year exemption from corporate taxes.

The Zanzibar Investment Promotion Agency (ZIPA) and the Zanzibar Free Economic Zones Authority (ZAFREZA) offer following incentives:

CATEGORY “A” FREE ECONOMIC ZONE DEVELOPERS: DEVELOPMENT OF INFRASTRUCTURE

  1. The developer of a Free Economic Zone shall benefit to the following incentives:
  • exemption from payment of taxes and duties for machinery, equipment, heavy duty vehicles, building and construction materials, and any other goods of capital nature to be used for purposes of development of the Free Economic Zone infrastructure;
  • exemption from payment of corporate tax for an initial period of ten years and thereafter a corporate tax, shall be charged at the rate specified in the Income Tax Act;
  • exemption from payment of withholding tax on rent, dividends ‘and interest for the first ten years;
  • exemption from payment of property tax for the first ten years;
  • remission of customs duty, value added tax and any other tax payable in respect of importation of one administrative vehicle, ambulances, firefighting equipment and firefighting vehicles and up to two buses for employees’ transportation to and from the Free Economic Zone;
  • exemption from payment of stamp duty on any instrument executed in or outside the Free Economic Zone relating to transfer, lease or hypothecation of any movable or immovable property situated within the Free Economic Zone or any document, certificate, instrument, report or record relating to any activity, action, operation, project, undertaking or venture in the Free Economic Zone;
  • treatment of goods destined into Free Economic Zones as transit goods; and
  • on site customs inspection of goods within Free Economic Zones.

CATEGORY “B” FREE ECONOMIC ZONES OPERATORS: APPROVED INVESTORS PRODUCING FOR SALE INTO THE CUSTOMS TERRITORY

  1. Approved Investors whose primary markets are within the customs territory shall be entitled to the:
  • remission of customs duty, value added tax and any other tax charged on raw materials and goods of capital nature related to the production in the Free Economic Zones;
  • exemption from payment of withholding tax on interest on foreign sourced loan;
  • remission of customs duty, value added tax and any other tax payable in respect of importation of one administrative vehicle, one ambulances, firefighting equipment and firefighting vehicles and up to two buses for employees’ transportation into and from the Free Economic Zones;
  • exemption from pre-shipment or destination inspection requirements;
  • on site customs inspection of goods within Free Economic Zones;
  • access to competitive, modern and reliable services available within the Free Economic Zones; and
  • subject to compliance with applicable conditions and procedures for foreign exchange and payment of tax whenever appropriate, unconditional transfer through any authorized dealer bank in freely convertible currency of;

(i) net profits or dividends attributable to the investment;       (ii) payments in respect of loan servicing where a foreign loan has been obtained;

(ii) payments in respect of loan servicing where a foreign loan has been obtained;       (iii) royalties, fees and charges for any technology transfer agreement;

(iii) royalties, fees and charges for any technology transfer agreement;       (iv) the remittance of proceeds in the event of sale or liquidation of the licensed business or any interest attributable to the licensed business; and

(iv) the remittance of proceeds in the event of sale or liquidation of the licensed business or any interest attributable to the licensed business; and       (v) payments of emoluments and other benefits to foreign personnel employed in Tanzania in connection with the licensed business.

(v) payments of emoluments and other benefits to foreign personnel employed in Tanzania in connection with the licensed business.

CATEGORY “C” FREE ECONOMIC ZONE OPERATORS: APPROVED INVESTORS PRODUCING FOR EXPORT MARKETS

  1. Approved Investors producing for export markets m non-manufacturing or processing sectors shall be entitled to the:
  • subject to compliance with applicable conditions and procedures, accessing the export credit guarantee scheme;
  • remission of customs duty, value added and any other tax charged on raw materials and goods of capital nature related to the production in the Free Economic Zones;
  • exemption from payment of corporate tax for an initial period of ten years and thereafter, a corporate tax shall be charged at the rate specified in the Income Tax Act;
  • exemption from payment of withholding tax on rent, dividends and interests for the first ten years;
  • exemption from payment of all taxes and levies imposed by the Local Government Authorities for products produced in the Free Economic Zones for a period of ten years;
  • exemption from pre-shipment or destination inspection requirements;
  • on site customs inspection of goods in the Free Economic Zones;
  • remission of customs duty, value added tax and any other tax payable in respect of importation of one administrative vehicle, ambulances, firefighting equipment and vehicles and up to two buses for employees’ transportation to and from the Free Economic Zones;
  • treatment of goods destined into Free Economic Zones as transit goods;
  • access to competitive, modern and reliable services available within the Free Economic Zones; and
  • subject to compliance with applicable conditions and procedures for foreign exchange and payment of tax whenever appropriate unconditional transfer through any authorized dealer bank in freely convertible currency of:

(i) net profits or dividends attributable to the investment;

(ii) payments in respect of loan servicing where a foreign loan has been obtained;

(iii) royalties, fees and charges ifor any technology transfer agreement;

(iv) the remittance of proceeds in the event of sale or liquidation of the business enterprises or any interest attributable to the investment;

(v) payments of emoluments and other benefits to foreign personnel employed in Tanzania in connection with the business enterprise; twenty percent of total turnover is allowed to be sold to the local market and is subject to the payment of all taxes;

  • twenty percent of total turnover is allowed to be sold to the local market and is subject to the payment of all taxes;
  • hundred percent foreign ownership is allowed ; and
  • no limit to the duration that goods may be stored in the Freeport Zones.

2. For purposes of this section investors licensed primarily for export markets are investors whose exports are more than eighty percent of total annual production.

Incentives and allowances outside Free Economic Zones

1. Approved investor investing outside Free Economic Zones, may be granted the:

  • exemption from payment of import duty, excise duty Value Added Tax and other similar taxes on machinery, equipment, spare parts, vehicles and other input necessary and exclusively required by that enterprise during construction period indicated in the Investment Certificate;
  • exemption from payment of business license fee for the first three months of trial operation;
  • corporate tax exemption for up to five years;
  • hundred percent foreign ownership;
  • hundred percent retention of all profits after tax;
  • hundred percent allowance Research and Development; and
  • hundred percent allowance for free repatriation of profit after tax.

2. Without prejudice to the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Part, approved investor investing in manufacturing sector may further be granted the:

  • exemption from payment of any tax on all goods produced for exports;
  • exemption from payment of trade levy for raw materials and industrial inputs procured from Tanzania Mainland;
  • exemption from payment of import duty, Value Added Tax and other similar taxes on raw and packaging materials during project operations;
  • exemption of Income Tax on interest on registered borrowed capital; and
  • hundred percent allowance investment deduction on capital expenditure within five years;

3. Without prejudice to the provisions of paragraph 1 of this Part, Approved Investor investing in real estate business may also be granted the:

  • exemption of income tax on interest on borrowed capital;
  • stamp duty exemption;
  • hundred percent allowance investment deduction on capital expenditure within five years; and
  • capital gains tax on properties sold or purchased.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

Tanzania’s export processing zones (EPZs) and special economic zones (SEZs) are assigned geographical areas or industries designated to undertake specific economic activities with special regulations and infrastructure requirements. EPZ status can also be extended to stand-alone factories at any geographical location. EPZ status requires the export of 80 percent or more of the goods produced. SEZ status has no export requirement, allowing manufacturers to sell their goods locally. As of March 2018, there were 14 designated EPZ/SEZ industrial parks, 10 of which are in development, and 75 stand-alone EPZ factories.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

The Non-Citizens (Employment Regulation) Act (see Section 12 Labor Policies and Practices below) requires employers to attempt to fill positions with Tanzanian citizens before seeking work permits for foreign employees, and to develop plans to transition all positions held by foreign employees to local employees over time.

Because the local content (LC) initiative cuts across all economic sectors, the government decided that oversight of LC development should take a multi-sector approach, rather than being confined to a single ministry or sector. In 2015, the government directed the National Economic Empowerment Council (NEEC) to oversee implementation of local empowerment initiatives. The objective of the local content policy is to put local products and services – delivered by businesses owned and operated by Tanzanians – in an advantageous position to exploit opportunities emanating from inbound foreign direct investments. In 2015, the GoT enacted The Petroleum Act and, subsequently, issued The Petroleum (Local Content) Regulations 2017. Similarly, in 2017, the GoT amended mining laws, issuing The Mining (Local Content) Regulations 2018. (See Chapter 4: Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment for more on recent local content laws.)

As of November 2019, Bank of Tanzania (BoT) regulations require banks to physically house their primary data centers in Tanzania or face steep penalties. The Tanzanian Bankers Association is appealing the requirement as it is cumbersome, expensive, and contrary to industry best practices.

In 2016, the GoT launched a USD 94 million national data center (NDC), which is operated by the GoT’s Telecommunications Corporation (TTC). Under the Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation (TTC) Act 2017, the TTC plans, builds, operates and maintains the “strategic telecommunications infrastructure,” which is defined as transport core infrastructure, data center and other infrastructure that the GoT proclaims “strategic” via official public notice.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

All land is owned by the government and procedures for obtaining a lease or certificate of occupancy may be complex and lengthy. Less than 15 percent of land has been surveyed, and registration of title deeds is handled manually, mainly at the local level. Foreign investors may occupy land for investment purposes through a government-granted right of occupancy (“derivative rights” facilitated by TIC), or through sub-leases from a granted right of occupancy. Foreign investors may also partner with Tanzanian leaseholders to gain land access.

Land may be leased for up to 99 years, but the law does not allow individual Tanzanians to sell land to foreigners. There are opportunities for foreigners to lease land, including through TIC, which has designated specific plots of land (a land bank) to be made available to foreign investors. Foreign investors may also enter into joint ventures with Tanzanians, in which case the Tanzanian provides the use of the land (but retains ownership, i.e., the leasehold).

Secured interests in property are recognized and enforced. Though TIC maintains a land bank, restrictions on foreign ownership may significantly delay investments. Land not in the land bank must go through a lengthy approval process by local-level authorities, the Ministry of Lands, Housing, Human Settlements Development (MoLHHSD), and the President’s Office to be designated as “general land,” which may be titled for investment and sale.

The MoLHHSD handles registration of mortgages and rights of occupancies and the Office of the Registrar of Titles issues titles and registers mortgage deeds. Title deeds are recognized as collateral for securing loans from banks. In January 2018, the GoT amended the land law, requiring that loan proceeds secured by mortgaging underdeveloped land be used solely to develop the specific piece of land used as collateral. The changes apply to general land managed by the MoLHHSD’s Commissioner for Lands, who must receive a report from the lender showing how loan proceeds will be used to develop the land. The law does not apply to village land allocated by village councils, which cannot be mortgaged to a financial institution.

Tanzania’s Registering Property rank in the World Bank’s 2020 Ease of Doing Business report deteriorated from 142 in 2018 to 146 in 2019 and 2020. According to the report, it takes eight procedures and 67 days to register property compared the Sub-Saharan Africa average of 51.6 days.

Intellectual Property Rights

The GoT’s Copyright Society of Tanzania (COSOTA) is responsible for registration and enforcement of copyrighted materials, while the Business Registrations and Licensing Agency (BRELA) within the Ministry of Trade administers trademark and patent registration. o It is the responsibility of the rights holders to enforce their rights where relevant, retaining their own counsel and advisors. The Fair Competition Commission (FCC) promotes competition, protects consumers against unfair market conduct, and has quasi-judicial powers to determine trademark and patent infringement cases. The FCC is also tasked with combating the sale of counterfeit merchandise. However, the Tanzania Medicines and Medical Devices Authority (TMDA) handles counterfeit human medicines, cosmetics, and packaged food materials. and its mandate is stipulated in the Tanzania Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics Act (TFDCA) as per the amendment of 2019. Despite its efforts, limited resources make it difficult for the GoT to adequately combat counterfeiting.

Tanzania is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) 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/ .

6. Financial Sector

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

Tanzania’s Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) is a self-listed publicly-owned company. In 2013, the DSE launched a second tier market, the Enterprise Growth Market (EGM) with lower listing requirements designed to attract small and medium sized companies with high growth potential. As of December 2017, DSE’s total market capitalization reached USD 10.5 billion, a 20.6 percent increase over the previous year’s figure. The Capital Markets and Securities Authority (CMSA) Act facilitates the free flow of capital and financial resources to support the capital market and securities industry. Tanzania, however, restricts the free flow of investment in and out of the country, and Tanzanians cannot sell or issue securities abroad unless approved by the CMSA.

Under the Capital Markets and Securities (Foreign Investors) Regulation 2014, there is no aggregate value limitation on foreign ownership of listed non-government securities. Despite progress, the country’s capital account is not fully liberalized and only foreign individuals or companies from other EAC nations are permitted to participate in the government securities market. Even with this recent development allowing EAC participation, ownership of government securities is still limited to 40 percent of each security issued.

Tanzania’s Electronic and Postal Communications Act 2010 amended in 2016 by the Finance Act 2016 requires telecom companies to list 25 percent of their shares via an initial public offering (IPO) on the DSE. Of the seven telecom companies that filed IPO applications with the CMSA, only Vodacom’s application received approval. TiGo’s IPO is reportedly close to approval.

As part of the Mining (Minimum Shareholding and Public Offering) Regulations 2016, large scale mining operators were required to float a 30 percent stake on the DSE by October 7, 2018. In February 2017 the GoT moved the date to August 23, 2017. To date, no mining companies have listed on the DSE.

Money and Banking System

Tanzania’s financial inclusion rate increased significantly over the past decade thanks to mobile phones and mobile banking. However, participation in the formal banking sector remains low. Low private sector credit growth and high non-performing loan (NPL) rates are persistent problems.

According to the IMF’s most recent Financial System Stability Assessment, Tanzania’s bank-dominated financial sector is small, concentrated, and at a relatively nascent stage of development. Financial services provision is dominated by commercial banks, with the ten largest institutions being preeminent in terms of mobilizing savings and intermediating credit. The report found that nearly half of Tanzania’s 45 banks are vulnerable to adverse shocks and risk insolvency in the event of a global financial crisis. (Source: https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/CR/Issues/2018/12/04/United-Republic-of-Tanzania-Financial-Sector-Assessment-Program-Press-Release-Staff-Report-46418 )

The two largest banks are CRDB Bank and National Microfinance Bank (NMB), which represent almost 30 percent of the market. The only U.S. bank is Citibank Tanzania Limited. Private sector companies have access to commercial credit instruments including documentary credits (letters of credit), overdrafts, term loans, and guarantees. Foreign investors may open accounts and earn tax-free interest in Tanzanian commercial banks.

The Banking and Financial Institution Act 2006 established a framework for credit reference bureaus, permits the release of information to licensed reference bureaus, and allows credit reference bureaus to provide to any person, upon a legitimate business request, a credit report. Currently, there are two private credit bureaus operating in Tanzania – Credit Info Tanzania Limited and Dun & Bradstreet Credit Bureau Tanzania Limited.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange

Tanzanian regulations permit unconditional transfers through any authorized bank in freely convertible currency of net profits, repayment of foreign loans, royalties, fees charged for foreign technology, and remittance of proceeds. The only official limit on transfers of foreign currency is on cash carried by individuals traveling abroad, which cannot exceed USD 10,000 over a period of 40 days. Investors rarely use convertible instruments.

The Bank of Tanzania’s new Bureau de Change regulations with stringent requirements came into force in June 2019. The regulations include a minimum capital requirement of TZS 1 billion (Approx. USD 431,000) and a non-interest bearing deposit of USD 100,000 with the Bank of Tanzania (the regulator). Regulations also require the business premises to be fitted with CCTV cameras, and new stringent procedures and policies for detecting and reporting money laundering and terrorism finance. Bank of Tanzania closed more than ninety percent of all forex shops in the country, stating that they did not pass inspection for compliance with these requirements. In response, commercial banks and Tanzania Posts Corporation were licensed to provide forex services.

The value of the Tanzanian currency, the shilling, is determined by a free-floating exchange rate system based on supply and demand in international foreign exchange markets. However, Interbank Foreign Exchange Market (IFEM) and the rates quoted by commercial banks and exchange bureaus often vary considerably. There are reports that the Bank of Tanzania has stepped in several times over the past few years to stabilize the exchange rate.

