Albania

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Albanian government leaders have acknowledged that private sector development and increased levels of foreign investment are critical to supporting sustainable economic development. Albania maintains a liberal foreign investment regime designed to attract FDI. The Law on Foreign Investment outlines specific protections for foreign investors and allows 100 percent foreign ownership of companies, except in the areas of domestic and international air passenger transport and television broadcasting. Albanian legislation does not distinguish between domestic and foreign investments.

The Law on Strategic Investments approved in 2015 offers incentives and fast-track administrative procedures, depending on the size of the investment and number of jobs created, to both foreign and domestic investors who apply before December 31, 2023.

The Albanian Investment Development Agency (AIDA) is the entity responsible for promoting foreign investments in Albania. Potential U.S. investors in Albania should contact AIDA to learn more about services AIDA offers to foreign investors (  http://aida.gov.al/  ). The Law on Strategic Investments stipulates that AIDA, as the Secretariat of the Strategic Investment Council, serves as a one-stop-shop for foreign investors, from filing the application form to granting the status of strategic investment/investor. Despite supporting legislation, very few foreign investors have benefited from the “Strategic Investor” status, and almost all projects have been granted to domestic companies operating in the tourism sector.

Foreign and domestic investors have equal rights of ownership of local companies, based on the principle of “national treatment.” There are only a few exemptions regarding ownership restrictions:

Domestic and international air passenger transport: foreign interest in airline companies is limited to 49 percent ownership by investors outside the Common European Aviation Zone, for both domestic and international air transportation.

Audio and audio-visual broadcasting: An entity, foreign or domestic, that has a national audio or audio-visual broadcasting license cannot hold more than 20 percent of shares in another audio or audio-visual broadcasting company. Additional restrictions apply to the regional or local audio and audio-visual licenses.

Agriculture: No foreign individual or foreign incorporated company may purchase agricultural land, though land may be leased for up to 99 years. However, if the company registers in Albania, this limitation on agricultural land does not apply.

Albania currently lacks an investment-review mechanism for inbound FDI. However, in 2017, the government introduced a new provision in the Petroleum Law, which allows the government to reject a petroleum-sharing agreement or the sale of shares in a petroleum-sharing agreement to any prospective investor due to national security concerns.

Albanian law permits private ownership and establishment of enterprises and property. To operate in certain sectors, licenses are required but foreign investors do not require additional permission or authorization beyond that required of domestic investors. Commercial property may be purchased, but only if the proposed investment is worth three times the price of the land. There are no restrictions on the purchase of private residential property. Foreigners can acquire concession rights on natural resources and resources of the common interest, as defined by the Law on Concessions and Public Private Partnerships.

Foreign and domestic investors have numerous options available for organizing business operations in Albania. The 2008 Law on Entrepreneurs and Commercial Companies and Law Establishing the National Business Center (NBC) allow for the following legal types of business entities to be established through the NBC: sole proprietorship; unlimited partnership; limited partnership; limited liability company; joint stock company; branches and representative offices; and joint ventures.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) completed a Trade Policy Review of Albania in May 2016 (  https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp437_e.htm   ). In November 2017, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) completed the first Investment Policy Review of South-East European (SEE) countries, including Albania (  http://unctad.org/en/pages/PublicationWebflyer.aspx?publicationid=1884   ).

The National Business Center (NBC) serves as a one-stop shop for business registration. All required procedures and documents are published online http://www.qkb.gov.al/information-on-procedure/business-registration/  . Registration may be done in person or online via the e-Albania portal. Many companies choose to complete the registration process in person, as the online portal requires an authentication process and electronic signature and is only available in the Albanian language. When a business registers in the NBC it is also automatically registered with the Tax Office, Labor Inspectorate, Customs, and the respective municipality. According to the 2020 World Bank Doing Business Report, it takes 4.5 days and five procedures to register a business in Albania.

Albania neither promotes nor incentivizes outward investment, nor does it restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Individuals and investors face significant challenges with protection and enforcement of property rights. Despite some improvements, procedures remain cumbersome, and registrants have complained of corruption during the process. Over the last three decades, the GoA has drafted and passed much, though not all, of its property legislation in a piecemeal and uncoordinated way. However, the GoA is working to complete the process for registration and compensation of properties, and the law on the finalization of transitional ownership processes adopted in March 2020, specifically aims to consolidate property rights by finalizing land allocation and privatization processes contained in 14 various laws issued between 1991 and 2018. According to the European Commission Report 2021 on Albania, progress on property rights should be made on further first registration of properties and transitional ownership processes, in a transparent and inclusive manner. The GoA aims to fully digitize property documents within 2023, however, the poor state of the data is a risk for title security and a constraint to investment. To streamline the property management process, the GoA established in April 2019 the State Cadaster Agency (ASHK), which merged different agencies responsible for property registration, compensation, and legalization, including the Immovable Property Registration Office (IPRO), the Agency of Inventory and Transfer of Public Properties (AITPP), and the Agency for the Legalization and Urbanization of Informal Areas (ALUIZNI).

