Republic of the Congo
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus will negatively impact the Republic of Congo’s (ROC) economy and investment climate for the rest of 2020. The International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Bank of Central African States (BEAC), and the ROC government project between negative 2.3 and negative nine percent gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2020. The predictions for 2020 follow an IMF downward revision of Congo’s 2019 GDP growth from 3.7 percent to negative 0.3 percent.
Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, the country had not fully recovered from a sustained economic crisis caused by the 2014 drop in oil prices. Poor governance and a lack of economic diversification pushed the ROC government to near insolvency, reduced its creditworthiness, and forced the central bank to expend significant foreign currency reserves.
Oil represents the largest sector of the economy and contributes upwards of 60 percent of the government’s annual declared revenue. The non-oil sector consists primarily of the logging industry, but significant economic activity also occurs in the telecommunications, banking, construction, and agricultural sectors. ROC is poised for economic diversification, with vast swaths of arable land, some of the largest iron ore and potash deposits in the world, a heavily forested land mass, and a deep-water International Ship and Port Facility Security Code-certified port. ROC has been eligible for U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act trade preferences since October 2000, providing incentive for export-related investment. ROC participates in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC).
ROC has made significant investments in recent years to develop its infrastructure, including the completion of paved roads linking Brazzaville to the commercial capital of Pointe-Noire and other departments (regions). Significant challenges remain, in particular ROC’s nascent internet and inconsistent supplies of electricity and water, which present both hurdles to and opportunities for foreign direct investment. Significant sections of the country’s road system remain in need of maintenance or paving. The limited railroad network competes with truck and bus traffic for commercial cargo. However, major infrastructure projects still reach major cities, and the government reports spending significant amounts on infrastructure improvements.
Investors report that the commercial environment in ROC has not improved substantially in recent years. The World Bank’s 2020 Ease of Doing Business report ranked ROC at 180 out of 190 countries, and ROC ranked 165 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index 2019. American businesses operating in ROC and those considering establishing a presence regularly report obstacles linked to corruption, lack of transparency, and host government inefficiency in matters such as registering businesses, obtaining land titles, paying taxes, and negotiating natural resource contracts.
|TI Corruption Perceptions Index||2019||165 of 183||http://www.transparency.org/
|World Bank’s Doing Business Report||2020||180 of 190||http://www.doingbusiness.org/
|Global Innovation Index||2019||N/A||https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/
|U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, historical stock positions)||2018||N/A||https://apps.bea.gov/international/
|World Bank GNI per capita||2018||USD 1,640||http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/
1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment
Policies Towards Foreign Direct Investment
The ROC government welcomes FDI in most sectors and particularly in the oil sector, which accounts for 90 percent of FDI inflows. The government has stated an urgent need to attract investment outside of the petroleum sector. In conjunction with an International Monetary Fund extended credit facility awarded in July 2019, ROC pledged to undertake legislative, regulatory, and institutional reforms to improve the investment climate.
The United States and ROC signed an investment agreement in 1994. No known laws or practices discriminate against foreign investors, including U.S. investors, by prohibiting, limiting or conditioning foreign investment in a sector of the economy.
ROC’s Agency for the Promotion of Investments (API), established in 2013, promotes economic diversification by seeking to expand the pool of external investors. API provides French-language advisory services to potential investors and maintains a database of government projects seeking private investor partners.
The government has made no significant efforts to retain foreign investments or to maintain dialogue with investors. The High Committee for Public-Private Dialogue, Le Haut Comité du Dialogue Public-Privé, established in 2012, convened two meetings in 2019.
Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
Foreign and domestic private entities have the right to establish and own business enterprises and engage in all forms of remunerative activity.
ROC has no known limits on foreign ownership or control.
Foreign business entities investing in the petroleum sector must pursue a joint venture with the Congolese National Petroleum Company (SNPC). An ROC executive order of November 15, 2019 requires foreign companies in the hydrocarbons sector to employ Congolese in 80 percent of management positions and 90 percent of all employee positions. There are no other known sector-specific restrictions, limitations, or requirements applied to foreign ownership and control.
ROC has no investment screening mechanism for inbound foreign investment.
Other Investment Policy Reviews
The government has not undertaken any third-party investment policy reviews in recent years.