Remittance Policies

There are no recent changes or plans to change investment remittance policies that either tighten or relax access to foreign exchange for investment remittances.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

Tanzania does not have a sovereign wealth fund.

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Public enterprises do not compete under the same terms and conditions as private enterprises because they have access to government subsidies and other benefits. SOEs are active in the power, communications, rail, telecommunications, insurance, aviation, and port sectors. SOEs generally report to ministries and are led by a board. Typically, a presidential appointee chairs the board, which usually includes private sector representatives. SOEs are not subjected to hard budget constraints. SOEs do not discriminate against or unfairly burden foreigners, though they do have access to sovereign credit guarantees.

As of June 2019, the GoT’s Treasury Registrar reported shares and interests in 266 public parastatals, companies and statutory corporations. (See  http://www.tro.go.tz/index.php/en/latest-news/382-treasury-registrar-sets-record-with-552pc-increase-in-annual-dividend )

Relevant ministry officials usually appoint SOEs’ board of directors to serve preset terms under what is intended to be a competitive process. As in a private company, senior management report to the board of directors.

Privatization Program

The government retains a strong presence in energy, mining, telecommunication services, and transportation. The government is increasingly empowering the state-owned Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation Limited (TTCL) with the objective of safeguarding the national security, promoting socio-economic development, and managing strategic communications infrastructure. The government also acquired 51 percent of Airtel Telecommunication Company Limited and became the majority shareholder. In the past, the GoT has sought foreign investors to manage formerly state-run companies in public-private partnerships, but successful privatizations have been rare. Though there have been attempts to privatize certain companies, the process is not always clear and transparent.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Responsible business conduct (RBC) includes respecting human rights, environmental protection, labor relations and financial accountability, and it is practiced by a number of large foreign firms. Tanzania has laws covering labor and environmental issues. The Employment and Labor Relations Act (ELRA) establishes labor standards, rights and duties, while the Labor Institutions Act (LIA) specifies the government entities charged with administering labor laws.

The GoT’s National Environment Management Council (NEMC) undertakes enforcement, compliance, review and monitoring of environmental impact assessments; performs research; facilitates public participation in environmental decision-making; raises environmental awareness; and collects and disseminates environmental information. Stakeholders, however, have expressed concerns over whether the NEMC has sufficient funding and capacity to handle its broad mandate.

There are no legal requirements for public disclosure of RBC, and the GoT has not yet addressed executive compensation standards. Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) listed companies, however, must release legally required information to shareholders and the general public. In addition, the DSE signed a voluntary commitment with the United Nations Sustainable Stock Exchanges Initiative in June 2016, to promote long-term sustainable investments and improve environmental, social and corporate governance. Tanzania has accounting standards compatible with international accounting bodies.

The Tanzanian government does not usually factor RBC into procurement decisions. The GoT is responsible for enforcing local laws, however, the media regularly reports on corruption cases where offenders allegedly avoid sanctions. There have also been reports of corporate entities collaborating with local governments to carry out controversial undertakings that may not be in the best interest of the local population.

Some foreign companies have engaged NGOs that monitor and promote RBC to avoid adversarial confrontations. In addition, some of the multinational companies who are signatories to the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs) have taken the lead and appointed NGOs to conduct programs to mitigate conflicts between the mining companies, surrounding communities, local government officials and the police.

Tanzania is a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) and in 2015 Tanzania enacted the Extractive Industries Transparency and Accountability Act, which demands that all new concessions, contracts and licenses are made available to the public. The government produces EITI reports that disclose revenues from the extraction of its natural resources.

9. Corruption

Tanzania has laws and institutions designed to combat corruption and illicit practices. It is a party to the UN Convention against Corruption, but it is not a signatory to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery. Although corruption is still viewed as a major problem, President Magufuli’s focus on anti-corruption has translated into an increased judiciary budget, new corruption cases, and a decline in perceived corruption, especially low-level corruption. This improvement is partly attributed to instituting electronic services which reduce the opportunity for corruption through human interactions at agencies such as the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA), the Business Registration and Licensing Authority (BRELA), and the Port Authority.

Tanzania has three institutions specifically focused on anti-corruption. The Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau (PCCB) prevents corruption, educates the public, and enforces the law against corruption. The Ethics Secretariat and its associated Ethics Tribunal under the President’s office enforces compliance with ethical standards defined in the Public Leadership Codes of Ethics Act 1995.

Companies and individuals seeking government tenders are required to submit a written commitment to uphold anti-bribery policies and abide by a compliance program. These steps are designed to ensure that company management complies with anti-bribery polices.

The GoT is currently implementing its National Anti-Corruption Strategy and Action Plan Phase III (2017-2022) (NACSAP III) which is a decentralized approach focused on broad government participation. NACSAP III has been prepared to involve a broader domain of key stakeholders including GoT local officials, development partners, civil society organization (CSOs), and the private sector. The strategy puts more emphasis on areas that historically have been more prone to corruption in Tanzania such as oil, gas, and other natural resources. Despite the outlined role of the GoT, CSOs, NGOs and media find it increasingly difficult to investigate corruption in the current political environment.

President Magufuli’s current anti-corruption campaign has affected public discourse about the prevailing climate of impunity, and some officials are reluctant to engage openly in corruption. Transparency International (TI), which ranks perception of corruption in public sector, gave Tanzania a score of 37 points out of 100 for 2019 and 36 points for 2018. The Afrobarometer report estimates that between 2016 and 2018 the corruption increase in the previous 12 months was only 10% in Tanzania, the lowest in Africa. While for the same period, 23% of the respondents voted that Tanzania is doing a bad job of fighting corruption, again the lowest in Africa.

Some critics, however, question how effective the initiative will be in tackling deeper structural issues that have allowed corruption to thrive. Despite President Magufuli’s focus on anti-corruption, there has been little effort to institutionalize what often appear to be ad hoc measures, a lack of corruption convictions, and persistent underfunding of the country’s main anti-corruption bodies.

Resources to Report Corruption

The Director General
Prevention and Combating of Corruption Bureau
P.O.  Box 4865, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Tel: +255 22 2150043   Email: dgeneral@pccb.go.tz

Executive Director
Legal and Human Rights Centre
P.O.  Box 75254, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Tel: +255 22 2773038/48   Email: lhrc@humanrights.or.tz

10. Political and Security Environment

Since gaining independence, Tanzania has enjoyed a relatively high degree of peace and stability compared to its neighbors in the region.  Tanzania has held five national multi-party elections since 1995, the most recent in 2015. The next national elections are scheduled for October 2020. Mainland Tanzania government elections have been generally free of political violence.  Elections on the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar, however, have been marred by political violence several times since 1995, including in 2015.

October 2015 general elections were conducted in a largely open and transparent atmosphere; however, simultaneous elections in Zanzibar were controversially annulled after an opposition candidate declared victory.  A heavily criticized re-run election was held on March 20, 2016 despite an opposition boycott. Since the 2015 election, the GoT has placed several restrictions on political activity, including severely limiting the ability of opposition political parties and civil society organizations to debate issues publicly, or assemble peacefully.  Elections in 2018 and 2019 were marred by allegations of irregularities and suppression of opposition candidates and voters. National elections, including Presidential elections on the Mainland and Zanzibar are scheduled for October 2020.

In addition to monitoring the political climate, foreign investors remain concerned about land tenure issues. Although the government owns all land in Tanzania and oversees the issuance of land leases of up to 99 years, many Tanzanian citizens judge that foreign investors exploit Tanzanian resources, sometimes resulting in conflict between investors and nearby residents. In Arusha and Mtwara, among other areas, conflicts have led to violence, prompting the GoT to emphasize its commitment to supporting foreign investment while also ensuring the intended benefit of the investments to Tanzanian citizens.

There are also concerns about insecurity spilling over from neighboring countries, particularly along the Tanzania-Mozambique border, as well as from conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

The GoT’s Five Year Development Plan 2016-2021 (FYDP II), which is in its fourth year of implementation, acknowledges Tanzania’s shortage of skilled labor and the importance of professional training to support industrialization. The Integrated Labor Force Survey Analytical Report of 2014 (most recent) found that only 3.6 percent of Tanzania’s 20-million-person labor force is highly skilled. On the regional front, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya have committed to the EAC’s 2012 Mutual Recognition Agreement of engineers, making for a more regionally competitive engineering market.

In Tanzania, labor and immigration regulations permit foreign investors to recruit up to five expatriates with the possibility of additional work permits granted under specific conditions.

The Non-Citizens (Employment Regulation) Act 2015 introduced stricter rules for hiring foreign workers. Under the Act, the Labor Commissioner must determine if “all possible efforts have been explored to obtain a local expert” before approving a non-citizen work permit. In addition, employers must submit “succession plans” for foreign employees, detailing how knowledge and skills will be transferred to local employees.

Non-citizens may be granted two-year work permits, renewable up to five years, while foreign investors may be granted ten-year work permits which may be extended if the investor is deemed to be contributing to the economy and well-being of Tanzanians. Some stakeholders fear that this provision creates an opening for corruption and arbitrarily prejudicial decisions against foreign investors. Since the passage of the Act, GoT officials have been conducting aggressive “special permit inspections” to verify the validity of work permits. The process for obtaining work permits remains immensely bureaucratic, opaque at times, and slow.

Mainland Tanzania’s minimum wage, which has not changed since July 2013, is set by categories covering 12 employment sectors. The minimum wage ranges from TZS 100,000 (USD 45) per month for agricultural laborers to TZS 400,000 (USD 180) per month for laborers employed in the mining sector. Zanzibar’s minimum wage is TZS 300,000 (USD 135), after being increased from TZS 150,000 (USD 68) in April 2017.

Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar governments maintain separate labor laws. Workers on the Mainland have the right to join trade unions. Any company with a recognized trade union possessing bargaining rights can negotiate in a Collective Bargaining Agreement. In the public sector, the government sets wages administratively, including for employees of state-owned enterprises.

Mainland workers have the legal right to strike and employers have the right to a lockout. The law restricts the right to strike when doing so may endanger the health of the population. Workers in certain sectors are restricted from striking or subject to limitations. In 2017, the GoT issued regulations that strengthened child labor laws, created minimum one-year terms for certain contracts, expanded the scope of what is considered discrimination, and changed contract requirements for outsourcing agreements. In 2019, the government adopted a new National Strategy Against Child Labor, though it has not officially been implemented.

The labor law in Zanzibar applies to both public and private sector workers. Zanzibar government workers have the right to strike as long as they follow procedures outlined in the Employment Act of 2005, but they are not allowed to join Mainland-based labor unions. Zanzibar requires a union with 50 or more members to be registered and sets literacy standards for trade union officers. An estimated 40 percent of Zanzibar’s workforce is unionized. (See Chapter 4: Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment for more on recent local content laws.)

12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Other Investment Insurance Programs

In 1996, the U.S. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the predecessor agency to U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), signed an incentive agreement with the GoT. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has in principle agreed that the existing OPIC agreement will allow for the International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to operate in Tanzania. The current portfolio includes projects in agriculture, energy, micro-finance, and logistics. In addition, the DFC inherits USAID’s Development Credit Authority (DCA)’s active portfolio including guarantees to several banks to encourage lending to small and medium sized enterprises.

Tanzania is also a member of the World Bank’s Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), which offers political risk insurance and technical assistance to attract FDI.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) 2018 $58 Billion 2018 $58 Billion www.worldbank.org/en/country/Tanzania 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source USG or international statistical source USG or internationalSource of data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2018 $1,444 BEA
https://apps.bea.gov/
international/factsheet/
 
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2018 $1 million BEA
https://www.bea.gov/
international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data
 
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A 2018 5.5% UNCTAD
https://unctad.org/en/Pages/DIAE/
World%20Investment%20Report/
Country-Fact-Sheets.aspx
 

* Source for Host Country Data:
National Bureau of Statistics (NBS): 2018 GDP: TZS 129.4 trillion (www.nbs.go.tz)
Bank of Tanzania (BoT): 2018 Investment Report (www.bot.go.tz )

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
The IMF’s The Bank of Tanzania reports the top source countries for inward direct investment to Mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar separately. Data on outward direct investment is not available.

According to the Bank of Tanzania, the top sources for inward foreign investment into Mainland Tanzania in 2017 were: United Kingdom, South Africa, Norway, Netherlands, Nigeria, Mauritius, and Kenya.

According to the Bank of Tanzania, the top sources for inward foreign investment into Zanzibar in 2017 were: United Kingdom, Italy, Kenya, Luxembourg, South Africa, Spain, and the United States.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment
Data not available.

14. Contact for More Information

Economic Officer
U.S.  Embassy Dar es Salaam
686 Old Bagamoyo Road
Msasani, Dar es Salaam
Tel: 255-22-229-4000
drseconomic@state.gov

Uganda

Executive Summary

Uganda’s investment climate continues to present both important opportunities and major challenges for U.S. investors. With a market economy, ideal climate, ample arable land, young and largely English-speaking population, and at least 1.4 billion barrels of recoverable oil, Uganda offers numerous opportunities for investors. Uganda’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 6.5 percent in fiscal year (FY) 2018/2019. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had projected 5.5 – 6 percent growth in FY 2019/2020, though the combined impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions, the current locust infestation, and the negative economic effects associated with Uganda’s impending elections are likely to reduce this figure. Uganda maintains a liberal trade and foreign exchange regime. Foreign direct investment (FDI) surged by a whopping 80 percent to USD 1.75 billion in FY 2018/2019, driven by the construction and manufacturing sub-sectors. Uganda’s power, agricultural, construction, infrastructure, technology, and healthcare sectors present important opportunities for U.S. business and investment.

President Yoweri Museveni and government officials vocally welcome foreign investment in Uganda. However, the government’s actions sometimes do not support its rhetoric. Closing political space, poor economic management, endemic corruption, growing sovereign debt, weak rule of law, and the government’s failure to invest adequately in the health and education sectors all create risks for investors. U.S. firms may also find themselves competing with third country firms that cut costs and win contracts by disregarding environmental regulations and labor rights, dodging taxes, and bribing officials. Shortages of skilled labor and a complicated land tenure system also impede investment.

An uncertain mid-to-long-range political environment also increases risk to foreign businesses and investors. Domestic political tensions have increased in the run-up to the 2021 elections as 34-year incumbent President Museveni faces new challengers and a disenfranchised youth demographic that comprises 77 percent of the population.

On the legislative front, in a move aimed ostensibly at reducing the repatriation of hard currency profits, in October 2019, the government approved the Communications Licensing Framework which imposed a 20 percent mandatory stock listing requirement on mobile telecommunication service providers. The same framework also requires telecommunication infrastructure companies to sell 20 percent of their equity to Ugandan citizens.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perception Index 2019 137 of 180 https://www.transparency.org/cpi2019
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2020 116 of 190 https://www.doingbusiness.org/en/data/
exploreeconomies/uganda
Global Innovation Index 2019 102 of 129 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2017 USD 42 million https://apps.bea.gov/international/
factsheet/factsheet.cfm?Area=446
World Bank GNI per capita 2018 USD 620 https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/
NY.GNP.PCAP.CD?locations=UG

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

The Ugandan government and authorities vocally welcome FDI, and the country’s free market economy, liberal financial system, and more than 40 million-person consumer market attract investors. However, rampant corruption, weak rule of law, and an increasingly aggressive Uganda Revenue Authority create a challenging business environment.

The 2019 Investment Code Act (ICA) established both benefits and challenges to FDI. It abolished restrictions on technology transfer and repatriation of funds by foreign investors, and established new incentives (e.g., tax waivers) for investment. However, the ICA also set a minimum value of USD 250,000 for FDI and a yet-to-be-specified minimum value for portfolio investment. Additionally, the ICA authorized the Government of Uganda (GOU) to alter these thresholds at any time, thereby creating potential uncertainty for investors. Under the ICA, investment licenses carry specific performance conditions varying by sector, such as requiring investors to permit the Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) to monitor operations, or to employ or train Ugandan citizens, or use Ugandan goods and services to the greatest extent possible. Further, the ICA empowers the GOU to revoke investment licenses of entities that “tarnish the good repute of Uganda as an attractive base for investment.” The government has yet to revoke any investor license on this ground.