The property registration system has improved thanks to international donor assistance, but the process has moved forward very slowly as Albania has yet to complete the initial registration of property titles in the country. In total, about 3.54 million properties were registered as part of the initial registration process. In December 2021, GoA launched a two-year project which aims to complete the digitization of the about 2.3 million remaining properties however plot records for many of these properties are still only in paper form and often in poor and outdated condition. Approximately half a million properties have still not been registered for the first time, which includes the southern coastal area. In 2020, the State Cadaster Agency initiated the process of first registration for eight zones in the Himara municipality area that holds significant potential for the tourism industry.

The Agency for the Treatment of Property (ATP) continued assessing requests and distributing funds for compensation of properties. In 2021, it distributed around USD 9.5 million from the financial fund and an area of around 100 hectares from the land fund.

Albania has registered an estimated 440,000 illegal structures, built without permits, and illicit construction continues to be a major impediment to securing property titles. A process that aims to legalize or eliminate such structures started in 2006 but is not complete. Around 200,000 legalization permits were issued through the end of 2020. The fluid situation has led to clashes between squatters, owners of allegedly illegal buildings, and the Albanian State Police including during the demolition of these structures to make way for public infrastructure projects.

According to the 2020 World Bank’s “Doing Business Report,” Albania performed poorly in the property registration category, ranking 98th out of 190 countries.  It took an average of 19 days and five procedures to register property, and the associated costs could reach 8.9 percent of the total property value. The civil court system manages property rights disputes, but verdicts can take years, authorities often fail to enforce court decisions, and corruption concerns persist within the judiciary.

Albania is not included on the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR’s) Special 301 Report or Notorious Markets List. That said, intellectual property rights (IPR) infringement and theft are common due to weak legal structures and poor enforcement. Counterfeit goods are present in some local markets and shopping malls, including software, garments, machines, and cigarettes. Albanian law protects copyrights, patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and geographical indications, but enforcement of these laws remains weak. Regulators are ineffective at collecting fines and prosecutors rarely press charges for IPR theft. U.S. companies should consult an experienced IPR attorney and avoid potential risks by establishing solid commercial relationships and drafting strong contracts. According to the 2021 International Property Right Index published by Property Right Alliance, Albania ranks 98th out of 129 countries evaluated, registering an improvement compared to the previous year when ranked 112th. It ranked 79th in the subcategory of copyright protection and 23rd in trademark protection.

Amendments to the Albanian Industrial Property Law, introducing new provisions regarding trade secrets and trademarks entered into force in August 2021. The most significant change is the transposition of Directive (EU) 2016/943 on the protection of undisclosed know-how and business information (trade secrets) against their unlawful acquisition, use and disclosure. Trade secrets were previously regulated by the Law on Entrepreneurs and Companies, and Labor Code, and their subject matter was defined in broader terms. Now, under the amended IP law, a trade secret is defined as undisclosed expert knowledge, experience or business information that is not generally known or easily accessible, that has a certain market value, and for which sufficient measures have been taken to keep it a secret.  In 2019, the Criminal Code was amended to include harsher punishments of up to three years in prison for IPR infringement.

In the areas of copyright, patent, and trademarks, the two main bodies responsible are the Copyright Directorate at the Ministry of Culture and the General Directorate of Industrial Property (GDIP), which is in charge of registering, administering, and promoting IPR. Other institutions responsible for IPR enforcement include the Copyright Division of the State Inspectorate for Market Surveillance (SIMS), the Audiovisual Media Authority (AMA), the General Directorate for Customs, the Tax Inspectorate, the Prosecutor’s Office, the State Police, and the courts. In 2018, the National Council of Copyrights was established as a specialized body responsible for monitoring the implementation of the law and certifying the methodology for establishing the tariffs. Two other important bodies in the protection and administration of IPR are the agencies for the Collective Administration (AAK) and the Copyrights Department within the Ministry of Culture. Four different AAKs have merged in 2017 to provide service into a sole window for the administration of IPR.

The 2021 amendments to the IP law also define the role and duties of the State Inspectorate for Market Surveillance (SIMS), the main responsibility of which is to ensure the safety of non-food consumer products by instigating internal market inspections. The SIMS, established in 2016, is responsible for inspecting, controlling, and enforcing copyright and other related rights.  Despite some improvements, actual law enforcement on copyrights continues to be problematic and copyright violations are persistent.  The number of copyright violation cases brought to court remains low. While official figures are not available this year, Customs does usually report the quantity of counterfeit goods destroyed annually.  In cases of seizures, the rights holder has the burden of proof and so must first inspect the goods to determine if they are infringing.  The rights holder is also responsible for the storage and destruction of the counterfeit goods.