The ROC Agency for Business Creation, or Agence Congolaise Pour la Création des Entreprises (ACPCE), serves as a “one-stop shop” for establishing a business. ACPCE has offices in Brazzaville, Pointe-Noire, N’kayi, Ouesso, and Dolisie. To establish a business in ROC, investors must provide ACPCE with two copies of the company by-laws, two copies of capitalization documents (e.g. a bank letter or an affidavit), a copy of the company’s investment strategy, company-approved financial statements (if available), and ownership documents or lease agreements for the company’s offices in ROC.
The ACPCE has a website: http://www.acpce.cg/ which serves as an information-only website. Business registration cannot be completed through the website.
The ROC government does not promote or incentivize outward investment. The ROC government does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.
3. Legal Regime
Transparency of the Regulatory System
Lack of transparency poses one of the greatest hurdles to FDI, as investors must navigate an opaque regulatory bureaucracy. Companies routinely find themselves embroiled in tax, customs, and labor disputes arbitrated by court officials who make decisions that do not conform with Congolese law and ROC Ministry of Justice regulations.
ROC has no known informal regulatory processes managed by nongovernmental organizations or private sector associations.
The government develops new regulations internally and rarely requests input from industry representatives. Various ministries have regulatory authority over the individual industries in their area of responsibility, with overall authority coordinated by the Ministry of Economy. The government does not usually offer a formal, public comment period.
The accounting, legal, and regulatory procedures are transparent. ROC uses Francophone Africa’s OHADA – the Organization for Business and Customs Harmonization, or Organisation pour l’Harmonisation en Afrique du Droit des Affaires – system of accounting, legal, and regulatory procedures.
The government does not normally make draft bills or regulations available for public comment.
The government publishes new laws and regulations in ROC’s Official Journal. The Official Journal is available for download at the website of the Secretary General of the Government maintains the Official Journal online at http://www.sgg.cg.
Each government ministry has an inspector general that conducts oversight to ensure that government agencies follow administrative processes. The office of the president additionally has an inspector general who supervises the entire government.
The government announced no new regulatory system, including enforcement reforms, during the reporting period.
The inspector general process is not legally reviewable and not accountable to the public.
No known instances exist where the government made public scientific studies or quantitative analyses on the impact of regulations.
The government makes transparent some public finances and debt obligations, including explicit and contingent liabilities. The Ministry of Finance publishes the arrangements on its website, https://www.finances.gouv.cg/.
International Regulatory Considerations
ROC participates as a member in the Economic Community of Central African States (CEEAC), a regional economic cooperation community, and in the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), a monetary union of six Central African states. These regional economic organizations control much of the national regulatory system.
ROC’s regulatory system for business disputes and regulations governing company registration structure and incorporation incorporate Francophone African regulatory norms promulgated by OHADA – the Organization for Business and Customs Harmonization, or Organisation pour l’harmonisation en Afrique du droit des affaires.
ROC participates as a member country of the World Trade Organization (WTO). The government does not provide information as to whether or not it notifies the WTO Committee of all draft regulations relating to Technical Barriers to Trade. ROC signed the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement but has not begun implementing the agreement.
Legal System and Judicial Independence
The French civil law legal system serves as the basis of the Congolese legal system.
OHADA, the Organization for Business and Customs Harmonization, or Organisation pour l’harmonisation en Afrique du droit des affaires, provides the basis for ROC’s national commercial law, which also incorporates provisions unique to ROC. A commercial court exists in ROC but has not convened since 2016.
The judicial system remains independent in principle, however, in practice the executive branch has intervened in the judicial system.
Appellate courts exist and receive appeals of enforcement actions. Public Law 6-2003, which established the country’s Investment Charter, states that Congolese law will resolve investment disputes. Judgments of foreign courts are difficult to enforce in ROC. Though the government does not usually deny those judgments outright, it may propose process or procedural delays that prolong the matter indefinitely without resolution.
Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment
ROC’s Commercial Court has authority over any legal disputes involving foreign investors. Investors may also file legal complaints in the OHADA court – based in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire – which has jurisdiction throughout Francophone Africa. ROC’s Hydrocarbons Law and Mining Code of 2016 contain industry-specific regulations for foreign investments.
The ROC Agency for Business Creation, or Agence Congolaise Pour la Création des Entreprises (ACPCE), serves as a “one-stop shop” for establishing a business. Its website has limited information about laws, rules, and reporting requirements: http://www.acpce.cg/.
Competition and Anti-Trust Laws
No agencies review transactions for competition-related concerns, either domestic or international in nature. Ministries in general monitor individual industries and review industry-related transactions.