In October 2019, the GOU passed the Communications Licensing Framework (CLF) which requires telecommunication (telecom) companies to list 20 percent of their equity on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE), with the aim of increasing local ownership and reducing the repatriation of profits. Additionally, the CLF requires communication infrastructure companies to sell 20 percent of their equity to citizens of Uganda. However, no company has yet implemented these requirements, and in the first “test case,” the GOU exempted a telecom infrastructure company from the required equity sale.

The Uganda Investment Authority (UIA) facilitates investment by granting licenses to foreign investors, as well as promoting, facilitating, and supervising investments. It provides a “one-stop” shop online where investors can apply for a license, pay fees, register businesses, apply for land titles, and apply for tax identification numbers. In practice, investors may also need to liaise with other authorities to complete legal requirements. The UIA also triages complaints from foreign investors. The UIA’s website (www.ugandainvest.go.ug ) and the Business in Development Network Guide to Uganda (www.bidnetwork.org ) provide information on the laws and reporting requirements for foreign investors. In practice, investors often ultimately end up bypassing the UIA after experiencing bureaucratic delays and corruption. For larger investments, companies have reported that political support from a high-ranking Ugandan official is a prerequisite.

President Museveni hosts an annual investors’ roundtable to consult a select group of foreign and local investors on increasing investment, occasionally including U.S. investors. Every Ugandan embassy has a trade and investment desk charged with advertising investment opportunities in the country.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Except for land, foreigners have the right to own property, establish businesses, and make investments. Ugandan law permits foreign investors to acquire domestic enterprises and to establish green field investments. The Companies Act of 2010 permits the registration of companies incorporated outside of Uganda.

Foreigners seeking to invest in the oil and gas sector must register with the Petroleum Authority of Uganda (PAU) to be added to its National Supplier Database. More information on this process is available on the Embassy’s website (select – Registering a U.S. Firm on the National Supplier Database): https://ug.usembassy.gov/business/commercial-opportunities/

The Petroleum Exploration and Development Act and the Petroleum Refining, Conversion, Transmission, and Midstream Storage Act require companies in the oil sector to prioritize using local goods and labor when possible, and give the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development (MEMD) the authority to determine the extent of local content requirements in the sector.

All investors must obtain an investment license from the UIA. The UIA evaluates investment proposals based on a number of criteria, including potential for generation of new earnings; savings of foreign exchange; the utilization of local materials, supplies, and services; the creation of employment opportunities in Uganda; the introduction of advanced technology or upgrading of indigenous technology; and the contribution to locally or regionally balanced socioeconomic development.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

The United Nations Commission on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) issued its World Investment Report, 2019, available at: https://unctad.org/en/Pages/DIAE/World%20Investment%20Report/World_Investment_Report.aspx 

The International Monetary Fund issued an Article IV Consultation and Review in 2020, and its concluding statement is available at: https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2020/02/03/pr2031-uganda-imf-staff-concludes-visit 

The World Trade Organization (WTO) issued it Trade Policy Review in 2019; the report is available at: https://docs.wto.org/dol2fe/Pages/FE_Search/FE_S_S009-DP.aspx?language=E&CatalogueIdList=254764,251521,117054,95202,80262,80232,82036,106989&CurrentCatalogueIdIndex=0&FullTextHash=&HasEnglishRecord=True&HasFrenchRecord=True&HasSpanishRecord=True 

Business Facilitation

The UIA one-stop shop website assists in registering businesses and investments. In practice, investors and businesses may need to liaise with multiple authorities to set up shop, and the UIA lacks the capacity to play a robust business facilitation role. According to the 2020 World Bank Doing Business report, business registration takes an average of 25 days.

Prospective investors can also register online and apply for an investment license at https://www.ebiz.go.ug/ . The UIA also assists with the establishment of local subsidiaries of foreign firms by assisting in registration with the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) (http://ursb.go.ug/ ). New businesses are required to obtain a Tax Identification Number from the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA), which they can do online (https://www.ura.go.ug/myTin.do ) or through the UIA. Businesses must also secure a trade license from the municipality or local government in the area in which they intend to operate. Investors in specialized sectors such as finance, telecoms, and petroleum often need an additional permit from the relevant ministry in coordination with the UIA.

Under the Uganda Free Zones Act of 2014, the government continues to establish free trade zones for foreign investors seeking to produce goods for export and domestic use. Such investors receive a range of benefits including tax rebates on imported inputs and exported products. An investor seeking a free zone license may lodge an application with the Uganda Free Zones Authority (https://freezones.go.ug/ ).

Outward Investment

The GOU does not promote or incentivize outward investment, nor restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.

3. Legal Regime

Transparency of the Regulatory System

On paper, Uganda’s legal and regulatory systems are generally transparent and non-discriminatory, and comply with international norms. In practice, bureaucratic hurdles and corruption significantly impact all investors, but with disproportionate effect on foreigners learning to navigate a parallel informal system. While Ugandan law requires open and transparent competition on government project tenders, U.S. investors have alleged that endemic corruption means that competitors not subject to the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, or similar legislation, often pay bribes to win awards.

Ugandan law allows the banking, insurance, and media sectors to establish self-regulatory processes through private associations. The government continues to regulate these sectors, however, and the self-regulatory practices generally do not discriminate against foreign investors.

Potential investors must be aware of local, national, and supra-national regulatory requirements in Uganda. For example, EAC rules on free movement of goods and services would affect an investor planning to export to the regional market. Similarly, regulations issued by local governments regarding operational hours or the location of factories would only affect an investor’s decision at the local level. Foreign investors should liaise with relevant ministries to understand regulations in the proposed sector for investment.

Uganda’s accounting procedures are broadly transparent and consistent with international norms, though full implementation remains a challenge. Publicly listed companies must comply with accounting procedures consistent with the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board.

Governmental agencies making regulations typically engage in only limited public consultation. Draft bills similarly are subject to limited public consultation and review. Local media typically cover public comment only on more controversial bills. Although the government publishes laws and regulations in full in the Uganda Gazette, the gazette is not available online and can only be accessed through purchase of hard copies at the Uganda Printing and Publishing Corporation offices. The Uganda Legal Information Institute also publishes all enacted laws on its website (https://ulii.org/ ).

Uganda’s court system and Inspector General of Government are responsible for ensuring the government adheres to its administrative processes, however, anecdotal reports suggest that corruption significantly undermines the judiciary’s oversight role.

In June 2019, Members of Parliament passed the Landlord and Tenants Bill that seeks to regulate the relationship between landlords and tenants. For foreign investors, the bill imposes a restriction against charging tenants rental fees in foreign currency, caps increment on rental charges to no more than 10 percent annually, and provides tenants with significantly more rights. President Museveni has yet to sign the bill into law. If signed into law, this bill could undermine investment in the real estate sector by giving disproportionate rights to tenants (commercial and residential) over property owners. The GOU has struggled to fully implement regulatory reforms announced in prior years.

Generally, there is legal redress to review regulatory mechanisms through the courts, and the process is made public.

Uganda’s legislative process includes public consultations, and, as needed, subject matter expert presentations before parliament; however, not all comments received by regulators are made publicly available and parliament’s decisions tend to be primarily politically driven. Formal scientific analyses of the potential impact of a pending regulation are seldom conducted.

Public finances are generally transparent and budget documents are available online. The government annually publishes the Annual Debt Statistical Bulletin, which contains the country’s debt obligations including status of public debt, cost of debt servicing, and liabilities. However, the government’s significant use of supplementary and classified budget accounts undermines parliamentary and public oversight of public finances.

International Regulatory Considerations

Per treaty, Uganda’s regulatory systems must conform to the below supranational regulatory systems. In practice, domestication of supranational legislation remains imperfect: -African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP)

  • African, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States (ACP)
  • African Union (AU)
  • Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)
  • Commonwealth of Nations
  • East African Community (EAC)

Uganda, through the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) is a member of ISO, Codex Alimentarius and International Organization of Legal Metrology (OIML), and Afrinet. Uganda applies European Union directives and standards, but with modifications.

Uganda is a member of the WTO and notifies the WTO Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) of all draft technical regulations through the Ugandan Ministry of Trade’s National TBT Coordination Committee.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

Uganda’s legal system is based on English Common Law. The courts are responsible for enforcing contracts. Litigants must first submit commercial disputes for mediation either within the court system or to the government-run Center of Arbitration for Dispute Resolution (CADER). Uganda does not have a singular commercial law; multiple statutes touch on commercial and contractual law. A specialized commercial court decides commercial disputes. Approximately 80 percent of commercial disputes are resolved through mediation. Litigants may appeal commercial court decisions and regulatory and enforcement actions through the regular national court system.

While in theory independent, in practice there are credible reports that the executive may attempt to influence the courts in high-profile cases. More importantly for most investors, endemic corruption and significant backlogs hamper the judiciary’s impartiality and efficacy.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

The Constitution and ICA regulate FDI. The UIA provides an online “one-stop shop” for investors (www.ugandainvest.go.ug ).

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

Uganda does not have any specialized laws or institutions dedicated to competition-related concerns, although commercial courts occasionally handle disputes with competition elements. There was no significant competition related dispute handled by the courts in 2019.

Expropriation and Compensation

The constitution guarantees the right to property for all persons, domestic and foreign. It also prohibits the expropriation of property, except when in the “national interest” as eminent domain and preceded by compensation to the owner at fair market value. The GOU’s new policy requiring telecommunication companies to list or sell 20 percent of their equity is what some are calling a form of indirect expropriation. Particularly considering that the few Ugandans who could afford to purchase this equity are likely to be closely associated with the government.

In 1972, then President Idi Amin expropriated assets owned by ethnic Asians (Indians). The expropriation was extrajudicial and was ordered by presidential decree. The government did not allow judicial challenge to the expropriations, nor offer any compensation to the owners. The GOU has since returned the vast majority of the properties to the original owners or their representatives. There have not been any expropriations since, and government projects are often significantly delayed by judicial disputes over compensation for property the GOU seeks to expropriate under eminent domain.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Uganda is a party to both the ICSID Convention and the New York Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. The 2000 Domestic Arbitration and Conciliation Act incorporates the 1958 New York Convention.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

Pursuant to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, the courts and government in theory accept binding arbitration with foreign investors and between private parties. In practice, the overall challenges of the judiciary are likely to impede full enforcement. Uganda has not been involved in any official investment disputes with a U.S person in the last ten years; however, U.S. firms do complain about serious corruption in the award of government tenders.

Ugandan courts recognize and enforce foreign arbitral awards, including those issued against the government. The country is a party to the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. Additionally, the Arbitration and Conciliation Act creates a framework for the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards, including those against the government.

Uganda has not had any experience of extrajudicial action against foreign investors. However, in 1972, the government of then President Idi Amin extra judicially expropriated property owned by ethnic Asians.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

Ugandan law provides for arbitration and mediation of civil disputes. The legal framework on arbitration includes the Arbitration and Conciliation Act and Commercial Court Division Mediation Rules. Litigants must first submit all civil disputes to mediation before a court-appointed mediator. CADER is a statutory institution that facilitates the mediation and operates based on the UNCITRAL Arbitration rules. However, unrecorded private arbitration is the most effective investment dispute resolution mechanism in Uganda.

The Foreign Judgments Reciprocal Enforcement Act enables the recognition and enforcement of judgments and awards made by foreign courts.

There is no evidence that Ugandan courts favor state owned enterprises when arbitrating or settling disputes. However, court decisions are often influenced by corruption or high-level government officials.

Bankruptcy Regulations

The Bankruptcy Act of 1931, the Insolvency Act of 2011, as well as the Insolvency Regulations of 2013 generally align Uganda’s legal framework on insolvency with international standards. The 2020 World Bank Doing Business Report ranked Uganda 99 out of 190 countries for resolving insolvency. On average, Uganda recovers USD 0.39 per dollar, well above the sub-Saharan average of USD 0.20. Bankruptcy is not criminalized.

4. Industrial Policies

Investment Incentives

The Public Private Partnership Act of 2015 creates a legal framework for the government to partner with private investors, both local and foreign, to finance investments in key sectors. The government has undertaken joint ventures with foreign investors in the oil and gas sector and for infrastructure projects.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

The Uganda Free Zones Authority (UFZA) (https://freezones.go.ug/ ) regulates free trade zones, which offer a range of tax advantages. The government’s process in awarding free trade zone status is generally transparent. However, there have been reports that corrupt individuals in government are allocating free trade zones in return for bribes. By the end of 2019, UFZA issued three new Free Zone Licenses, increasing the number of Free Zones in the country to 16. UFZA states that the actual investment of the three new free zones was USD 21.74 million.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

The ICA does not impose any direct requirements regarding local employment or specify mandatory numbers for local employment in management positions. The broadness of its provisions, however, arguably leaves the door open for enforcement of local employment requirements. The Petroleum Exploration, Development, and Production Act and the Petroleum Refining, Conversion, Transmission, and Midstream Storage Act require investors in the oil sector to contribute to the creation of a local skilled Ugandan workforce. The National Local Content Bill, which is currently undergoing parliamentary review, would require companies to petition the GOU for permission to hire a non-Ugandan, in conjunction with the claim that no qualified Ugandan is available. Additionally, the bill requires companies to have a Ugandan deputy for every non-Ugandan senior manager and submit a clear plan to localize these positions to the governing authority.

While the UIA has significantly improved its processing of work permits and investment licenses for foreigners, bureaucratic hurdles, inconsistent enforcement, and corruption can still make obtaining visas and work permits onerous and expensive. All foreign investors must acquire an investment license from the UIA.

In as much as there is no specific localization law in Uganda, some sector specific laws impose localization requirements. The petroleum laws require foreign oil companies to prioritize the use of local goods and labor when available, and the MEMD has the authority to determine the extent of local content requirements in the sector. The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Act, which regulates government procurements, also imposes thresholds on the contracts for which a foreign company can apply. In the petroleum laws, MEMD has the responsibility to monitor companies in the oil sector to ensure they are meeting the local content requirements. Additionally, the Office of the Auditor General carries out audits to ensure adherence to local content requirements. These performance reviews can form grounds for granting incentives or enforcement of the restrictions. Since the 2013 oil laws were passed, no company has been punished for breaching local content rules. Investment incentives in Uganda are quite controversial because they apply on a case by case basis, even though the ICA lists seven grounds for granting investment incentives.

While there are no general requirements for foreign information technology (IT) providers to give the government any source code or information related to encryption, the National Information Technology Authority Act allows the Minister for Information, Communication, and Technology to order an IT provider to submit any information to the National Information Technology Authority (NITA). Similarly, the Computer Misuse Act allows the government to “compel a service provider…to co-operate and assist the competent authorities in the collection or recording of traffic data in real time, associated with specified communication transmitted by means of a computer system.” These regulatory requirements apply to all IT providers, both foreign and local. There are no measures to prevent or unduly impede companies from freely transmitting customer or other business-related data outside of Uganda. In 2017, however, the Bank of Uganda interpreted Uganda’s cyber security legislation as providing it with the mandate to require financial institutions to relocate their data centers to Uganda to provide the government with access to customers’ digital financial information. Citing customer privacy concerns, financial firms remain in negotiations with the Bank of Uganda over this policy.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Land rights are complicated in Uganda and present a significant barrier to investment. Uganda enforces property rights through the courts; however, corruption often influences final judgments. The Mortgage Act and associated regulations make provisions for mortgages, sub-mortgages, trusts, and other forms of lien. However, due to widespread corruption and an inefficient bureaucracy, investors frequently struggle with the integrity of land transactions and recording systems.

Foreigners cannot own land directly and may only acquire leases. Such leases cannot exceed 99 years. However, foreign investors can create a Ugandan-based firm to purchase and own real estate.

The Land Act provides for four forms of land tenure: freehold, customary, “Mailo” (a form of freehold), and leasehold. Freehold, leasehold, and Mailo tenure owners hold registered titles, while customary or indigenous communal landowners – who account for up to 80 percent of all landowners – do not. Ugandan law provides for the acquisition of prescriptive rights by individuals who settle onto land (squatters) and whose settlement on such land is unchallenged by the owner for at least twelve years.