Cigarettes are traditionally the most common counterfeited product seized by Customs. According to the EU 2021 report on Albania, the high number of counterfeit products in the country remains a cause for concern. Last year the customs administration suspended the release of more than 23,000 products suspected of infringing IPR.

The GDIP is responsible for registering and administering patents, commercial trademarks and service marks, industrial designs, and geographical indications. In 2020, the number of applications for registration of trademarks continued to rise, amounting to 1,164 national applications and 2,936 international applications. As for patents, 897 patent applications were filed at the GDIP in 2020, of which 12 were national patent applications with Albanian national applicants, and 885 patent applications were patents issued by the European Patent Office seeking protection in Albania.

Albania is party to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Patent Law Treaty, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the Berne Convention, the Paris Convention, and is a member of the European Patent Organization. The government became party to the London Agreement on the Implementation of Article 65 of the European Convention for Patents in 2013. In 2018, Parliament approved the Law 34/2018 on Albania’s adherence to the Vienna Agreement for the International Classification of the Figurative Elements of Marks as well as the agreements of Lisbon and Locarno on international classification and protection of industrial designs. In June 2019, Albania joined the Geneva Act of WIPO’s Lisbon Agreement on Appellations of Origin and Geographical Indications.

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IPR offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at https://www.wipo.int/directory/en/  .

Resources for Rights Holders

Contact at Embassy Tirana on IPR issues:

E-mail: USALBusiness@state.gov 

Country resources:

American Chamber of Commerce

Address: Rr. Deshmoret e shkurtit, Sky Tower, kati 11 Ap 3 Tirana, Albania

Email:  info@amcham.com.al

Phone: +355 (0) 4225 9779

Fax: +355 (0) 4223 5350

(amcham.com.al) 

List of local lawyers:

tirana.usembassy.gov

Algeria

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

The Algerian economy is challenging yet potentially highly rewarding. While the Algerian government publicly welcomes FDI, a difficult business climate, an inconsistent regulatory environment, and sometimes contradictory government policies complicate foreign investment. There are business opportunities in nearly every sector, including agribusiness, consumer goods, conventional and renewable energy, healthcare, mining, pharmaceuticals, power, recycling, telecommunications, and transportation.

The urgency for Algeria to diversify its economy away from reliance on hydrocarbons has increased amid low and fluctuating oil prices since mid-2014, a youth population bulge, and increased domestic consumption of energy resources. The government reiterated its intention to diversify in its August 2020 plan to recover from the COVID-19 crisis. The government has sought to reduce the country’s persistent trade deficit through import substitution policies, currency depreciation, and import tariffs as it attempts to preserve rapidly diminishing foreign exchange reserves. On January 29, 2019, the government implemented tariffs, known as DAPs, between 30-200 percent on over 1,000 goods it assessed were destined for direct sale to consumers. In January 2022, the Ministry of Commerce said it would expand the number of items subject to DAPs to 2,600; it has yet to publish the new list of affected goods.  Companies that set up local manufacturing operations can receive permission to import materials the government would not otherwise approve for import if the importer can show materials will be used in local production. Certain regulations explicitly favor local firms at the expense of foreign competitors, and frequent, unpredictable changes to business regulations have added to the uncertainty in the market.

There are two main agencies responsible for attracting foreign investment, the National Agency of Investment Development (ANDI) and the National Agency for the Valorization of Hydrocarbons (ALNAFT).

ANDI is the primary Algerian government agency tasked with recruiting and retaining foreign investment. ANDI runs branches in Algeria’s 58 states (wilayas) which are tasked with facilitating business registration, tax payments, and other administrative procedures for both domestic and foreign investors. U.S. companies report that the agency is understaffed and ineffective. Its “one-stop shops” only operate out of physical offices and do not maintain dialogue with investors after they have initiated an investment. The agency’s effectiveness is undercut by its lack of decision-making authority, particularly for industrial projects, which is exercised by the Ministry of Industry in general, the Minister of Industry specifically, and in many cases the Prime Minister. While the government operates an ombudsman’s office (Mediateur de la Republique), the office’s activities are not explicitly targeted toward investment retention.

ALNAFT is charged with attracting foreign investment to Algeria’s upstream oil and gas sector. In addition to organizing events marketing upstream opportunities to potential investors, the agency maintains a paid-access digital database with extensive technical information about Algeria’s hydrocarbons resources.

Establishing a presence in Algeria can take any of four basic forms: 1) a liaison office with no local partner requirement and no authority to perform commercial operations, 2) a branch office to execute a specific contract, with no obligation to have a local partner, allowing the parent company to conduct commercial activity (considered a resident Algerian entity without full legal authority), 3) a local company with 51 percent of capital held by a local company or shareholders, or 4) a foreign investor with up to 100% ownership in non-strategic sectors. A business can be incorporated as a joint stock company (JSC), a limited liability company (LLC), a limited partnership (LP), a limited partnership with shares (LPS), or an undeclared partnership. Groups and consortia are also used by foreign companies when partnering with other foreign companies or with local firms.