Expropriation and Compensation
The ROC government may legally expropriate property if it finds a public need for a given public facility or infrastructure (e.g. roads, hospitals, etc.).
No recent history of expropriation regarding private companies exists. Historically, however, the ROC government has expropriated private property from Congolese citizens to build roads and stadiums. Law entitles the claimants to fair market value compensation, but the government made such compensation inconsistently.
Beginning in 2012, the ROC government expropriated the land of Congolese private property owners in the Kintele suburb of Brazzaville to build a state-of-the-art sports complex for the 2015 African Games. The government offered no compensation, and property owners complained of a lack of legal recourse against the government.
ICSID Convention and New York Convention
ROC is a party to the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID). The ROC government has not ratified the New York Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
There is no specific domestic legislation providing for enforcement of awards under the ICSID Convention.
Investor-State Dispute Settlement
ROC is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA), which includes binding international arbitration of investment disputes.
ROC has a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with the United States. U.S. investors have made no recent claims under the agreement.
There have been two investment disputes involving U.S. entities in the past ten years.
In one, a company successfully negotiated a settlement with ROC authorities after filing suit in a New York district court. In the second, a company successfully sued ROC in U.S. and French courts over non-payment for goods and services, however, the ROC government refused to recognize the judgements. Congolese courts subsequently issued their own judgements in favor of the ROC government. The ROC government no longer responds to attempts by the company or intermediaries to engage on this dispute.
Local courts have rarely recognized and enforced foreign arbitral awards issued against the government.
There is no known history of extrajudicial action against foreign investors.
International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts
There is no known alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms available in ROC. ROC inconsistently abides by international arbitration for any treaty, international convention, or organization of which it is a member. In practice, arbitral judgments are difficult to enforce.
Commercial courts constitute the domestic arbitration bodies within the country. The commercial court legislation and structure follows French commercial legislation and structure.
Local courts inconsistently recognize and enforce foreign arbitral awards. ROC law allows for the recognitions of foreign judgments when the relevant laws appear sufficiently similar to Congolese law. Congolese courts have not accepted any foreign arbitral awards in recent years.
Post is not aware of any investment disputes involving state owned enterprises in recent years.
ROC has no specific law that governs bankruptcy. As a member of OHADA, the Organization for Business and Customs Harmonization or Organisation pour l’harmonisation en Afrique du droit des affaires, ROC applies OHADA bankruptcy provisions in the event of corporate or individual insolvency. No laws criminalize bankruptcy. ROC does not have a credit bureau or other credit monitoring authority serving the country’s market.
4. Industrial Policies
ROC’s Ministry of Economy, Industrial Development, and Promotion of the Private Sector has overall responsibility for investment promotion. When a potential investor believes its investment will bring substantial investment and job creation to the Congolese economy, it may apply for preferential tax and customs treatment by applying to the Ministry of Finance’s National Committee on Investments. The Minister of Finance chairs this committee, which includes the Minister of Economy and Industrial Development as well as the Minister of Budget Planning. The committee reviews applications annually.
Presidential decree No. 2004-30 of February 18, 2004 defines the requirements for foreign and national companies to benefit from incentives offered by the Congolese Investment Charter. The decree promulgates four types of incentives:
(a)Incentives to export;
(b)Incentives to reinvest the company’s profit in ROC;
(c)Incentives for businesses in remote areas or areas that are difficult to access; and
(d)Incentives for social and cultural investment.
Examples of incentives include: reduced or exempted taxes below the corporate tax rate of 30 percent; reduced customs duties over a period of five to 10 years; a 50 percent reduction in business registration fees; and an accelerated depreciation mechanism. For companies owned at least 25 percent by domestic entities, other incentives include a reduced dividend tax rate of 10 percent, capital gains tax reductions, deductions for business expenditures, reduced rents, and deductible remunerations. Businesses may negotiate other incentives during the incorporation process.
Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation
The ROC government has named four special economic zones (SEZs): in the main economic hub of Pointe-Noire, the capital Brazzaville, and the cities of Ouesso and Oyo. ROC signed memoranda of understanding with the Governments of Mauritius, Singapore, and the People’s Republic of China to advise on the development of the SEZs. The government has also expressed a desire to attract U.S. investment. Little to no activity occurs in the SEZs, and no known timeline exists to render the SEZs operational.