Intellectual Property Rights

Ugandan law provides for the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), but enforcement mechanisms are weak. The country lacks the capacity to prevent piracy and counterfeit distribution. As a result, theft and infringement of IPR is common and widespread. Uganda did not enact any IP related laws and regulations in the past year.

Uganda does not track seizures of counterfeit goods or prosecutions of IPR violations. Agriculture experts estimate some 20 percent of agriculture products under copyright in Uganda are counterfeit. Uganda is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR)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 (http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ ).

Uganda is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR)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 (http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ ).

6. Financial Sector

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

The government generally welcomes foreign portfolio investment and has put in place a legal and institutional framework to manage such investments. The Capital Markets Authority (CMA) licenses brokers and dealers and oversees the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE), which is now trading the stock of 18 companies. Liquidity remains constrained to enter and exit sizeable positions on the USE. Capital markets are open to foreign investors and there are no restrictions for foreign investors to open a bank account in Uganda. However, the government imposes a 15 percent withholding tax on interest and dividends. Foreign-owned companies may trade on the stock exchange, subject to some share issuance requirements. The government respects IMF Article VIII and refrains from restricting payments and transfers for current international transactions.

Credit is available from commercial banks on market terms and foreign investors can access credit. However, the high yields on GOU-issued (risk-free) securities pushes up interest rates on commercial loans, undermining the private sector’s access to affordable credit.

Money and Banking System

Formal banking participation remains low, with only 20 percent of Ugandans having access to bank accounts, many via their membership in formal savings groups. However, only about five million Ugandans have bank accounts, while more than 24 million use mobile money to conduct basic financial transactions. Uganda’s banking and financial sector is generally healthy, though non-performing loans remain a problem. According to the Bank of Uganda’s 2019 Financial Stability Report, Uganda’s non-performing loan rate stood at 3.8 percent at the end of June 2019. Uganda has 26 commercial banks with the top six controlling at least 60 percent of the banking sector’s total assets, valued at USD 8.6 billion. The Bank of Uganda regulates the banking sector, and foreign banks may establish branches in the country. In February, the Financial Action Taskforce added Uganda to its “Grey List” due to the country’s insufficient implementation of its anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism policies. As a result, Uganda’s correspondent banking relationships will face increased oversight, increasing transaction costs, and potentially jeopardizing some correspondent banking relationships. Uganda does not restrict foreigners’ ability to establish a bank account.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange

Uganda keeps open capital accounts, and there are no restrictions on capital transfers in and out of Uganda. If, however, an investor benefited from tax incentives on the original investment, he or she will need to seek a “certificate of approval to “externalize” the funds. Investors may convert funds associated with any form of investment into any world currency. The Ugandan shilling (UGX) trades on a market-based floating exchange rate.

Remittance Policies

There are no restrictions for foreign investors on remittances to and from Uganda.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

In 2015, the government established the Uganda Petroleum Fund (PF) to receive and manage all government revenues from the oil and gas sector. By law, the government must spend a portion of proceeds from the fund on oil-related infrastructure, with parliament appropriating the remainder of revenues through the normal budget procedure. At the end of 2019, the PF had a balance of USD 20 million. The 2019 Auditor General’s report concluded that the absence of a policy regarding the management of the PF has led to inefficient and ineffective spending and investment decisions. In 2019, the GOU established the Petroleum Investment Advisory Committee (Committee) to oversee the investment of PF funds, however, the Committee did not pass the proposed Petroleum Investment Reserve Policy (Policy), which aimed to establish the investment guidelines. In the absence of the Policy, PF funds continue to be allocated to the national budget.

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Uganda has thirty State Owned Enterprises (SOEs). However, the GOU does not publish a list of its SOEs, and the public is unable to access detailed information on SOE ownership, total assets, total net income, or number of people employed. While there is insufficient information to assess the SOEs’ adherence to the OECD Guidelines of Corporate Governance, the GOU’s 2019 Office of Auditor General report noted corporate governance issues in some SOEs. SOEs do not get special financing terms and are subject to hard budget constraints. According to the Ugandan Revenue Authority Act, they have the same tax burden as the private sector. According to the Land Act, private enterprises have the same access to land as SOEs. One notable exception is the Uganda National Oil company (UNOC), which receives proprietary exploration data on new oil discoveries in Uganda. UNOC can then sell this information to the highest bidder in the private sector to generate income for its operations.

Privatization Program

The government privatized many SOEs in the 1990s. Uganda does not currently have a privatization program.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Awareness of responsible business conduct varies greatly among corporate actors in Uganda. No organizations formally monitor compliance with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) standards. CSR is not a requirement for an investor to obtain an investment license and CSR programs are voluntary. While government officials make statements encouraging CSR, there is no formal government program to monitor, require, or encourage CSR. In practice, endemic corruption often enables companies to engage in harmful or illegal practices with impunity. Regulations on human and labor rights, and consumer and environmental protection, are seldom and inconsistently enforced. Several non-governmental organizations attempt to hold companies accountable for poor behavior through “name-and-shame” campaigns, usually with limited success.

Uganda’s capacity and political will to regulate the mineral trade across its borders remain weak. Credible organizations allege that Uganda’s gold refining sector, led by the African Gold Refinery (AGR), relies on conflict minerals illicitly imported from neighboring countries, especially from the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo. While Uganda has no significant gold reserves, in FY 2018/2019, gold became the country’s largest export, totaling USD 1.06 billion.

Due to Uganda’s rampant corruption and culture of unaccountability, the GOU does not adequately enforce domestic laws related to human rights, labor rights, consumer protection, environmental protections, or other laws intended to protect individuals from adverse business impacts. According to UN Panel of Experts reports, AGR, Uganda’s largest refinery, does not adhere to OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas, and there is no indication the GOU is urging it to do so. Uganda announced in January 2019 that it would join the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative, however, is still in the process of fulfilling the requirements to become a member. Uganda has also not formally adopted the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights.

9. Corruption

Uganda has generally adequate laws to combat corruption, and an interlocking web of anti-corruption institutions. The Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority Act’s Code of Ethical Standards (Code) requires bidders and contractors to disclose any possible conflict of interest when applying for government contracts. However, endemic corruption remains a serious problem and a major obstacle to investment. Transparency International ranked Uganda 137 out of 180 countries in its 2019 Corruption Perception Index. While anti-corruption laws extend to family members of officials and political parties, in practice many well-connected individuals enjoy de facto impunity for corrupt acts and are rarely prosecuted in court.

The government does not require companies to adopt specific internal procedures to detect and prevent bribery of government officials. Larger private companies implement internal control policies; however, with 80 percent of the workforce in the informal sector, much of the private sector operates without such systems. While Uganda has signed and ratified the UN Anticorruption Convention, it is not yet party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions and does not protect non–governmental organizations investigating corruption. Some corruption watchdog organizations allege government harassment.

U.S. firms consistently identify corruption as a major hurdle to business and investment. Corruption in government procurement processes remains particularly problematic for foreign companies seeking to bid on GOU contracts.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contacts at government agency or agencies are responsible for combating corruption:
Justice Irene Mulyagonja
Inspector General of Government
Inspectorate of Government
Jubilee Insurance Centre, Plot 14, Parliament Avenue, Kampala
Telephone: +256-414-344-219
Website: www.igg.go.ug 

Public Procurement and Disposal of Public Assets Authority (PPDA)
UEDCL Towers Plot 39 Nakasero Road
P.O. Box 3925, Kampala Uganda
Telephone: +256-414-311100.
Email: info@ppda.go.ug
Website: https://www.ppda.go.ug/ 

Contact at “watchdog” organization:
Anti-Corruption Coalition Uganda
Cissy Kagaba
Telephone: +256-414-535-659
Email: kagabac@accu.or.ug
Website: http://accu.or.ug 

10. Political and Security Environment

Uganda has experienced periodic political violence associated with elections and other political activities. Security services routinely use excessive force to stop peaceful protests and demonstrations. There are no prominent examples in the past ten years of such violence leading to significant damage of projects or installations. There has been an uptick in crime over the past several years, and political tensions are likely to increase in the run up to 2021 general elections.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

Over 70 percent of Ugandans are engaged in the agriculture sector, and only 20 percent work in the formal sector. Statistics on the number of foreign/migrant workers are not publicly available; however, given the abundance of cheap domestic labor, there is minimal import of unskilled labor. Conversely, there is an acute shortage of skilled and specialized laborers.

While there are no explicit provisions requiring the hiring of nationals, there are broad standards requiring investors to contribute to the creation of local employment. The Petroleum Exploration, Development, and Production Act of 2013 and the Petroleum Refining, Conversion, Transmission, and Midstream Storage Act of 2013 require investors to contribute to workforce development by providing skills training for workers.

Ugandan labor laws specify procedures for termination of employment and for termination payments. Depending on the employee’s duration of employment, employers are required to notify an employee two weeks to three months prior to the termination date. Employees terminated without notice are entitled to severance wages. Ugandan law only differentiates between termination with notice (or payment in lieu of notice) and summary dismissal (termination without notice). Summary dismissal applies when the employee fundamentally violates his/her terms of employment. Uganda does not provide unemployment insurance or any other social safety net programs for terminated workers. Current law requires employers to contribute 10 percent of an employee’s gross salary to the National Social Security Fund (NSSF). The Uganda Retirement Benefits Regulatory Authority Act of 2011 provides a framework for the establishment and management of retirement benefits schemes for the public and private sectors and created an enabling environment for liberalization of the pension sector.

The Employment Act of 2006 does not allow waivers of labor laws for foreign investors.

Ugandan law allows workers, except members of the armed forces, to form and join independent unions, bargain collectively, and conduct legal strikes. The National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU) has 20 member unions. Its rival, the Central Organization of Free Trade Unions (COFTU), also has 20 union members. Union officials estimate that nearly half of employees in the formal sector belong to unions. In 2014, the Government of Uganda created the Industrial Court (IC) to arbitrate labor disputes. Public sector strikes are not uncommon in Uganda; however, there were no strikes during the past year.

Uganda ratified all eight International Labor Organization fundamental conventions enshrining labor and other economic rights, and partially incorporated these conventions into the 1995 Constitution, which stipulates and protects a wide range of economic rights. Despite these legal protections, many Ugandans work in unsafe environments due to poor enforcement and the limited scope of the labor laws. Labor laws do not protect domestic, agricultural, and informal sector workers.

In August 2019, President Museveni rejected the Minimum Wage Bill, which would have increased the monthly minimum wage from USD 1.60 to USD 36, and returned it to parliament for review. Museveni continues to argue that increasing Uganda’s minimum wage would undermine FDI and international competitiveness.

12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Other Investment Insurance Programs

The DFC is currently funding several projects in Uganda and maintains a bilateral agreement with the government of Uganda. Active projects in Uganda can be found here: https://www3.opic.gov/ActiveProjectsMap/Default.aspx# 

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) 2019 $35,000 2018 N/A https://www.imf.org/external/datamapper/
NGDPD@WEO/UGA
 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2018 $41,000 BEA data available at
https://www.bea.gov/international/
direct-investment-and-multinational-
enterprises-comprehensive-data
 
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A N/A N/A BEA data available at
https://www.bea.gov/international/
direct-investment-and-multinational-
enterprises-comprehensive-data
 
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A 2018 47.4% UNCTAD data available at
https://unctad.org/en/Pages/DIAE/
World%20Investment%20Report/
Country-Fact-Sheets.aspx
 

* Source for Host Country Data: Uganda Bureau of Statistics Statistical Abstract 2019

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward $9,294 100% No Data Available
The Netherlands $3,668 40%
Australia $1,519 16.3%
United Kingdom $840 9%
Kenya $778 8%
Mauritius $654 7%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment
Data not available.

14. Contact for More Information

Seth Miller
Economic and Commercial Officer
U.S. Embassy Kampala, Ggaba Road, Kampala
+256 (0) 414-306-240 (office)
MillerSA@state.gov

Zambia

Executive Summary

The Republic of Zambia is a landlocked country in southern Africa that shares its borders with eight countries: Angola, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia. The country has an estimated population of 17.35 million and GDP per capita of $1,430, according to the World Bank.

The economy slowed to 1.8 percent growth in 2019, down from four percent in 2018 and well below initial IMF projections. Zambia’s economy was hit by drought in the south and west that lowered 2018 and 2019 agricultural production and hydropower electricity generation considerably. Inflation also rose from 7.5 percent in 2018 to 9.2 percent in 2019 and is expected to remain above the Bank of Zambia’s target range of six to eight percent in 2020. Severe electricity rationing continues and has dampened activity in almost all economic sectors. In 2019 copper production, the country’s largest export, fell 12.5 percent from 2018 levels, attributed to an onerous mining tax regime implemented in 2019 and falling global market demand.

Zambia’s external debt grew to $11.2 billion in 2019, up from $10.2 billion at the end of 2018. The fiscal deficit at the end of 2019 was 8.2 percent of GDP, well above the 6.5 percent target. The kwacha also depreciated against the dollar by 18.2 percent in 2019, increasing the cost of external debt service. Investor appetite for domestic bonds continued to shrink, and short- and long-term domestic borrowing costs rose. Government austerity and fiscal consolidation remain key to ensuring that the macroeconomic fundamentals do not deteriorate further, but these challenges have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Foreign exchange reserves stood at $1.45 billion year-end 2019 (representing 1.9 months of import cover) from $1.59 billion year-end 2018.

Budget execution by the Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ) has historically been poor, with documented evidence of significant extra-budgetary spending and annual budgets that are widely viewed as aspirational rather than accurate. The IMF continues to delay a much-discussed loan package due to the GRZ’s unsustainable debt trajectory and lack of transparency on its Chinese debt pipeline.

The Embassy works closely with the American Chamber of Commerce of Zambia (AmCham) to support its 60+ American and Zambian firms seeking to increase two-way trade. Agriculture and mining continue to be the headlining sectors of Zambia’s economy. U.S. firms are present or exploring new projects in tourism, power generation, agriculture, and services.

Despite broad economic reforms in the early 2000s, Zambia still struggles to diversify its economy and accelerate private-led growth to address the poverty of its people. Cumbersome administrative procedures, unpredictability of legal and regulatory changes, lack of transparency in government contracting, the high cost of doing business due to poor infrastructure, the high cost of finance, inadequate human resources, and the lack of reliable electricity and internet service remain concerns.

Note: Due to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, in April 2020, Zambia’s Finance Minister forecasted 2020 GDP will be -2.3 percent, a sharp contraction from the over 3 percent growth that had been projected. Inflation is expected to rise to 13.4 percent. The GRZ is currently seeking emergency funding, debt relief, and debt restructuring to mitigate the pandemic’s economic impact.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings
Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2019 113 of 175 http://www.transparency.org/
research/cpi/overview
World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2019 85 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2019 124 of 129 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions) 2018 $47 https://apps.bea.gov/international/
factsheet/factsheet.cfm
World Bank GNI per capita 2018 $1,430 http://data.worldbank.org/
indicator/NY.GNP.PCAP.CD

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment

In general, Zambian law does not restrict foreign investors in any sector of the economy, although there are a few regulations and practices limiting foreign control laid out below. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) continues to play an increasing role in Zambia’s economy, contributing to increased capital inflows and overall investment. The Zambia Development Agency (ZDA), which is responsible for promoting trade and investment and coordinating the private sector-led economic development strategy, is the agency charged with attracting more FDI to Zambia.

Zambia has undertaken institutional reforms aimed at improving its attractiveness to investors; these reforms include the Private Sector Development Reform Program (PSDRP), which addresses issues related to cost of doing business through legislation and institutional reforms, and the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), which addresses some issues relating to transparency and good governance. However, frequent government policy changes create uncertainty for foreign investors. Recent examples include: a planned, rapid transition from a value-added tax regime to a sales tax that was planned to take effect in July 2019 but was scrapped in September 2019 after multiple last minute delays; taxes and royalty increases in the mining sector that took effect in January 2019 and marked the tenth significant change to mining taxes and regulations in 16 years; a labor law update that significantly increased costs of formal businesses without sufficient public consultation, and constant and unpredictable limits on various crop exports.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

The ZDA does not discriminate against foreign investors, and all sectors are open to both local and foreign investors. Foreign and domestic private entities have a right to establish and own business enterprises and engage in all forms of remunerative activities, and no business ventures are reserved solely for the government. Although private entities may freely establish and dispose of interests in business enterprises, investment board approval is required to transfer an investment license for a given enterprise to a new owner.