Foreign and domestic private entities have the right to establish and own business enterprises and engage in all forms of remunerative activity. However, the 51/49 rule requires majority Algerian ownership in all projects involving foreign investments in the “strategic sectors” of energy, mining, defense, transportation infrastructure, and pharmaceuticals (with the exception of innovative products), as well as for importers of goods for resale in Algeria.

The 51/49 investment rule poses challenges for investors. For example, the requirement hampers market access for foreign small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as they often do not have the human resources or financial capital to navigate complex legal and regulatory requirements. Large companies can find creative ways to work within the law, sometimes with the cooperation of local authorities who are more flexible with large investments that promise significant job creation and technology and equipment transfers. SMEs usually do not receive this same consideration. There are also allegations that Algerian partners sometimes refuse to invest the required funds in the company’s business, require non-contract funds to win contracts, and send unqualified workers to job sites. Manufacturers are also concerned about intellectual property rights (IPR), as foreign companies do not want to surrender control of their designs and patents. Several U.S. companies have reported they have policies that preclude them from investing overseas without maintaining a majority share, out of concerns for both IPR and financial control of the local venture, which thus prevent them from establishing businesses in Algeria.

Algerian government officials defended the 51/49 requirement as necessary to prevent capital flight, protect Algerian businesses, and provide foreign businesses with local expertise. For sectors where the requirement remains, officials contend a range of tailored measures can mitigate the effect of the 51/49 rule and allow the minority foreign shareholder to exercise other means of control. Some foreign investors use multiple local partners in the same venture, effectively reducing ownership of each individual local partner to enable the foreign partner to own the largest share.

The Algerian government does not officially screen FDI, though Algerian state enterprises have a “right of first refusal” on transfers of foreign holdings to foreign shareholders in identified strategic industries. Companies must notify the Council for State Participation (CPE) of these transfers. In addition, initial foreign investments remain subject to approvals from a host of ministries that cover the proposed project, most often the Ministries of Commerce, Health, Pharmaceutical Industry, Energy and Mines, Telecommunications and Post, and Industry. U.S. companies have reported that certain high-profile industrial proposals, such as for automotive assembly, are subject to informal approval by the Prime Minister. In 2017, the government instituted an Investments Review Council chaired by the Prime Minister for the purpose of “following up” on investments; in practice, the establishment of the council means FDI proposals are subject to additional government scrutiny. According to the 2016 Investment Law, projects registered through the ANDI deemed to have special interest for the national economy or high employment generating potential may be eligible for extensive investment advantages. For any project over 5 billion dinars (approximately USD 35 million) to benefit from these advantages, it must be approved by the Prime Minister-chaired National Investments Council (CNI). The CNI previously met regularly, though it is not clear how the agenda of projects considered at each meeting is determined. Critics allege the CNI is a non-transparent mechanism which could be subject to capture by vested interests. In 2020 the operations of the CNI and the CPE were temporarily suspended pending review by the former Ministry of Industry, and in November 2021 the Prime Minister reported that almost 2,500 projects are awaiting approval from the council once it resumes activities.

Algeria has not conducted an investment policy review through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) or the World Trade Organization (WTO). The last investment policy review by a third party was conducted by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in 2003 and published in 2004. Civil society organizations have not provided reviews of investment policy-related concerns.

Algeria offers an online information portal dedicated to business creation, www.jecreemonentreprise.dz, though the business registration website www.cnrc.org.dz is under maintenance and has been for more than two years. The Ministry of Commerce is currently developing a new electronic portal at https://cnrcinfo.cnrc.dz/qui-somme-nous/ . The websites provide information about several business registration steps applicable for registering certain kinds of businesses. Entrepreneurs report that additional information about requirements or regulation updates for business registration are available only in person at the various offices involved in the creation and registration process. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also recently established an Information Bureau for the Promotion of Investments and Exports (BIPIE) to support Algerian diplomats working on economic issues abroad, as well as provide local points of contact for Algerian companies operating overseas.

Algeria does not restrict domestic investors from investing overseas, though the process for accessing foreign currency for such investments is heavily regulated. The exchange of Algerian dinars outside of Algerian territory is illegal, as is the carrying abroad of more than 10,000 dinars in cash at a time (approximately USD 72; see section 7 for more details on currency exchange restrictions).