Performance and Data Localization Requirements
Foreign companies must offer local employment to receive tax and investment benefits through the National Committee on Investment. Major foreign direct investment must demonstrate a significant economic windfall for the local community, including increased local employment, to receive an investment agreement from the National Committee on Investment.
ROC’s labor code requires the top manager of all companies to be a Congolese national. The government frequently waives this requirement for multinational companies.
Applications for residence or work permits involve multiple, paperwork-intensive steps. Business have reported that immigration and customs officials solicited bribes during the application process. Visitors require a letter of invitation, approved by the immigration authority, prior to applying for any type of visa. A visitor or an investor must obtain a visa before travel. Authorities do not provide visas on arrival.
The ROC government encourages local purchasing and production but in most cases does not impose requirements. The 2016 Hydrocarbons Law includes local content requirements for companies operating in the energy sector.
The Ministry of Commerce applies price controls on roughly four dozen staple products, including food and fuel. The Ministry of Commerce also subsidizes certain products – such as sugar, for example – to make the domestic market more profitable for companies that might otherwise seek to export additional supply.
ROC enforces water pollution safeguards and forest regeneration requirements in the oil and forestry sectors. All forestry companies, both foreign- and locally-owned, are required by law to process 85 percent of their timber domestically and export it as furniture or otherwise transformed wood, and allows timber companies to export up to 15 percent of their wood product as natural timber. In practice, however, the economy exports much timber as natural timber.The timber industry in ROC increasingly requires international certification, most often Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification. 28 of 32 timber companies in ROC operate without FSC certification. FSC-certified companies may benefit from future government incentives as ROC continues to participate in a Voluntary Partnership Agreement with the European Union’s Forest Law Enforcement and Governance Transparency program and with the United Nations’ Reducing Emissions from Degradation and Deforestation program.
The 2016 Hydrocarbons Law includes local content requirements for companies operating in the energy sector.
No known performance requirements exist for foreign or local companies. No known restrictions apply to U.S. or other foreign firms’ participation in ROC government-financed or subsidized research and development programs.
No known procedures for performance requirements exist in the Republic of the Congo.
No requirements for foreign information technology providers exist to provide source code and/or access to encryption.
No requirements prevent companies from transmitting customer or other business data outside the country.
No known requirements enforce local data storage.
5. Protection of Property Rights
The government enforces property rights, though companies and individuals cite inconsistent enforcement. Mortgages and liens exist. A generally reliable recording system exists.
No known regulations prohibit land lease or acquisition by foreign investors.
The government has no definitive registry of untitled land.
Property ownership can transfer to other owners if the property remains unoccupied for 10 consecutive years while having been simultaneously occupied by another user (squatter).
Intellectual Property Rights
As a member of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), ROC participates in the African Intellectual Property Organization (AIPO). AIPO manages a single copyright system for all member states. Additionally, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), ROC must ensure that intellectual property legislation conforms to WTO norms and standards. The Ministry of Commerce leads on issues related to counterfeit products. Local authorities have historically seized and destroyed contraband items, such as medical supplies and food products. The ROC government reportedly uses unlicensed software on its computers. Intellectual property rights (IPR) infringement remains uncommon overall.
The government has not enacted any new IPR-related laws or regulations in the past year. ROC maintains no formal system of tracking and reporting seizures of counterfeit goods.
ROC is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR)Special 301 Report or the Notorious Markets List.
ROC is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). 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.
6. Financial Sector
Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment
The ROC government maintains a neutral attitude toward foreign portfolio investment and does not widely practice foreign portfolio investment.
ROC does not have a national stock exchange. ROC-based companies may seek regional listing on the Douala Stock Exchange, which merged with the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) Zone Stock Exchange. The Bank of Central African States, BEAC, determines monetary and credit policies within the CEMAC framework to ensure the stability of the common regional currency.
Existing policies facilitate the free flow of financial resources, though complex products are not widely used.
The government and Central Bank respect IMF Article VIII in principle, however, within the last year the Bank of Central African States imposed restrictions on international payments and transfers. Mining and oil companies especially expressed concerns about the new restrictions.
In June 2019, the Bank of Central African States issued a number of directives to implement currency exchange controls previously approved by CEMAC on December 21, 2018. The CEMAC regulation provides the framework, terms, and conditions for the regulation of foreign exchange transactions in the CEMAC member States – Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo. The new regulation increases the BEAC’s role in declaring and authorizing international transactions, the control of the compliance with the foreign exchange regulations and the interpretation of the CEMAC Regulation. The regulation entered into force on March 1, 2019.