Currently, all land in Zambia is considered state land and ownership is vested in the president. Land titles held by foreigners are for renewable 99-year leases; ownership is not conferred. According to the government, the current land administration system leaves little room for the empowerment of citizens, especially the poor and vulnerable rural communities. The government began reviewing the current land policy in earnest in March 2017; though shorter terms continue to be suggested, no changes have been adopted to date.

Foreign investors in the telecom sector are required to disclose certain proprietary information to the ZDA as part of the regulatory approval process. Further information regarding information and communication regulation can be found at the website of the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority at http://www.zicta.zm 

The ZDA board screens all investment proposals and usually makes its decision within 30 days. The reviews appear routine and non-discriminatory and applicants have the right to appeal the investment board decisions. An investment application is screened to determine: the extent to which the proposed investment will help create employment; the development of human resources; the degree to which the project is export-oriented; the likely impact on the environment; the amount of technology transfer; and any other considerations the Board considers appropriate.

The following are the requirements for registering a foreign company in Zambia:

  1. At least one and not more than nine local directors must be appointed as directors of a majority foreign-owned company. At least one local director of the company must be resident in Zambia, and if the company has more than two local directors, more than half of them shall be residents of Zambia.
  2. There must be at least one documentary agent (a firm, corporate body registered in Zambia or an individual who is a resident in Zambia).
  3. A certified copy of the Certificate of Incorporation from the country of origin must be attached to Form 46.
  4. The charter, statutes, regulations, memorandum and articles, or other instrument relating to a foreign company must be submitted.
  5. The Registration Fee of K4,170 (~ USD 250.00) must be paid.
  6. The issuance and sealing of the Certificate of Registration marks the end of the process for registration.

This information can also be found at the web address of the Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA), http://www.pacra.org.zm 

Other Investment Policy Reviews

The GRZ conducted a trade policy review through the World Trade Organization (WTO) in June 2016. The report found that Zambia recorded relatively strong economic growth at an average rate of 6.6 percent per year up to 2015. The improvement was attributed to growing demand for copper (the main export product) and its spillover effects on some other sectors such as transport, communications, and wholesale and retail trade. Buoyant construction activity and higher agricultural production also helped.

The trade policy review report of 2016 reached the following conclusions: the government will continue to implement programs and initiatives directed at attaining inclusive growth and job creation and pay particular attention to macroeconomic stability, diversification of the economy, support to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), engagement with cooperating partners, and promotion of investment. Zambia also uses bilateral, regional, and multilateral frameworks to support economic growth and development.

Report found here: https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp440_e.htm 

Business Facilitation

The Zambian government, often with support from cooperating partners, has undertaken economic reforms to improve its business facilitation process and attract foreign investors, including steps to support transparent policymaking and to encourage competition. The impact of these progressive policies, however, has been undermined by persistent fiscal deficits and widespread corruption. Business surveys generally indicate that corruption in Zambia is a major obstacle for conducting business in the country.

The Zambian Business Regulatory Review Agency (BRRA) manages Regulatory Services Centers (RSCs) that serve as a one-stop shop for investors. RSCs provide an efficient regulatory clearance system by streamlining business registration processes; providing a single licensing system; reducing the procedures and time it takes to complete the registration process; and increasing accessibility of business registration institutions by placing them under one roof.

The government established RSCs in Lusaka, Livingstone, Kitwe, and Chipata, and has plans to establish additional RSCs so that there is at least one in each of the country’s 10 provinces. Information about the RSCs can be found at the following links: http://www.brra.org.zm/index.php/656-2/ 

The Companies Act No. 10 of 2017 was operationalized through a statutory instrument (June 2018) and implementing regulations (February 2019) aimed at fostering accountability and transparency in the management of companies. Companies are required to maintain a register of beneficial owners, and persons holding shares on behalf of other persons or entities must now disclose those beneficial owners.

In order to facilitate improved access to credit the Patents and Company Registration Office (PACRA) established the collateral registry system, a central database that records all registrations of charges or collaterals created by borrowers to secure credits provided by lenders. This service allows lenders to search for collateral offered by loan applicants to see if that collateral already has an existing claim registered against it. Creditors can also register security interests against the proposed collateral to protect their priority status in accordance with the Movable Property (Security Interest) Act No. 3 of 2016. Generally, the first registered security interest in the collateral has first priority over any subsequent registrations.

Parliament passed the Border Management and Trade Facilitation Act in December 2018. The Act, among other things, calls for coordinated border management and control to facilitate the efficient movement and clearance of goods; puts into effect provisions for one-stop border posts; and simplifies clearance of goods with neighboring countries. While one-stop border posts have existed for several years and agencies are co-located at some border crossings, agencies still had conflicting regulations and processes. The new law seeks to harmonize outstanding issues.

Outward Investment

Through the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA), the government continues to undertake a number of activities to promote investment through provision of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, establishment of Multi-Facility Economic Zones (MFEZs), the development of SMEs, as well as the promotion of skills development, productive investment, and increased trade. However, there is no incentive for outward investment nor is there any known government restriction on domestic investors from investing abroad.

3. Legal Regime

Transparency of the Regulatory System

Proposed laws and other statutory instruments are often insufficiently vetted with interest groups or are not released in draft form for public comment. Proposed bills are published on the National Assembly of Zambia website (http://www.parliament.gov.zm/ ) for public viewing. Hard copies of the documents are delivered by courier to the stakeholders’ premises/mailboxes.

Opportunities for comment on proposed laws and regulations sometimes exist through trade associations, such as the Zambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Zambia Association of Manufacturers, Zambia Chamber of Mines, and American Chamber of Commerce in Zambia. Stakeholder consultation in developing legislation and regulation has, however, generally been poor under the current administration. The government established the BRRA in 2014 with the mandate to administer the Business Regulatory Act. The Act requires public entities to submit for Cabinet approval a policy or proposed law that regulates business activity, after the policy or proposed law has BRRA approval. A public entity that intends to introduce any policy or law for regulating business activities should give notice, in writing, to the BRRA at least two months prior to submitting it to Cabinet; hold public consultations for at least 30 days with relevant stakeholders, and perform a Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA). The BRRA works in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, which does not approve any proposed law to regulate business activity without the approval of BRRA. While this framework is solid on paper, the BRRA and the consultative process is still relatively new and unknown even by other government officials, and it appears that in some cases the BRRA is informed after the Ministry of Justice has already approved a law.

While there are clear public procurement guidelines, concerns persist regarding transparency and a level playing field for U.S. firms. To enhance the transparency, integrity, and efficiency of Zambia’s procurement system the GRZ launched the electronic government procurement (e-GP) in July 2016. In 2018, Cabinet approved legislation to repeal the Public Procurement Act of 2008 in order to introduce price benchmarking and expert estimates in tendering for capital projects and other high value goods and services, but Parliament has not passed the measure as of April 2020.

International Regulatory Considerations

On October 2, 2000, Zambia became a beneficiary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) market access treaty with the United States, and was again found eligible for continuous benefits under AGOA in March 2019.

Zambia is a member of a number of regional and international groupings aimed at expanding markets for domestically produced goods and services. These include membership in both COMESA and SADC Free Trade Areas (FTAs). Zambia is also an active participant in the establishment of the Tripartite Free Trade Area between COMESA, SADC, and the East African Community (EAC).

In February 2019, Zambia signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA); as of the end of the first quarter of 2020, it still awaits ratification by Zambia’s Parliament. The trade agreement among 54 African Union member states creates a continent-wide single market, followed by the free movement of people and a single-currency union; much work remains to develop implementation protocols and mechanisms across Africa.

At the multilateral level, Zambia has been a WTO member since January 1, 1995. Zambia’s investment incentives program is transparent and has been included in the WTO’s trade policy reviews. The incentive packages are also subject to reviews by the Board of the ZDA and to periodic reviews by the Parliamentary Accounts Committee. Zambia is a signatory to the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) but still faces major challenges in expediting the movement, release, and clearance of goods, including goods in transit, which is a major requisite of the TFA. Zambia has benefited from duty-free and quota-free market access to the EU through its Everything but Arms FTA, and to the United States from the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) and AGOA agreements.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

Zambia has a dual legal system that consists of statutory and customary law administered through a single formal court system. Statutory law is derived from the English legal system with some English Acts of Parliament still deemed to be in full force and effect within Zambia. Traditional and customary laws, which remain in a state of flux, are generally not written or codified, although some of them have been unified under Acts of Parliament. No clear definition of customary law has been developed by the courts, and there has not been systematic development of this subject.

Zambia has a written commercial law. The Commercial Court, a division of the High Court, deals with disputes arising out of commercial transactions. All commercial matters are registered in the commercial registry and judges of the Commercial Court are experienced in commercial law. Appeals from the Commercial Court, based on the amended January 2016 constitution, now fall under the recently established Court of Appeals, comprised of eight judges. The Foreign Judgments (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act, Chapter 76, makes provision for the enforcement in Zambia of judgments given in foreign countries that accord reciprocal treatment. The registration of a foreign judgment is not automatic. Although Zambia is a state party to international human rights and regional instruments, it has a dualist system of jurisprudence that considers international treaty law as a separate system of law from domestic law. Domestication of international instruments by Acts of Parliament is necessary for these to be applicable in the country. Systematic efforts to domesticate international instruments are quite slow, but progressing.

The courts support Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) and there has been an increase in the use of arbitration, mediation, and tribunals by litigants in Zambia. Arbitration is common in commercial matters and the proceedings are governed by the Arbitration Act No. 19 of 2000. The Act incorporates United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. Zambian courts have no jurisdiction if parties have agreed to an arbitration clause in their contract. The establishment of the fee-based judicial commercial division in 2014 to adjudicate high-value claims has helped accelerate resolution of such cases.

The courts in Zambia are generally independent, but contractual and property rights enforcement is weak and final court decisions can take a prohibitively long time. At times, politicians have exerted pressure on the judiciary in politically controversial cases. Regulations or enforcement actions are appealable, and adjudication depends on the matter at hand and the principal law or act governing the regulations.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

The major laws affecting foreign investment in Zambia include:

  1. The Zambia Development Agency Act of 2006, which offers a wide range of incentives in the form of allowances, exemptions, and concessions to companies.
  2. The Companies Act of 1994, which governs the registration of companies in Zambia.
  3. The Zambia Revenue Authority’s Customs and Excise Act, Income Tax Act of 1966, and the Value Added Tax of 1995 provide for general incentives to investors in various sectors.
  4. The Employment Code Act of 2019, Zambia’s basic employment law that provides for required minimum employment contractual terms.
  5. The Immigration and Deportation Act, Chapter 123, regulates the entry into and residency in Zambia of visitors, expatriates, and immigrants.

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

Market competition operates under a relatively weak regulatory framework, although there is freedom of pricing, currency convertibility, freedom of trade, and free use of profits. A fairly strong institutional framework is provided for strategic sectors, such as mining and mining supply industries, and large-scale commercial farming. The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (CCPC) is a statutory body established with a unique dual mandate to protect the competition process in the economy and to protect consumers. The mandate of the Commission cuts across all economic sectors. The CCPC regulates the economy to avoid restrictive business practices, abuse of dominant position of market power, anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions, and cartels that erode consumer welfare. The Commission is also mandated to enhance consumer welfare. In general terms, therefore, the principal aim of the Commission is to safeguard competition and ensure consumer protection, but it has been described as ineffectual and lacks legislative influence.

In 2016, the CCPC published a series of guidelines and policies that included adopting a formal Leniency Policy, a policy that encourages persons to report to the CCPC information that may help to uncover prohibited agreements. In certain circumstances, the person receives immunity from prosecution, imposition of fines, or the guarantee of a reduction in fines. The policy also calculates administrative penalties. In addition, the CCPC in 2016 published the draft Settlement Guidelines, which provide a formal framework for parties seeking to engage the CCPC for purposes of reaching a settlement.

The Competition and Fair Trading Act, Chapter 417, prevents firms from distorting the competitive process through conduct or agreements designed to exclude actual or potential competitors, and applies to all entities, regardless of whether private, public, or foreign. Although the Commission largely opens investigations when a complaint is filed, it can also open investigations on its own initiative. Zambian competition law can also be enforced by civil lawsuits in court brought by private parties and criminal prosecution by the Commission is possible in cartel cases without the involvement of the Director of Public Prosecution under the Competition and Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) No. 24 of 2010. However, the general perception is the Commission may be restricted in applying the competition law against government agencies and State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), especially those protected by other laws.

Expropriation and Compensation

Zambia is a signatory to the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) of the World Bank and other international agreements. This guarantees foreign investment protection in cases of war, strife, disasters, and other disturbances, or in cases of expropriation. Zambia has signed bilateral reciprocal promotional and protection of investment protocols with a number of countries. The ZDA also offers further security for investments in the country through the signing of the Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (IPPAs).

Investments may only be legally expropriated by an act of Parliament relating to the specific property expropriated. Although the ZDA Act states that compensation must be at a fair market value, the method for determining fair market value is ill-defined. Compensation is convertible at the current exchange rate. The ZDA Act also protects investors from being adversely affected by any subsequent changes to the Investment Act of 1993 for seven years from their initial investment.

Leasehold land, which is granted under 99-year leases, may revert to the government if it is determined to be undeveloped after a certain amount of time, generally five years. Land title is sometimes questioned in court, and land is re-titled to other owners.

There is no pattern of discrimination against U.S. persons by way of an illegal expropriation by the government or authority in the country. There are no high-risk sectors prone to expropriation actions.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Zambia is party to the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards of 1958, which entered into force on June 7, 1959, and party to the Convention of the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States of 1965, which entered into force on October 14, 1966. These are enforced through the Investment Disputes Convention Act Chapter 42.

Zambia is a member state of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) Convention and a signatory to the United Nations Commission of International Trade Law (UNCITRAL Model Law). In 2002, Zambia ratified the convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (1958 New York Convention).

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

Over the past 10 years, previous disputes involved delayed payments from SOEs to U.S. companies for goods and services and the delayed deregistration of a U.S.-owned aircraft that was leased to a Zambian airline company that went bankrupt. Currently, a U.S. company is in dispute over the refusal of payment by its local joint venture partner that resulted from goods delivered to the government of Zambia. The case, however, has not officially reached Zambian courts.

Relatively few investment disputes involving U.S. companies have occurred since Zambia’s economy was liberalized following the introduction of multi-party democracy in 1991. The Zambian Investment Code stipulates that claimants must first file internal dispute claims with the Zambian High Court. Failing that, the parties may go to international arbitration. However, U.S. companies can encounter difficulties in receiving payments from the government for work performed or products and services rendered. This can be due to inefficient government bureaucracy or, more often, to a lack of funds available to the government to meet its obligations.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

The Zambian Arbitration Act Number 19 of 2000 incorporates the UNCITRAL and the New York Convention on the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards. The Act applies to both domestic and international arbitration and is based on the UNCITRAL model law. Foreign lawyers cannot be used to represent parties in domestic or international arbitrations taking place in Zambia. There are no facilities that provide online arbitration, although the Zambia Institute of Arbitrators promotes and facilitates arbitration and other forms of ADR. The New York Convention on the recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards has been domesticated into Zambian legislation by virtue of Section 31 of the Arbitration Act. Arbitration awards are enforced in the High Court of Zambia, and judgments enforcing or denying enforcement of an award can be appealed to the Supreme Court.