Algeria’s National Agency to Promote External Trade (ALGEX), housed in the Ministry of Commerce, is the agency responsible for supporting Algerian businesses outside the hydrocarbons sector that want to export abroad. ALGEX controls a special promotion fund to promote exports, but the funds can only be accessed for limited purposes. For example, funds might be provided to pay for construction of a booth at a trade fair, but travel costs associated with getting to the fair – which can be expensive for overseas shows – would not be covered. The Algerian Company of Insurance and Guarantees to Exporters (CAGEX), also housed under the Ministry of Commerce, provides insurance to exporters. In 2003, Algeria established a National Consultative Council for Promotion of Exports (CCNCPE) that is supposed to meet annually. Algerian exporters claim difficulties working with ALGEX including long delays in obtaining support funds, and the lack of ALGEX offices overseas despite a 2003 law for their creation. The Bank of Algeria’s 2002 Money and Credit law allows Algerians to request the conversion of dinars to foreign currency in order to finance their export activities, but exporters must repatriate an equivalent amount to any funds spent abroad, for example money spent on marketing or other business costs incurred.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Secured interests in property are generally recognized and enforceable, but court proceedings can be lengthy and results unpredictable. All property not clearly titled to private owners remains under government ownership. As a result, the government controls most real property in Algeria, and instances of unclear titling have resulted in conflicting claims of ownership, which has made purchasing and financing real estate difficult. Several business contacts have reported significant difficulty in obtaining land from the government to develop new industrial activities; the state prefers to lease land for 33-year terms, renewable twice, rather than sell outright. The procedures and criteria for awarding land contracts are opaque.

Property sales are subject to registration at the tax inspection and publication office at the Mortgage Register Center and are part of the public record of that agency. All property contracts must go through a notary.

Patent and trademark protection in Algeria remains covered by a series of ordinances dating from 2003 and 2005, and representatives of U.S. companies operating in Algeria reported that these laws were satisfactory in terms of both the scope of what they cover and the penalties they mandate for violations. A 2015 government decree increased coordination between the National Office of Copyrights and Related Rights (ONDA), the National Institute for Industrial Property (INAPI), and law enforcement to pursue patent and trademark infringements. An Algerian court ruled in favor of a U.S. pharmaceutical company in late 2020 in the first case of alleged patent infringement by a local producer pursued in the courts by a U.S. company.

ONDA, under the Ministry of Culture, and INAPI, under the Ministry of Industry, are the two entities within the Algerian government that protect IPR. ONDA covers literary and artistic copyrights as well as digital software rights, while INAPI oversees the registration and protection of industrial trademarks and patents. Despite strengthened efforts at ONDA, INAPI, and the General Directorate for Customs (under the Ministry of Finance), which have seen local production of pirated or counterfeit goods nearly disappear since 2011, imported counterfeit goods are prevalent and easily obtained. Algerian law enforcement agencies annually confiscate hundreds of thousands of counterfeit items, including clothing, cosmetics, sports items, foodstuffs, automotive spare parts, and home appliances. The government is currently drafting new legislation on counterfeiting and intellectual property to improve enforcement and interagency coordination.

Algeria is listed on the Watch List of USTR’s 2022 Special 301 Report (https://ustr.gov/issue-areas/intellectual-property/Special-301)for, among other reason, ineffective enforcement efforts against trademark counterfeiting and copyright piracy.

Resources for Intellectual Property Rights Holders:

Peter Mehravari
Patent Attorney
Intellectual Property Attaché for the Middle East & North Africa
U.S. Embassy Abu Dhabi | U.S. Department of Commerce U.S. Patent & Trademark Office
Tel: +965 2259 1455 Peter.Mehravari@trade.gov

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at www.wipo.int/directory/en/ .

Andorra

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Andorra has established an open framework for foreign investments, allowing non-residents to create companies in the country, open businesses, and invest in all kinds of assets.

The Foreign Investment Law came into force in July 2012, completely opening the economy to foreign investors. Since then, foreigners, whether resident or not, may own up to 100 percent of any Andorra-based company. The law also liberalizes restrictions on foreign professionals seeking to work in Andorra. Previously, a foreigner could only begin to practice in Andorra after twenty years of residency. Under the current regulations, any Andorran legal resident from a country that has a reciprocal standard can work in Andorra, although special working permits are required for specific professions.

The government of Andorra created Andorra Business ( https://www.andorrabusiness.com ), Andorra’s economic development and promotion office, to provide counseling services to both Andorran companies looking to grow and foreign investors wanting to start new businesses in Andorra. Andorra Business’ mission is to increase competitiveness, innovation, and the sustainability of the economy.

Andorra Business’ five key objectives are:

Promoting key sectors for the diversification of the economy.

Being a motor in the improvement of the public sector and microeconomic environment.

Attracting and supporting both foreign and local investment in key sectors.

Providing support to Andorran businesses to be more competitive on a National and International scale.

Creating favorable conditions for innovation and entrepreneurship, in both the public and private sectors, to create an environment for testing new innovations at the country level.