The Bank of Central African States (BEAC) monitors credits and market terms. Foreign investors can obtain credit on the local market as long as they have a locally registered company. ROC, however, offers only a limited range of credit instruments.
Money and Banking System
Banking penetration likely remains in the 10- to 12-percent range, although a government survey conducted in 2015 estimated a rate of 25-30 percent. High intermediation costs and high collateral requirements limit the pool of customers. Microfinance banks and mobile banking remain the fastest growth areas in the banking sector.
The current economic crisis and the government’s consecutive years of fiscal deficits have additionally strained the banking sector over the past five years. Overall loan default has increased and has reached about 30 percent in the reporting period due to strained economic conditions.
Non-performing loans increased to approximately 30 percent in 2019.
Fiscal transparency issues limit any estimate of the total assets controlled by ROC’s largest banks. The assets of the largest banks have likely decreased significantly in recent years as a result of the economic crisis.
ROC participates in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) zone and the Central Bank of the Central African States (BEAC) system. BEAC’s regulatory body, the Banking Commission of Central Africa (COBAC), supervises the Congolese banking sector.
Foreign banks and branches may operate in ROC and constitute the majority of banking operations in ROC. BEAC banking regulations govern foreign and domestic banks in ROC. No banks have left ROC in the past ten years.
No known restrictions exist on a foreigner’s ability to establish a bank account.
Foreign Exchange and Remittances
In 2019, the Bank of the Central African States (BEAC) imposed new restrictions on international payments and transfers that have negatively affected foreign exchange. CEMAC regulations require banks to record and report the identity of customers engaging in transactions valued at over USD 10,000. The BEAC recently began monitoring closely fund transfers larger than USD 100,000.
New BEAC restrictions have created difficulties obtaining foreign currencies from commercial banks. No U.S.-based banks operate in ROC but transfers directly to and from the United States are possible.
ROC and other CEMAC member states use the Central African CFA Franc (FCFA, sometimes abbreviated XAF) as a common currency. The CFA is pegged to the Euro as an intervention monetary unit at a fixed exchange rate of 1 Euro: 655.957 CFA Franc.
In 2019, the Bank of the Central African States (BEAC) imposed new restrictions on international payments and transfers that have negatively affected remittances.
In June 2019, the Central Bank of Central African States issued a number of standard operating procedures to implement currency exchange controls. Since the implementation of these regulations, the average waiting period for any fund transfer is 20 days.
Sovereign Wealth Funds
ROC maintains no formal Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF). An ROC law envisages the establishment of an SWF at the BEAC and acquiring mostly risk-free foreign assets. The sovereign wealth fund is not operational.
7. State-Owned Enterprises
As a former people’s republic, state-owned enterprises (SOEs) dominated the Congolese economy of the 1970s and 1980s. The number of SOEs remains comparatively small following a wave of privatization in the 1990s. The national oil company (SNPC), electricity company (E2C), and water supply company (LCDE) constitute the largest remaining SOEs. SOEs report to their respective ministries.
Constraints on SOEs operating in the non-oil sector appear sufficiently monitored and subject to civil society and media scrutiny. The operations of SNPC, however, continue to present transparency concerns. SOEs must publish annual reports subject to examination by the government’s supreme audit institution. In practice, these examinations do not always occur.
The government publishes no official list of SOEs.
Private companies may compete with public companies and have in some cases won contracts sought by SOEs. Government budget constraints limit SOEs’ operations.
ROC has no known program for privatization.
8. Responsible Business Conduct
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) remains a well-known concept in ROC that local communities view favorably. Foreign oil companies constitute the primary CSR actors. Telecommunications and transportation companies and banks have increasingly supported CSR initiatives and improved their public images. The government promotes CSR to finance hospitals, education, nutrition programs, and road construction.
The government has not taken any specific measures to encourage responsible business conduct (RBC). The government has not established a national contact point or ombudsman for RBC, nor has it established a national action plan to define and drive its approach to RBC. The government encourages RBC by partnering with or endorsing companies’ CSR initiatives. RBC policies do not factor significantly into government procurement decisions.
No known high-profile, controversial instances exist of private sector entities negatively impacting human rights.