Bankruptcy Regulations

The Bankruptcy Act, Chapter 82 provides for the administration of bankruptcy of the estates of debtors and makes provision for punishment of offenses committed by debtors. It also provides for reciprocity in bankruptcy proceedings between Zambia and other countries and for matters incidental to and consequential upon the foregoing. This applies to individuals, local, and foreign investors. Bankruptcy judgments are made in local currency but can be paid out in any internationally convertible currency. Under the Bankruptcy Act, a person can be charged as a criminal. A person guilty of an offense declared to be a felony or misdemeanor under the Bankruptcy Act in respect of which no special penalty is imposed by this Act shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.

Zambia has made strides in improving its credit information system. Since 2008, the credit bureau, TransUnion, requires banks and some non-banks to provide loans requirement information and consult it when making loans. The credit bureau eventually captures data from other institutions such as utilities. The bureau’s coverage is still less than 10 percent of the population; the quality of information is suspect; and there is lack of clarity on data sources and the inclusion of positive information.

4. Industrial Policies

Investment Incentives

The ZDA Act provides for a number of incentives available to both local and foreign investors.

Under the Income Tax Act, Chapter 323 or the Customs and Excise Act, Chapter 322, investors who invest not less than USD 500,000 in an MFEZ, an industrial park, a priority sector, or invest in a Rural Enterprise under the ZDA Act, are entitled to the following fiscal incentives:

  1. A corporate tax rate of 0 percent for 5 years from commencement of operations.
  2. Taxation on only 50 percent of profits in year 6 through year 8 from commencement of operations and only 75 percent for years 9 and 10.
  3. 5-year exemption on dividend taxes following the first year of declaration.
  4. 5-year customs duties exemption on imported machinery and equipment.
  5. Improvement allowance of 100 percent of capital expenditure on improvements or upgrading of infrastructure.

In addition to fiscal incentives, the above category of investors, along with those who invest an amount not less than USD 250,000 in any sector or product not provided for as a priority sector or product under the Act, are entitled to investment guarantees and protection against state nationalization along with free facilitation for application of immigration permits, secondary licenses, land acquisition, and utilities. For major investments, the Minister of Finance may specify additional incentives for investment in an identified sector or product of not less than USD 10 million or equivalent in convertible currency in new assets that qualify for those incentives.

During the presentation of the 2018 national budget, the Minister of Finance proposed discontinuing the five-year income tax holidays provided under the ZDA Act. Instead, the Minister proposed accelerated depreciation for capital expenditure in an effort to safeguard government revenues eroded through tax holidays. The proposal was criticized by foreign investors, and has led to some investors putting the brakes on additional investment in the country. The proposal to discontinue the five-year income tax holiday is not yet enacted.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

An investor may apply to be appointed and licensed by the Commissioner General to establish and operate a bonded factory under Section 65 of the Customs and Excise Act. In early 2007, the GRZ announced the creation of MFEZs in which investors enjoy waivers on customs duty on imported equipment, excise duty, and value added tax, among other concessions. It is currently unclear if the government will maintain these incentives (see Investment Incentives section).

There are three MFEZs currently operating: the Chambishi MFEZ in Copperbelt Province and the Lusaka East MFEZ located near Lusaka’s international airport, both of which are heavily (if not exclusively) dominated by Chinese-owned enterprises; and the Lusaka South MFEZ, which has a mix of multi-national firms. Foreign-owned firms enjoy the same investment opportunities as domestic firms in MFEZs. The ZDA Act is the primary legislation for investment in Zambia. An investor, foreign or local, is free to identify and suggest any other location in the country deemed economical for MFEZ development, although the government has prioritized designated areas in Lusaka, Ndola, Mpulungu, Chembe, Nakonde, Kasumbalesa, and Mwinilunga. Investors are encouraged to provide local employment and skills transfer to local entrepreneurs and communities. Investors are also encouraged to utilize local raw materials and intermediate goods and engage in technology transfer to qualify to operate in an MFEZ.

Zambia is active in several key regional organizations that promote regional trade and regulatory harmonization. COMESA launched its FTA in October 2000 and established a customs union in June 2009. The top five intra-COMESA exports from Zambia include tobacco, raw sugarcane, wire, refined copper, and cement. The SADC Protocol on Trade came into force in 2008. The Trade Protocol promotes regional integration through trade development and develops natural and human resources for the mutual benefit of their people. Trade among SADC member states is conducted on reciprocal preferential terms. Rules of Origin define the conditions for products to qualify for preferential trade in the SADC region. Products have to be “wholly produced” or “sufficiently processed” in the SADC region to be considered compliant with the SADC Rules of Origin. The SADC Rules of Origin are product-specific and not generic, like the Rules of Origin for COMESA.

COMESA, the EAC, and SADC member states agreed in October 2008 to negotiate a Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) covering half of Africa. The Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) was launched in June 2015 in Egypt; to date, Zambia is one of the 22 out of the 27 member states which have signed the agreement. The Agreement will enter into force once it has been ratified by 14 Member States; only Egypt and Uganda have ratified the Agreement thus far. In February 2019, Zambia signed the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA); it must still be ratified by Parliament. The trade agreement between 49 African Union member states plans to create a single market, followed by the free movement of people and a single-currency union; much work remains to develop implementation protocols and mechanisms continent-wide. The TFTA and AfCFTA have yet to enter into effect.

Zambia performs better than the average sub-Saharan African and lower middle-income countries in the areas of information availability, involvement of the trade community, appeal procedures, and automation, according to OECD trade facilitation indicators. Zambia’s performance for internal border agency co-operation and governance and impartiality is below average for sub-Saharan African and lower middle-income countries.

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

Although performance requirements are not imposed, authorities expect commitments made in applications for investment licenses to be fulfilled. Foreign contractors bidding on infrastructure projects are required by law to give 20 percent of works to Zambian small contractors. Outside of infrastructure projects, no requirements currently exist for data localization, local content, equity, financing, employment, or technology transfers. However, in January 2018 the government issued a Statutory Instrument (SI) instructing all industries to transport 30 percent of their cargo by rail. The government does not impose offset requirements or impose conditions on permission to invest in a specific geographic area or local content, but investors are encouraged to employ local nationals. There is no legal definition of local content, and the most comprehensive local content legislation is contained in the Mines and Minerals Development Act of 2008. The Citizens Economic Empowerment Act of 2006 and Statutory Instrument of 2008 also contain local content provisions.

The GRZ favors the use of local workers for unskilled labor as well as for skilled middle or senior management workers. Under the ZDA Act, any foreign investor who invests a minimum of USD 250,000 or its equivalent and employs a minimum of 200 employees at certain technical or managerial levels is entitled to a self-employment permit or resident permit. The ZDA assists the qualifying investor to obtain work permits for up to five expatriate employees. In practice, however, some foreign companies, especially smaller-scale investors, have had difficulty securing these permits. Any entry permit holder can apply for a dependent’s pass for each of his dependents. The government is considering limiting foreigners to obtain work permits only for rare skills not found in Zambia. While not yet implemented, the GRZ has at times denied work permits or work permit renewals. The ZDA is also in the process of developing standards regarding investment performance benchmarks that it seeks to establish within an MFEZ to assist the government in monitoring company performance against the commitments made when investment incentives are granted.

The GRZ encourages investors where possible to use domestic content in goods or technology if available. In 2017 the government started the formulation of a local content strategy to promote inclusive and sustainable growth through increased use of locally available goods and services in development sectors. According to the Ministry of Commerce, Trade, and Industry, once the strategy is developed, a law will be passed to compel businesses to use a certain percentage of local inputs and products in the production and provision of goods and services. In a speech to Parliament in March 2018, the president criticized a perceived influx of foreign workers into Zambia’s mining industry; the government followed with a month-long review of foreign labor quotas in the sector. The developed sustained opposition to working practices by domestic unions and civil society organizations.

While this was not the first time that scrutiny of foreign labor has surfaced as a strategic issue for the government, the latest review is a reminder of the burgeoning pressures that continue to underpin sector management and policymaking. To date, the current administration has adopted a relatively pragmatic approach to managing the mining sector’s fiscal and regulatory framework, acknowledging the challenging commercial conditions for some mining companies, and the need for stability in the operating environment.

Currently, there is no requirement for foreign information technology providers to turn over source code or provide access to surveillance. The telecommunications sector is governed by the Information and Communications Technology Act No. 15 of 2009 (ICT Act) and falls under the Ministry of Communications and Transport.

The government strives to be consistent with Trade Related Investment Measures (TRIMs) requirements and generally abides by the WTO’s TRIMS obligation. Although performance requirements are not imposed, authorities expect commitments made in applications for investment licenses to be fulfilled.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Property rights and the regulation of property are well defined in principle, but face problems in implementation. Contractual and property rights are weak. Courts are often inexperienced in commercial litigation and are frequently slow in reaching their decisions. The ZDA Act ensures investors’ property rights are respected. Secured interests in property, both movable and real, are recognized and enforced. Property can be owned individually, jointly in undivided shares, or by an entity such as a company, close corporation or trust, or similar entity registered outside Zambia. The ZDA Act provides for legal protection and facilitates acquisition and disposition of all property rights such as land, buildings, and mortgages. The Lands and Deeds Registry Act of Zambia states that a mortgage is only to operate as security and not a transfer or lease of the estate or interest mortgaged. There are two types of mortgages in Zambia, a legal and an equitable mortgage. A legal mortgage is created in respect to a legal estate by deed. An equitable mortgage does not convey legal title to the mortgage, and no power of sale vests in the mortgagee.

The president holds all land on behalf of the people of Zambia, which he may give to any Zambian, but the process is set in law. The Lands Act, Chapter 184, places a number of restrictions on the president’s allocation of land to foreigners. The ZDA Act makes provision for leasehold tenure of land by investors. The ZDA, in consultation with the Ministry of Lands, assists an investor in identifying suitable land for investment, as well as assisting the investor to apply through the Ministry of Lands. While land is technically owned by the president, it is worth noting that traditional chiefs have jurisdiction over traditional, or customary, land, which makes up roughly 70 percent of Zambia.

The Commissioner of Lands verifies that properties can be transferred after checking if ground rent has been paid and conducting due diligence on the purchaser. As all land in Zambia belongs to the state, Zambians, Zambian companies, established residents, or investors can only lease it under lease terms established by law. Land held under customary tenure has no title, but where a sketch plan of the area exists, the chief can give written consent to an investor and a 14-year lease can be obtained for traditional land. In March 2017, the president expressed concern that land was being given to foreigners at an alarming rate by traditional chiefs and called for an inquiry into this by the Ministry of Lands, which had the lead in forming a new land policy. The current draft of the new land policy would assert more central government control over traditional lands and seeks to reduce the lease tenure on foreign-owned land from 99 years to renewable periods of 25 years. Both traditional chiefs and foreign investors have objected to terms in the draft bill, which has since stalled with Ministry of Lands and has not been presented to Parliament.

Despite Zambia’s abundant land for agriculture and other purposes, the process of land acquisition and registration is a major obstacle for investors. About 70 percent of available land is under traditional ownership. Its acquisition involves negotiations with traditional leaders who have to balance the demands of their subjects with the pressure to convert land for commercial purposes. Most available land has not been surveyed or mapped and where this has been done, records are often outdated or difficult to retrieve from the Ministry of Lands.

The Ministry of Lands is centralized in Lusaka and faces problems with poor record keeping and slow processing of title deeds. To address these challenges the government, with the support of donor partners, has been working to reform land policy, including modernization of the Lands Department at Ministry of Lands, establishment of Land Banks, establishment of a Land Development Fund, demarcation of MFEZs and industrial parks, and development of farming blocks.

Many of Zambia’s urban poor who live on statutory land are not aware of the ways in which they can secure their rights to land. Some civic leaders, cadres (political party supporters), and traditional leaders allocate and sell land without following required procedures. As such, many urban poor find refuge in unplanned settlements, which in some cases are not approved in accordance with Zambian law. This has led to the continued proliferation of informal and unplanned settlements, illegal land allocations, land grabbing, and misplacement of resources, all of which slow development.

People living on both customary land and in unplanned settlements therefore do so with a sense of insecurity of land tenure due to the absence of documentation to support land ownership coupled with a poor land administration system. Civil and traditional leaders have demonstrated little transparency and accountability in land governance. Most often, community members have little knowledge about either their land rights or how they can protect themselves.

Intellectual Property Rights

Intellectual property laws in Zambia cover such areas as domain names, traditional knowledge, transfer of technology, patents, and copyrights, etc. Zambia is also party to several international intellectual property agreements. The legal framework for trademark protection in Zambia is adequate. However, enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) is weak, and courts have little experience with commercial litigation. Copyright protection is limited and does not cover computer applications. Of the many pirated and counterfeit goods in Zambia, the main ones are: DVDs, CDs, audio-visual software, infant milk, pharmaceuticals, body lotions, motor vehicle spare parts (such as tires and brake pads), beverages, cigarettes, toothpaste, electrical appliances, fertilizer, pesticides, and corn seed. Small-scale trademark infringement occurs in connection with some packaged goods utilizing copied or deceptive packaging. In 2016, the government enacted the Industrial Designs Act and the Protection of Traditional Knowledge, Genetic Resources, and Expressions of Folklore Act. The Industrial Designs Act encourages the creation of designs and development of creative industries through enhanced protection and utilization of designs, and it provides for the registration and protection of designs and the rights of proprietors of registered designs. The Protection of Traditional Knowledge, Genetic Resources, and Expressions of Folklore Act provides a transparent legal framework for the protection of, access to, and use of, traditional knowledge, genetic resources, and expressions of folklore and guarantees equitable sharing of benefits and effective participation of holders.

The Zambia Police Service Intellectual Property Unit (IPU) carries out raids in shops and markets to confiscate counterfeit and pirated materials. The IPU tracks and reports on seizures of counterfeit goods, but no consolidated record is available. There are fines for revealing proprietary business information, but they are not large enough to adequately penalize possible disclosures. Zambia’s patent laws conform to the requirements of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, to which Zambia is a signatory. It takes a minimum of four months to patent an item or process. Duplicative patent searches are not performed, but patent awards may be appealed on grounds of infringement.

Zambia is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). In addition to the Paris Convention, Zambia is a signatory to a number of international agreements on patents and intellectual property, including the Berne Convention and the UNESCO Universal Copyright Convention. Zambia is also a member of the African Regional Industrial Property Organization (ARIPO). The country is a signatory to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which is an international legal agreement among all the member nations of the World Trade Organization.

The Ministry of Commerce, Trade, and Industry and the Patents and Companies Registration Agency (PACRA) are the leading institutions responsible for the implementation of IPR laws in Zambia. The industrial property registration system at PACRA underwent an upgrade that linked its electronic documentation management system to WIPO’s WIPOScan, which provides for digitization of IPR records. Though major strides have been made in Zambia in the fight against piracy and counterfeiting, more needs to be done.

Zambia is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report nor its 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/ .

6. Financial Sector

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

Government policies generally facilitate the free flow of financial resources to support the entry of resources in the product and factor market. Banking supervision and regulation by the Bank of Zambia (BoZ) has improved slightly over the past few years. Improvements include revoking licenses of some insolvent banks, denying bailouts, limiting deposit protection, strengthening loan recovery efforts, and upgrading the training of and incentives for bank supervisors. High domestic lending rates and the limited accessibility of domestic financing constrain business. High returns on government securities encourage commercial banks to invest heavily in government debt to the exclusion of financing productive private sector investments.

The Lusaka Stock Exchange (LuSE), established in 1993, is structured to meet international recommendations for clearing and settlement system design and operations. There are no restrictions on foreign participation in the LuSE, and foreigners may invest in stocks on the same terms as Zambians. The LuSE has offered trading in equity securities since its inception and, in March 1998, the LuSE became the official market for selling Zambian government bonds. Investors intending to trade a listed security or government bond are now mandated to trade via the LuSE. The market is regulated by the Securities Act of 1993 and enforced by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of Zambia. Secondary trading of financial instruments in the market is very low or non-existent in some areas. As of the beginning of 2018, there are 22 companies listed on the LuSE with a portfolio worth about K63 billion (USD 6.6 billion).

Existing policies facilitate the free flow of financial resources into the product and factor markets. The government and the BoZ respect IMF Article VIII by refraining from restrictions on payments and transfers for current international transactions. Credit is allocated on market terms and foreign investors can get credit on the local market, although local credit is relatively expensive and most investors therefore prefer to obtain credit outside the country.