The Andorran Chamber of Commerce, Industry, and Services of Andorra ( https://www.ccis.ad/ ) aims to promote and strengthen Andorra’s financial and business activity as well as provide services to foreign companies. The Chamber’s activities include organizing a census of commercial, industrial, and service activities; the protection of the general interests of commerce, industry, and services; promoting fair competition; and issuing certificates of origin and other commercial documents.

The Andorran Business Confederation (CEA) provides support to national companies to navigate within Andorra’s new legal, labor, and fiscal framework and facilitates companies’ international expansion projects. CEA also works to foster international investment into the country through its Iwand project , which provides information about Andorra’s economic and fiscal environment ( www.cea.ad ).

The Andorran legal framework has also adapted to international standards. The most relevant laws passed by Parliament to accompany the economic openness include the law of Companies (October 2007), the Law of Business Accounting (December 2007), and the Law of Foreign Investment (April 2008 and June 2012).

The OECD removed Andorra from its “tax haven list” in 2009 after the country signed the Paris Declaration, formally committing to sharing fiscal information outlined by the agreement. With the approval of the Law 19/2016, of November the 30th, on automatic exchange of information on tax matters, Andorra will exchange financial information with signatories of the “Common Reporting Standard” (CRS), developed by the G20 and approved by the OECD Council in July 2014.

From 2011 to 2019, the Parliament approved direct corporate, non-resident, capital gains, and personal income taxes. At 10 percent, well below the European average, Andorra’s corporate tax is more competitive than rates in neighboring Spain or France.

While foreigners may own 100 percent of a trading enterprise or a holding company, the Government must approve the establishment of any private enterprise. The approval can take up to one month and can be rejected if the proposal is found to negatively impact the environment, the public order, or the general interests of the principality.

On June 2021, the IMF released a report  detailing Andorra’s macro-economic trends and investment climate. In the past five years the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), World Trade Organization (WTO), or the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) have not conducted an investment policy review. The government of Andorra, in responding to the economic downturn of COVID, released Horizon 23, an economic recovery roadmap to increase investment competitiveness

In the past five years, civil society organizations have not provided reviews of investment policy-related concerns.

Andorra established Andorra Business, a public/private agency, made up of several ministries, government agencies, associations, and organizations from the private sector. It aims to increase competitiveness, innovation, and sustainability. It provides counseling services to Andorran companies and potential foreign investors to facilitate investment and economic diversification.

Andorran regulations allow for two types of commercial companies: Limited Liability Company (Societat de Responsabilitat Limitada – SL), which has a minimum capital requirement of 3,000 euros; and Joint Stock Company (Societat Anonima – SA) which is normally required for multiple shareholders and has a minimum capital requirement of 60,000 euros.

The business establishment procedures and for share acquisitions or transfers are quite similar to those of other countries, requiring the filling of a simple application form, with the additional unique condition of the presentation of any prior investment authorization received in the country. This same procedure is applicable for incorporation, establishment, extension, branching, or other form of business expansion. Once the company is registered, the foreign investment is established, and the investor is required to deposit the share capital with an Andorran banking entity and proceed to public deed of incorporation before a notary.

The Government’s Andorra Business programs provide grants, counseling, and online resourced to small and medium size companies to foster competitiveness and facilitate internationalization.

The Andorran Chamber of Commerce ( www.ccis.ad ) helps companies search for business opportunities abroad and organizes, with the government, trade missions to explore international business exchanges.

5. Protection of Property Rights

The constitution guarantees the right to private ownership for citizens and residents. Both domestic and foreign private entities now have the right to establish and own business enterprises.

Andorran law protects property rights with enforcement carried out at the administrative and judicial levels. Foreign investments for the purchase of property are possible in Andorra, subject to prior authorization. There is a four percent asset-transfer tax.

Secured property loans are available through the Andorran banking sector. The Andorran Financial Authority (AFA) oversees the banking sector, including mortgages ( https://www.afa.ad/en ).

Andorra joined the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in 1994 and is party to the Paris Convention, the Berne Convention, as well as the Rome Convention since 2004. Andorra is not a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) but holds observer status. The country’s intellectual property rights (IPR) regime is not in compliance with the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

Protection of IPR in Andorra is weak. The legal framework includes the Trademarks Act of May 1, 1995, the Law 26/2014 on Patents of October 30 the Law on Authors’ and Neighboring Rights of June 1999, and Law 23/2011, of December 29, 2011, on the Creation of the Society of Collective Management of Copyright and Neighboring Rights.

In 2012, the Society for the Administration of Authors’ Rights (SDADV) was created to manage the economic rights, neighboring rights, and the interests of copyright holders. Right holders can choose whether to participate in this voluntary collective arrangement though in some cases, the collective arrangement system is compulsory.

Businesses seeking to register a trademark or patent should contact the Andorran Trademarks Office and Patents Office.