ROC inconsistently enforces laws related to human rights, labor rights, consumer protection, environmental protections and commerce.
No known corporate governance, accounting, or executive compensation standards exist to protect shareholders.
No independent NGOs, investment funds, worker organizations/unions, or business associations promote or monitor RBC practices. Civil society groups promote individual matters of interest on a case-by-case basis.
ROC does not adhere to the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict-Afflicted and High-Risk Areas. No domestic measures require supply chain due diligence for companies that source minerals that may originate from conflict-affected areas.
ROC has participated in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) since 2012 and published reports up to 2017. No domestic transparency measures require the disclosure of payments made to the government and/or of RBC policies or practices.
ROC adopted a law against corruption by public officials, “Code de Transparence dans les Finances Publiques,” on March 9, 2017. The ROC government inconsistently enforces the law.
The corruption law applies to elected and appointed officials. It does not extend to family members of officials or to political parties.
No specific laws or regulations address conflict-of-interest in awarding contracts or government procurement.
ROC does not encourage or require private companies to establish internal codes of conduct that prohibit bribery of public officials.
Some private companies, multinationals in particular, use internal controls, ethics, and compliance programs to detect and prevent bribery of government officials.
ROC serves as a party to the UN Anticorruption Convention.
ROC does not provide protection to non-governmental organizations (NGOs), to include NGOs investigating corruption.
U.S. companies routinely cite corruption as an impediment to investment, particularly in the petroleum sector, where corruption practices remain prolific.
Resources to Report Corruption
Contact at the government agency or agencies that are responsible for combating corruption:
Emmanuel Ollita Ondongo
Centre Ville, Brazzaville, République du Congo
+242 06 944 6165 or +242 05 551 2229
Contact at a “watchdog” organization:
Rencontre pour la Paix et les Droits de l’Homme (RPDH, the local chapter of “Publish What You Pay” – Publiez Ce Que Vous Payez)
B.P. 939 Pointe-Noire, République du Congo
+242 05 595 52 46
10. Political and Security Environment
Congo has experienced several periods of politically-motivated violence and civil disturbance since its independence in 1960. The most recent period ended in December 2017, when anti-government forces in the Pool region – which surrounds the capital of Brazzaville – signed a ceasefire agreement with the government that has held since that signing.
There are no known examples of damage to commercial projects and/or installations in the past ten years. Civil disturbances have occasionally resulted in damage to high-profile, public places such as police stations.
The political environment is noticeably calmer since the end of the 2017 legislative elections.
11. Labor Policies and Practices
Unemployment in ROC remains high, with youth and women disproportionately affected. Reliable unemployment figures do not exist. The International Labor Organization ILO of the United Nations reports an overall unemployment rate of 18 percent, with unemployment among the 15-24 age group at 12.1 percent.
Skilled labor shortages exist in a number of technical areas, including medicine, engineering, math, science, and banking. The government has no specific training programs to address these shortages.
Excepting in the hydrocarbons sector, no government policy requires the hiring of Congolese nationals.
Government regulations govern employment adjustments attempting to respond to changing market conditions, including a severance requirement. Employers must demonstrate that market conditions have changed and obtain government approval before adjusting employment. Congolese severance laws differentiate between layoffs and firing. An employer must generally document malfeasance in order to terminate an employee for cause.
The government may waive some labor laws to attract or retain investment on a case-by-case basis. ROC has, for example, waived the requirement for certain multinationals to hire a Congolese general manager. No known labor law exceptions exist for Special Economic Zones.
Collective bargaining is widely used in this economy, more than half of companies used it in various industries.
Courts mediate and arbitrate labor disputes.
No major strikes that posed an investment risk occurred during the reporting period.
No serious questions of compliance in law or practice with international labor standards that may pose a reputational risk to investors exist. The International Labor Organization has not identified any potential gaps in law or practice with international labor standards.
The government did not enact any new labor laws or regulations during the last year.
12. U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) and Other Investment Insurance Programs
One U.S. company in Congo has a political risk insurance program with DFC. ROC participates in the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA).
DFC maintains an agreement with ROC that existed between ROC and the Overseas Private Investment Corporation’s (OPIC).
13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics
* Source for Host Country Data: National Institute of Statistics
Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Data not available.
Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment
Data not available.
14. Contact for More Information
Embassy of the United States of America
Boulevard Denis Sassou Nguesso
Brazzaville, Republic of Congo
+ 242 06 612 2000