Money and Banking System

The financial sector is comprised of three sub-sectors according to financial sector supervisory authorities. The banking and financial institutions sub-sector is supervised by the BoZ, the securities sub-sector by the SEC, and the pensions and insurance sub-sector by the Pensions and Insurance Authority. Zambia’s banking sector is considered relatively well-developed in the African context, but the sector remains highly concentrated. There are currently 19 banks in Zambia with the largest four banks holding nearly two-thirds of total banking assets. The dominance of the four largest banks in deposits and total assets has been diluted by increased market capture of smaller banks and new industry entrants, an indication of growing competitive intensity in this segment of the banking market. Government policies generally facilitate the free flow of financial resources to support the entry of resources in the product and factor market. There continued to be a steady increase in electronic banking and related services over the last few years. As stated above, banking supervision and regulation by the BoZ has improved slightly over the past few years. The Banking and Financial Services Act, Chapter 387, and the Bank of Zambia Act, Chapter 360, govern the banking industry.

The BoZ’s current policy rate, as of February 2019, is 9.75 percent. The commercial lending rate ranged between 23 and 26 percent as of 2018, among the highest in the region. The persistence of high interest rates led the government to urge commercial banks to reduce their lending rates in order to stimulate private sector growth and the economy as a whole. One factor inhibiting more affordable lending is a culture of tolerating loan default, which many borrowers view as a minor transgression. Non-performing loans (NPLs) are growing, with some estimates as high as 15 percent. The government contributes to this problem, as it has arrears of about USD 1.3 billion to government contractors who reportedly hold a high percentage of the NPLs.

Lender data reporting remains erratic and credit rating information is not widely available. In addition, high returns on government securities encourage commercial banks to invest heavily in government debt, to the exclusion of financing productive private sector investments. Banking officials acknowledge that they need to upgrade the risk assessment and credit management skills of their institutions to better serve borrowers. At the same time, they argue that widespread financial illiteracy limits borrowers’ ability to access credit. Banks provide credit denominated in foreign currency only for investments aimed at producing goods for export. Banks provide services on a fee-based model and banking charges are generally high. Home mortgages are available from several leading Zambian banks, although interest rates are still very high.

To operate a bank in Zambia, the bank must be licensed by the Registrar of Banks, Financial Institutions, and Financial Businesses (“the Registrar”) whose office is based at the BoZ. The decision to license banks lies with the Registrar. Foreign banks or branches are allowed to operate in country as long as they fulfill BoZ requirements and meet the minimum capital requirement of USD 100 million for foreign banks and USD 20 million for local banks. According to the BoZ, many banks in the country have correspondent banking relationships; it is difficult to assess how many there are or whether any bank has lost any correspondent banking relationships in the past three years. It is also difficult to analyze if any of those correspondent relationships are currently in jeopardy as the daily management of those relationships are carried out by the individual banks and not by the BoZ.

The Non-Bank Financial Institutions (NBFIs) are licensed and regulated in accordance with the provisions of the Banking and Financial Services Act of 1994 (BFSA) and related Regulations and Prudential Guidelines. As key players in the financial sector, NBFIs are subject to regulatory requirements governing their prudential position, consumer protection, and market conduct in order to safeguard the overall soundness and stability of the financial system. The NBFIs comprise 8 leasing and finance companies, 3 building societies, 1 credit reference bureau, 1 savings and credit institution, 1 development finance institution, 80 bureau de change, 1 credit reference bureau, and 34 micro-finance institutions.

Private firms are open to foreign investment through mergers and acquisitions. The CCPC reviews and handles big mergers and acquisitions. The High Court of Zambia may reverse decisions made by the Commission. Under the CCPA, foreign companies without a presence in Zambia and taking over local firms do not, however, have to notify their transactions to the Commission, as it has not established disclosure requirements for foreign companies acquiring existing businesses in Zambia. In the past decade, some mergers and acquisitions include Bharti Airtel’s purchase of Zain/Celtel Zambia, the acquisition of a huge U.S. multinational energy corporation’s assets in Zambia by Engen Petroleum, a large U.S. retailer takeover of Game Stores through the acquisition of Massmart Holdings Limited of South Africa, Barrick Gold Corp takeover of Equinox Lumwana Copper Mines, the purchase of BP shares in Southern Africa, including BP Zambia, by Puma Energy, the Jinchuan Group Limited takeover of Metorex Chibuluma Copper Mine, Atlas Mara’s acquisition of Finance Bank Zambia and subsequent combination with BANC ABC, and private equity house EMR Capital’s purchase of eighty percent of indirect interest in Lubambe Mine, held equally by African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) and Vale International.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange

There are currently no restrictions or limitations placed on foreign investors converting or transferring funds associated with an investment (including remittances of investment capital, earnings, loan repayments, and lease payments) into freely usable currency and at a legal market-clearing rate. Investors are free to repatriate capital investments, as well as dividends, management fees, interest, profit, technical fees, and royalties. Foreign nationals can also transfer and/or remit wages earned in Zambia. Funds associated with investments can be freely converted into internationally convertible currencies. The BoZ pursues a flexible exchange rate policy, which generally allows the currency to freely float, though it has intervened heavily to support the local currency, the kwacha, in 2014 to 2016. Transfers of currency are protected by IMF Article VII.

In March 2014, the government announced the revocation of SI Number 33 (mandating use of the kwacha for domestic transactions) and SI Number 55 (monitoring foreign exchange transactions). The government experienced challenges implementing these statutory instruments and – along with problems of fiscal management and weakening global copper prices – the SIs were perceived as undermining confidence in Zambia’s economy and currency, leading to sharp depreciation of the kwacha. The decision to revoke the SIs was widely praised in the business community. The kwacha, however, has remained weak in historical terms against the dollar and in early April 2020 was trading between 18.3-18.9 kwacha per dollar.

Over-the-counter cash conversion of the kwacha into foreign currency is restricted to a USD 5,000 maximum per transaction for account holders and USD 1,000 for non-account holders. No exchange controls exist in Zambia for anyone doing business as either a resident or non-resident. There are no restrictions on non-cash transactions. The exchange rate of the Zambian national currency is mostly determined by market forces; because the volume and value of exports from Zambia are overwhelmingly related to the extractive industries sector, mining companies’ financial transactions play a major role in exchange rate determination.

Remittance Policies

There are no recent changes or plans to change investment remittance policies that tighten or relax access to foreign exchange for investment remittances. There are no restrictions on converting or transferring funds associated with an investment (including remittances of investment capital, earnings, loan repayments, or lease payments) into freely usable currency at the legal market clearing rate. Foreign investors can remit through a legal parallel market, including one utilizing convertible, negotiable instruments such as dollar-denominated government bonds issued in lieu of immediate payment in dollars. There are no limitations on the inflow or outflow of funds for remittances of profits or revenue and there is no evidence to show that Zambia manipulates the currency. Zambia is a member of the Eastern and Southern Africa Anti-Money Laundering Group (ESAAMLG), which in 2018, conducted an on-site assessment of the implementation of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorist financing (AML/CTF) measures in Zambia. ESAAMLG coordinates with other international organizations concerned with combating money laundering, studying emerging regional typologies, developing institutional and human resource capacities to deal with these issues, and coordinating technical assistance where necessary. In June 2019, Zambia adopted the recommendations. Zambia has demonstrated commitment to establish an AML/CTF framework. The enactment of the Prohibition and Prevention of Money Laundering Act and the Anti-Terrorism Act, establishment of the Anti-Money Laundering Investigations Unit and the Financial Intelligence Center as the sole designated national agencies mandated to handle AML/CTF and other serious offences, and September 2018 accession to the Egmont Group reflect this commitment.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

The GRZ had planned to launch a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) following the 2015 reincorporation of the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) as the parastatal holding company, but has yet to establish the fund.

7. State-Owned Enterprises

There are currently 34 state-owned enterprises (SOEs) operating in different sectors in Zambia including agriculture, education, energy, financial services, infrastructure, manufacturing, medical, mining, real estate, technology, media and communication, tourism, and transportation and logistics. Most SOEs are wholly owned or majority owned by the government under the IDC established in 2015. Zambia has two categories of SOEs: those incorporated under the Companies Act and those established by particular statutes, referred to as statutory corporations. There is a published list of SOEs in the Auditor General’s annual reports; SOE expenditure on research and development is not detailed. There is no exhaustive list or online location of SOEs’ data for assets, net income, or number of employees. Consequently, inaccurate information is scattered throughout different government agencies/ministries. The majority of SOEs have serious operational and management challenges.

In principle, SOEs do not enjoy preferential treatment by virtue of government ownership, however, they may obtain protection when they are not able to compete or face adverse market conditions. The Zambia Information Communications Authority Act has a provision restricting the private sector from undertaking postal services that would directly compete with the Zambia Postal Services Corporation. Zambia is not party to the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) within the framework of the WTO, however private enterprises are allowed to compete with public enterprises under the same terms and conditions with respect to access to markets, credit, and other business operations such as licenses and supplies.

SOEs in Zambia are governed by Boards of Directors appointed by government in consultation with and including members from the private sector. The chief executive of the SOE reports to the board chairperson. In the event that the SOE declares dividends, these are paid to the Ministry of Finance. The board chair is informally obliged to consult with government officials before making decisions. The line minister appoints members of the Board of Directors from public services, private sector, and civil society. The independence of the board, however, is limited as most boards are comprised of a majority of government officials and board members that are appointed by the line minister from the private sector or civil society can be removed.

SOEs can and do purchase goods or services from the private sector, including foreign firms. SOEs are not bound by the GPA and can procure their own goods, works, and services. SOEs are subject to the same tax policies as their private sector competitors and are not afforded material advantages such as preferential access to land and raw materials. SOEs are audited by the Auditor General’s Office, using international reporting standards. Audits are carried out annually, but delays in finalizing and publishing results are common. Controlling officers appear before a Parliamentary Committee for Public Accounts to answer audit queries. Audited reports are submitted to the president for tabling with the National Assembly, in accordance with Article 121 of the Constitution and the Public Audit Act, Chapter 378.

In 2015, the government transferred most SOEs from the Ministry of Finance to the revived Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). The move, according to the government, was to allow line ministries to focus on policy making thereby giving the IDC direct mandate and authorization to oversee SOE performance and accountability on behalf of the government. In 2016, the government stated its intent to review state owned enterprises in order to improve their performance and contribution to the treasury and directed the IDC to conduct a situational analysis of all the SOEs under its portfolio with a view to recapitalize successful businesses while hiving off ones that are no longer viable; these reviews are ongoing. The IDC’s oversight responsibilities include all aspects of governance, commercial, financing, operational, and all matters incidental to the interests of the state as shareholder. Zambia strives to adhere to OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance to ensure a level playing field between SOEs and private sector enterprises.

Privatization Program

There were no sectors or companies targeted for privatization in 2019. The privatization of parastatals began in 1991, with the last one occurring in 2007. The divestiture of state enterprises mostly rests with the IDC, as the mandated SOE holding company. The Privatization Act includes the provision for the privatization and commercialization of SOEs; most of the privatization bidding process is advertised via printed media and the IDC‘s website (www.idc.co.zm ). There is no known policy that forbids foreign investors from participating in the country’s privatization programs.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

Zambia’s economy has shown relatively strong performance since the 1990s, with only recently showing some fatigue the last 2 years due to lack of rainfall, electricity, and challenges in the mining sector. The government in theory limits its direct involvement in business to strategic investments deemed critical for the delivery of public goods and services, and seeks to maintain high standards of consumer protection.

While Zambia is a high-performer among low-income countries in terms of Responsible Business Conduct (RBC), it lacks clearly formulated or well-implemented RBC policies. Zambia ranked 120 among 138 countries on the 2018-2019 Global Competitiveness Report.

The government has sought to improve implementation of legislative and regulatory reforms that impact RBC. As an example, most investment ventures are required to create and submit environmental impact assessments as a prerequisite to the approval process. The government requires many investment sectors, such as insurance, banking, and financial services, to submit annual audited financial statements as a licensing condition. In the case of financial services, quarterly publication of financial statements is compulsory and rigidly enforced by the BoZ.

Zambia has ratified a number of international human rights conventions, such as the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. At the national level, the lead authority for upholding human rights norms is the Human Rights Commission (HRC), while the Industrial and Labor Relations Act addresses labor issues. The Act provides the legal framework for trade unions, employers’ organizations and their federations, the Tripartite Consultative Labor Council, and the Industrial Relations Court. The Employment Act, Chapter 268, is the basic employment law, while the Minimum Wages and Conditions of Employment Act makes provisions for the regulation of minimum wage levels and minimum conditions of employment. Currently, the average minimum wage per month for employees, starting with general or domestic workers, stands at 1,132 kwacha (~USD 62), to include food and transportation.

The Zambian government seeks to maintain high standards of consumer protection by, for example, following the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection. The Competition and Fair Trading Act of 1994 and superseding Competition and Consumer Protection Act of 2010 seek to encourage competition in the economy, protect consumer welfare, strengthen the efficiency of production and distribution of goods and services, secure the best possible conditions for the freedom of trade, expand the base of entrepreneurship, and regulate monopolies and concentrations of economic power. The 2010 Act includes specific consumer protection provisions. The Board of Commissioners is composed of representatives from different ministries and professional associations. Statutory agencies are encouraged by the government to regularly engage in stakeholder consultations whenever new laws and regulations are being considered; this does not always occur in practice, or may occur in ways that are not universally transparent.

Generally, all regulatory agencies that issue operating licenses have statutory reporting requirements that businesses operating under their laws and regulations must meet. For example, the Banking and Financial Services Act has stringent reporting provisions that require all commercial banks to submit weekly returns indicating their liquidity position. Late submission of the weekly returns or failure to meet the minimum core liquidity and statutory reserves incur punitive penalty interest, and may lead to the placement of non-compliant commercial banks under direct supervision of BoZ, closure of the undertaking, or the prosecution of directors.

All companies listed under the Lusaka Stock Exchange (LuSE) are obliged to publish interim and annual financial statements within three months after the close of the financial year. Listed companies are also required to disclose in national print media any information that can affect the value of the price of their securities. According to the Companies Act, Chapter 388, company directors need to generate annual account reports after the end of each financial year. The annual account, auditor’s report or reports on the accounts, and directors’ report should be sent to each person entitled to receive notice of the annual general meeting and to each registered debenture holder of the company. A foreign company is required to submit annual accounts and an auditor’s report to the Registrar.

The government supports measures that encourage responsible business conduct and has recognized the importance of adopting international practices. The main challenges include domesticating international practices and strengthening regulatory capacities. In many cases, the business sector is encouraged by the government to adopt practices that promote responsible business conduct on a “voluntary basis.” For example, the Institute of Directors Zambia (IODZ) actively advocated the introduction of “Board Charters” that set out good corporate standards (such as ethical conduct) with which business enterprises will be associated and will implement. The Citizens Economic Empowerment Commission (CEEC) is also promoting the adoption of “Sector Codes” by the business sectors that commit themselves to supporting citizens’ economic empowerment.

In addition, a number of public institutions have established Integrity Committees that address the strengthening of internal policies and procedures for combating corruption. The private sector is also encouraged to either establish similar Integrity Committees or to strengthen their corporate governance standards to effectively address corruption. Most local manufacturers of consumer products have submitted to voluntary product testing and certification by the Zambia Bureau of Standards (ZABS); ZABS certification is then embossed on the product labels as a “mark of quality” indicating the product’s suitability for consumption. Legislative measures have also been agreed with food processors and drug manufacturers that indicate product manufacturing and expiry dates.

Most mining companies have acceded to the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) adapted in February 2009 for Zambian conditions, and allow independent audits of their operations and financial reporting. EITI audit results are available to the general public. Zambia has been an EITI compliant country since September 2012. The government receives revenue in the form of taxes from all extractive industries, including mining. The mining sector accounts for about 10 percent of GDP and around 70 percent of export revenue. All exploration and mining activities are governed by the Mines and Minerals Act of 2008 and other mining related regulations that include: The Mineral Royalty Tax (Repeal) Act, the Petroleum Exploration and Production Act, the Explosives Act, and the Environmental Protection and Pollution Control Act. The GRZ, through the Ministry of Mines and Minerals, conducts open bidding and grants mining licenses to qualified bidders. The Zambian Revenue Authority collects all payments from mining companies and remits them to the Ministry of Finance. The Zambian Revenue Authority regularly publishes production volumes for copper, cobalt, and gold, and the names of companies operating in the country.