Trademarks and Patents Office of the Principality of AndorraMinistry of EconomyEdifici Administratiu del Prat del RullCami de la Grau s/nAD 500 Andorra La VellaTel. (376) 875 600Email: ompa@govern.ad http://www.ompa.ad/ 

Andorra is not listed in the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report nor included in 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/ .

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Data unavailable.

Data unavailable.

Angola

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Angola is actively seeking FDI to diversify capital inflows, boost economic growth, and diversify the country’s economy. Angola has maintained its privatization program (PROPRIV), started in 2019, despite the difficulty attracting investment during the COVID-19 pandemic. PROPRIV offers investment opportunities for foreign investment in state-owned enterprises and other publicly owned assets as the government seeks to liquidate its stake in assets across sectors such as transportation, telecommunications, and banking. Angola has also modernized its tendering process to make it more transparent. Despite the increased openness and concerted effort to attract foreign investors, Angola passed local content regulations for the oil sector in October 2020 restricting the concept of “national company” to companies fully owned by Angolan citizens, as opposed to a companies with at least 51 percent ownership by Angolan entities. The regulation has three regimes determining the types of services that must be contracted with local entities and which can be contracted with foreign entities. The local content regulations apply to all companies providing goods and services to oil sector as well as oil companies.

Angola’s trade and investment promotion agency AIPEX  provides an online investment window platform for investors to register their investment proposals. AIPEX and the Institute of State Assets and Shares work together on roadshows to promote PROPRIV for foreign investors. AIPEX is also responsible for providing institutional support and monitoring investment project execution.

Foreign and domestic private entities can establish and own business enterprises with limitations on foreign entities holding the majority stake in companies in specific sectors. The 2018 Private Investment Law (PIL) establishes the general principles of private investment in Angola for domestic and foreign investors and applies to private investments of any value. Under the PIL, the acquisition of shares of an Angolan entity by a foreign investor is deemed to be a private investment operation. If the investor wishes to transfer funds abroad, the private investment project must be properly registered and executed, and appropriate taxes must be paid before transferring.

Majority foreign shareholding restrictions persist in specific industries such as the oil and gas sector (49 percent cap) and the maritime sector, specifically for shipping, due to their significance in the Angolan economy. Mining rights are granted to private investors by the national diamond company ENDIAMA. The PIL lifted restrictions on having Angolan partners for several strategic sectors such as he telecommunications, hospitality and tourism, transportation and logistics, and information technology.

At the government’s request, the last Investment Policy Review (IPR) of Angola’s business and economic environments was completed in 2019 by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The full report and policy recommendations are accessible at UNCTAD TPR . The WTO’s last IPR was more than five years ago; OECD has never conducted an IPR of Angola.

There are no recent policy recommendations by civil society organizations based on reviews of investment policy related concerns.

Presidential Decree No 167/20, of June 15, 2020, created the “ Single Investment Window ” (Janela Única de Investimento, or JUI), which is aimed at simplifying the contact between the investor and all the public entities involved in the approval of foreign investment projects.

To incorporate a company, investors must obtain a certificate of availability of the corporate name from the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights; deposit share capital and show proof of deposit to a notary; submit a draft incorporation deed, articles of association, and shareholder documents. The company must then register with the Commercial Registrar to register the company’s incorporation in the Angola’s Official Gazette (Diário da República).

Despite efforts to reduce the bureaucracy related to incorporating a business, it still takes around 30 days to incorporate. The business then must register with Tax Authority , the National Institute for Statistics , and the National Institute for Social Security . The business can then initiate licensing procedures.

Angola is also negotiating with the EU on a Sustainable Investment Facilitation Agreement , the EU’s first bilateral agreement on investment facilitation. The sides have had two rounds of negotiations in June and December 2021. The agreement intends to simplify procedures and encourage e-governance and public-private dialogue, while diversifying Angola’s economy and helping small and medium sized enterprises invest. Its goal is to support Angola’s ability to attract and retain investment by improving the investment climate for foreign and local investors.

The Angolan government does not promote or incentivize outward investment, nor does it restrict Angolans from investing abroad. Investors are free to invest in any foreign jurisdiction.

Domestic investors often prefer to invest in Portuguese-speaking countries, with few investing in neighboring countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. The bulk of investment is in real estate, fashion, fashion accessories, and domestic goods.

Due to foreign exchange constraints, there has been very limited investment abroad by domestic investors.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Property rights enforcement remains difficult, given that the Land Law (Lei de Terras de Angola) has not been revised since its approval in December 2004 and two-thirds of Angolans are directly dependent on land property rights due to their work in agriculture. Normalization of land ownership in Angola persists with problems such as difficulties in completing land claims, land grabbing, lack of reliable government records, and unresolved status of traditional land tenure. Among other provisions, the Land Law includes a formal mechanism for transforming traditional land property rights into legal land property rights (clean titles), since a transparent system of land property rights enforcement did not exist before the civil war ended in 2002.