9. Corruption

Zambia’s anti-corruption activities are governed by the Anti-Corruption Act of 2010 and the National Anti-Corruption Policy of 2009, which stipulate penalties for different offenses. While legislation and stated policies on anti-corruption are adequate, implementation sometimes falls short. The Public Interest Disclosure (Protection of Whistleblowers) Act of 2010 provides for the disclosure of conduct adverse to the public interest in the public and private sectors; however, like with other laws and policies, enforcement is weak. Zambia lacks adequate laws on asset disclosure, evidence, and freedom of information. In March 2019, Cabinet approved the Access to Information Bill (ATI); the draft bill had not been made public or presented to Parliament as of March 2019. The bill aims to ensure the government is proactive and organized in disseminating information to the public. Versions of the ATI Bill have been pending since 2002.

Zambia had made some progress in the fight against corruption in the last decade, as reflected by improvements recorded in several governance indicators. However, recent years have seen the persistent perception that corruption has increased, and it remains a primary impediment to governance and development programs. In the 2018 Corruption Perception Index (CPI) report, Zambia ranked 105 out of 180 countries, which is a drop from 96 in the 2017 report. The legal and institutional frameworks against corruption have been strengthened, and efforts have been made to reduce red tape and streamline bureaucratic procedures, as well as to investigate and prosecute corruption cases, including those involving high-ranking officials. Most of these cases, however, remain on the shelves waiting to be tried while officials remain free, sometimes still occupying the positions through which the alleged corruption took place. In March 2018, Parliament passed the Public Finance Management Bill that will allow the government to prosecute public officials for misappropriating funds, something previous legislation lacked. The government has not yet established implementing regulations. In spite of progress made, corruption remains a serious issue in Zambia, affecting the lives of ordinary citizens and their access to public services. Corruption in the police service emerges as an area of particular concern (with frequency of bribery well above that found in any other sector), followed by corruption in the education and health services. The government has cited corruption in public procurements and contracting procedures as major areas of concern.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is the agency mandated to spearhead the fight against corruption in Zambia. The Anti-Money Laundering Unit of the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC) also assists with investigation of allegations of misconduct. An independent Financial Intelligence Center (FIC) was established in 2010, but does not have the authority to prosecute financial crimes. In November 2012, the FIC Board of Directors was appointed and sworn in with a challenge to implement its mandate. Zambia’s anti-corruption agencies generally do not discriminate between local and foreign investors. Transparency International has an active Zambian chapter.

The government encourages private companies to establish internal codes of conduct that prohibit bribery of public officials. Most large private companies have internal controls, ethics, and compliance programs to detect and prevent bribery. The Integrity Committees (ICs) Initiative is one of the strategies of the National Anti-Corruption Policy (NACP), which is aimed at institutionalizing the prevention of corruption. The NACP received Cabinet’s approval in March 2009 and the Anti-Corruption Commission spearheads its implementation. The NACP targets eight institutions, including the Zambia Revenue Authority, Immigration Department, and Ministry of Lands. The government has taken measures to enhance protection of whistleblowers and witnesses with the enactment of the Public Disclosure Act as well as to strengthen protection of citizens against false reports, in line with Article 32 of the UN Convention.

U.S. firms have identified corruption as an obstacle to foreign direct investment. Corruption is most pervasive in government procurement and dispute settlement. Giving or accepting a bribe by a private, public, or foreign official is a criminal act, and a person convicted of doing so is liable to a fine or a prison term not exceeding five years. A bribe by a local company or individual to a foreign official is a criminal act and punishable under the laws of Zambia. A local company cannot deduct a bribe to a foreign official from taxes. Many businesses have complained that bribery and kickbacks, however, remain rampant and difficult to police, as some companies have noted government officials’ complicity in and/or benefitting from corrupt deals.

Zambia signed and ratified the United Nations Convention against Corruption in December 2007. Other regional anti-corruption initiatives are the SADC Protocol against Corruption, ratified July 8, 2003, and the AU Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption, ratified March 30, 2007. Zambia is not a party to the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, but is a party to the Anticorruption Convention. Currently, there are no local industries or non-profit groups that offer services for vetting potential local investment partners. Normally, the U.S. Embassy provides limited vetting of potential local investment partners for U.S. businesses, when contracted as a commercial service.

Resources to Report Corruption

Contact at government agency or agencies are responsible for combating corruption:

Mr. Kapetwa Phiri
Director General, Anti-Corruption Commission
Kulima House, Cha Cha Cha Road, P.O. Box 50486, Lusaka
+260 211 237914
e-mail: kphiri@acc.gov.zm

Contact at “watchdog” organization:

Mr. Maurice Nyambe
Executive Director, Transparency International Zambia
3880 Kwacha Road, Olympia Park, P.O. Box 37475, Lusaka
+260 211 290080
e-mail: MNyambe@tizambia.org.zm

10. Political and Security Environment

Zambia does not have a history of large-scale political violence. It has a laudable record of democratic elections, which has resulted in two peaceful transitions of power from one party to another since independence in 1964. More recently, political tensions have been on the rise. Before and during the 2016 elections, there were numerous clashes of supporters of different political parties, resulting sometimes in injuries and arrests. The leading opposition party contested the election results, leading to a heightened state of political tension that continues to flare up whenever by-elections are held. The U.S. government acknowledged the 2016 election results as representative of Zambians’ choice on election day. In July of 2017, the Zambian parliament approved a 90-day state of emergency decreed by President Edgar Lungu following a series of incidents of arson at local markets, but arrests were never made and critics saw the move as an effort by Lungu to tighten his grip on power by restricting public gatherings. Media freedoms have been curtailed in Zambia, with government institutions taking numerous actions to silence private media critical of the ruling party. Similarly, the government often harasses those who raise voices critical of government actions.

In early 2020, there were pockets of civil uprisings throughout the country. The unrest was triggered by a spate of “gassing” incidents, in which an unidentified gas was sprayed on people in their homes and/or in public, which sickened and injured people, and by rumors of witchcraft and ritual killings. Community protests and patrolling at times spawned protests, riots, and vigilante justice that at times caused unjust personal harm or property damage. The incidents were also fueled by political rivalry and the economic downturn. The situation calmed by mid-February after government implemented curfews and made arrests.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

While an abundance of unskilled labor exists in Zambia, investors complain that the supply of skilled and semi-skilled labor is inadequate. Labor-management relations vary by sector. Zambia’s population is estimated to be over 17.3 million, the majority being of employable age. Labor demand, however, does not match supply and Zambia has high rates of unemployment, youth unemployment, and underemployment while living costs have risen steadily. The government adheres closely to International Labor Organization (ILO) conventions and has ratified all eight ILO core conventions. The government has continuously sought to revise labor laws and improve compliance, but there are still gaps in law and practice. Strikes are not uncommon in the public sector and often are related to the government’s failure to pay salaries or allowances on time, but lawful strikes are very difficult to hold due to several restrictions and conditions.

Labor laws provide for extremely generous severance pay, leave, and other benefits to workers, which can impede investment. Such rules do not apply to personnel hired on a short-term basis. As such, the vast majority of Zambian employees are hired on an informal or short-term basis. In September 2018, the Minimum Wage and Conditions of Employment Act 276 of the laws of Zambia were revised following issuance of Statutory Instrument (SI) number 69 of 2018 covering domestic workers. This revision doubled the minimum wage of certain classes of low-wage workers. The Employment Code Act No. 3 of 2019, which is slated to go in to full effect in May 2020, furthers the employees’ protections and expands severance and gratuity payments, whether the employee is terminated or come to an end of contract, regardless of who employs them.

The Employment Act, Chapter 268 covers employment and labor related issues. While the law recognizes the right of workers to form and join independent unions, conduct legal strikes, and bargain collectively, there are statutory restrictions limiting these rights. Police officers, military personnel, and certain other categories of workers are excluded from exercising these rights. No trade union can be registered if it claims to represent a class of employees already represented by an existing trade union. At least 25 members are required, and registration may take up to six months. The government has discretionary power to exclude certain categories of workers, including prison staff, judges, registrars of the court, magistrates, and local court justices from labor law provisions. The law also gives the labor commissioner the power to suspend and appoint an interim executive board of a trade union, as well as to dissolve the board and call for a new election.

The government generally protects unions’ right to conduct their activities without interference. All categories of workers except police and military are free to form or join unions. Workers’ organizations are independent of government and political parties. Trade unions are independent of government, but the Ministry of Labor and Social Security is ultimately responsible for employment exchange services and enforcing labor legislation. An employer is allowed to terminate a contract of service on grounds of redundancy; however, the Employment Act requires the employer fulfill certain conditions before terminating a contract of service on such grounds. One of these conditions is notifying the employee’s trade union. The Act makes a clear distinction between layoffs and severance. In the event an employee is summarily dismissed, he/she shall be paid upon dismissal the wages and allowances due up to the date of such dismissal. The government formally permits employment of expatriate labor only in sectors where there is scarcity of local personnel, but investors promoting large scale investments can negotiate the number of work permits that they can obtain from the Department of Immigration to employ expatriates.

The law does not limit the scope of collective bargaining, but it allows either party, in certain cases, to refer a labor dispute to court or arbitration. The law also allows for a maximum period of one year from the day on which the complaint is filed within which a court must consider the complaint and issue its ruling. The law provides for the right to strike if recourse to all legal options is first exhausted. The law prohibits workers engaged in a broadly defined range of essential services from striking. Under Zambian law, essential services are defined as any activity relating to the generation, supply, or distribution of electricity; the supply and distribution of water and sewage removal; fire departments; and the mining sector. Employees in the Zambian Defense Forces, judiciary, police, prison, and the Zambia Security Intelligence Service (ZSIS) personnel are also considered essential. The government has power to add other services to the list of essential services, in consultation with the tripartite consultative labor council.

The process of exhausting the legal alternatives to a strike is lengthy. The law also limits the maximum duration of a strike to 14 days, after which, if the dispute remains unsolved, it is referred to the court. A strike can be discontinued if the court finds it not to be “in the public interest.” Workers who engage in illegal strikes may be dismissed by employers. The Industrial and Labor Relations Act, Chapter 269, Part IX covers the settling of labor disputes. Aggrieved parties may report the matter to a labor officer, who would take steps deemed fit to affect a settlement between the parties and would encourage the use of collective bargaining facilities where applicable. In the event of a collective dispute between an employer and a trade union regarding the terms and conditions of employment, claims and demands must be put in writing and both parties must have held at least one meeting with a view to reaching a settlement. Such disputes are referred to a conciliator or board of conciliators to be appointed by both parties to the dispute. If the conciliator fails to resolve the problem, the conciliator will inform the Labor Commissioner. The Commissioner will then request the Minister of Labor to appoint a conciliator who will again call the parties to consider the dispute. If all efforts to resolve the matter fail, it is then taken to the Industrial Relations Court for arbitration.

The practice of collective bargaining is very much used by trade unions. In December 2018, workers of the Zambia postal service (ZAMPOST) went on strike for alleged salary delays for five months. Workers returned to work after a consensus was reached between the postal union and management. In March 2019, unionized teaching and non-teaching staff employed at the University of Zambia went on strike to protest delayed salaries and chronic government underfunding. In 2017, hundreds of Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) employees in Chililabombwe protested to demand salary increases, which they alleged had been static for four years. The government urged the aggrieved miners to allow dialogue between their employer and their respective labor unions to resolve the matter instead of going on strike. Meetings among KCM, the Mine workers Union of Zambia (MUZ), National Union of Mine and Allied Workers (NUMAW) and the United Mine Workers Union of Zambia (UMUZ) resolved the matter but did not disclose settlement details. In March 2018, workers of the Tanzania-Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) in Zambia, who had not received their salaries for the previous three months, threatened to go on strike, but called off the strike after government intervention.

Other internationally recognized fundamental labor rights, including the elimination of forced labor, child labor employment, discrimination, minimum wage, occupational safety and health, and weekly work hours are all recognized under domestic law, but enforcement is often weak. In 2016, Zambia made a moderate advancement in efforts to eliminate the worst forms of child labor. The government hired additional labor inspectors and approved a new development assistance framework that aims to prevent the worst forms of child labor. The government also supported the development of programming to empower adolescent girls and reduce child labor in rural areas. However, children in Zambia continue to engage in the worst forms of child labor, including in the production of tobacco, and in commercial sexual exploitation, sometimes as a result of human trafficking. Gaps remain in the legal framework related to children; for example, the Education Act does not include the specific age to which education is compulsory, which may leave children under the legal working age vulnerable to the worst forms of child labor. In addition, law enforcement agencies lack the necessary human and financial resources to adequately enforce laws against child labor. There is no documented number of children in Zambia who are engaged in child labor, but studies point to a yearly increase in the number of these children, who work primarily in the agriculture and mining sectors. Cotton, tobacco, cattle, gems, and stones are included on the U.S. Government’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor in Zambia.

The Department of Labor and the Department of Occupational Safety and Health of the Ministry of Labor and Social Security monitor labor abuses, as well as health and safety standards in low-wage assembly operations such as construction. Two main social partners, the Zambian Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and the Zambian Federation of Employers (ZFE), assist with Ministry of Labor enforcement. The worker and employer organizations are consulted at tripartite gatherings on any proposed policy document or legislation, and they participate in labor inspections. The Ministry of Labor produces annual inspection reports, which are made available to social partners. In December 2015, Parliament passed and the president signed a suite of amendments to the Employment Act that prohibit casual labor and increase protections for unskilled workers. Zambia has benefited from duty-free and quota-free market access from the GSP in the U.S. market under AGOA.

12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Other Investment Insurance Programs

The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), formally the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), is active in Zambia: several projects are already underway and more opportunities exist in strategic sectors. OPIC and Zambia signed an agreement in June 1999 that provides for ongoing DFC support through the African Trade Insurance Agency. This institution, open to all African states that are members of the AU, provides exporters with insurance against receivables on export trade deals and political risk insurance for trade transactions. Zambia is also a signatory to MIGA, which guarantees foreign investment protection in cases of war, strife, disasters, other disturbances, or expropriation.

Host country currency exchange restrictions can affect the commercial viability of a project, making it difficult to convert and transfer profits. DFC inconvertibility coverage can ensure conversion and transfer of earnings, returns of capital, principal, and interest payments, technical assistance fees, and similar remittances pursuant to the bilateral agreement providing for the DFC program while giving priority for U.S. government expenses.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy
Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD) N/A N/A 2018 $26.72 https://data.worldbank.org/
country/zambia
 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2018 $47 BEA data available at
https://apps.bea.gov/international/
factsheet/factsheet.cfm
 
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2018 -$6 BEA data available at
https://apps.bea.gov/international/
factsheet/factsheet.cfm
 
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A 2018 81.2% UNCTAD data available at
https://unctad.org/en/Pages/DIAE/
World%20Investment%20Report/
Country-Fact-Sheets.aspx
 

* Host country statistical data released is almost non-existent. If it exists, there is not a central source for retrieving the data, and at most times it does not match international sources.

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data**
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward $25,777 100% Total Outward $5,048 100%
Canada $3,747 14.5% United Kingdom $951 18.8%
China, P.R.: Mainland $3,353 13.0% China, P.R.: Mainland $882 17.5%
Switzerland $2,904 11.3% United States $589 11.7%
United Kingdom $2,348 9.1% Congo, Dem. Rep. of the $545 10.8%
South Africa $1,805 7.0% South Africa $517 10.2%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

**Results published 03/2020

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment
Data Not Available.

14. Contact for More Information

U.S. Embassy | Political/Economic Section
Commercial Team
Stand 100, Kabulonga Road, Ibex Hill, Lusaka, Zambia
+260 211 35 7000
Email Address: commerciallusaka@state.gov