Foreigners are permitted to hold land in Angola through acquisition or lease under the 2004 Land Law. The Land Law sets out requirements for all potential landholders to acquire land, with the main distinctions for foreign entities being the type of identification (passport) a foreign citizen must produce.

Mortgages exist but can be difficult to obtain.

According to the Land Law, the State may transfer or constitute, for the benefit of Angolan natural or legal persons, a multiplicity of land rights on land forming part of its private domain. Although, it is possible to transfer ownership over some categories of land, the transfer of State land almost never implies the transfer of its ownership, but only the formation of minor land rights with leasehold being the most common form. The recipient of private property rights from the State can only transfer those rights with the consent of the local authority and after a period of five years of effective use of the land. Weak land tenure legislation and lack of secure legal guarantees (clean titles) are the reasons given by most commercial banks for their greater than 80 percent refusal rate for loans since land is used as collateral. Foreign real-estate developers therefore seek out public-private partnership (PPP) arrangements with State actors who can provide protection against land disputes and financial risks involved in projects that require significant cash outlays to get started.

Registering parcels of land over 10,000 hectares must be approved by the Council of Ministers. Registering property takes 190 days on average, ranking 167 out of 173 according to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 survey, with fees averaging three percent of property value. Owners must wait five years after purchasing before reselling land. There are no written regulations setting out guidelines defining different forms of land occupation, including commercial use, traditional communal use, leasing, and private use. Over the years, the government has given out large parcels of land to individuals to support the development of commercial agriculture. However, this process has largely proceeded in an unsystematic way and does not follow any formal rule change on land tenure by the State.

Before obtaining proof of title nationwide, an Angolan citizen or an Angolan legal entity must also obtain the Real or Leasing Rights (“Usufruct”) of the Land from the Institute of Planning and Urban Management of Luanda (IPGUL), an often-time-consuming procedure that can take up to a year or more. However, if a company already owns the land, it must secure a land property title deed from the Real Estate Registry in Luanda. The local registry – if the property is not in the capital – then produces an updated property certificate (certidão predial) with the complete description of the property including owner(s) information and any charges, liens, and/or encumbrances pending on the property. The complex administration of property laws and regulations that govern land ownership and transfer of real property as well as its tedious registration process may reduce investor appetite for real estate investments in Angola. Dispatch no. 174/11 of March 11, 2011, mandates the total fees for the property certificate include stamp duty (calculated according to the Law on Stamp Duty); justice fees (calculated according to the Law on Justice Fees); fees to justice officers (according to the set contributions for the Justice budget); along with notary and other fees. The total fee is also dependent on the current value of the fiscal correction unit (UCF), set at 88 kwanzas.

Domestic enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights can be difficult due to lack of resources and competing priorities, but the National Authority of Economic Inspection and Food Safety (ANIESA) was able to identify and break up a network of businesses selling counterfeit cosmetic products in early 2021. Authorities traced the source of the products to DRC, highlighting concerns about lack of border measures to intercept counterfeits. The Angolan Government signed an agreement with Portugal in October 2021 to jointly combat counterfeit medicines. In December 2021, ANIESA suspended the operations of three factories (located in Viana, Kikuxi, and Benfica) for producing counterfeit Havaianas-branded sandals. Trademark registration is mandatory to be granted rights over a mark. Angolan trademarks are valid for 10 years from the filing date and renewable for further periods of 10 years.

The Instituto Angolano de Propriedade Intelectual (IAPI) is the governmental body within the Ministry of Industry & Commerce charged with implementing patent and trademark law. The Ministry of Culture, Tourism & Environment oversees copyright law.

Regarding patents, additional fees are due for each claim after the 15th. Additionally, the request for the anticipation or postponement of the publication of a patent is now provided by the new applicable fees.

Angola is not listed in United States Trade Representative’s (USTR) Special 301 report nor the notorious market report.

For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/. 

Antigua and Barbuda

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

The Government of Antigua and Barbuda encourages foreign direct investment, particularly in industries that create jobs, enhance economic activity, earn foreign currency, and have a positive impact on its citizens. Diversification of the economy remains a priority.

Through the ABIA, the government facilitates and supports foreign direct investment in the country and maintains an open dialogue with current and potential investors. All potential investors are afforded the same level of business facilitation services. ABIA offers complementary support services to investors exploring business opportunities, including facilitation of incentives and concessions, project monitoring, and general assistance. The government launched an additional website in early 2021 to serve as a “business hub for potential investors,” http://antiguabarbuda.com .

While the government welcomes all foreign direct investment, it has identified tourism and related services, manufacturing, agriculture and fisheries, information and communication technologies, business process outsourcing, financial services, health and wellness services, creative industries, education, yachting and marine services, real estate, and renewable energy as priority investment areas. Uncertainty about the trajectory of economic recovery of the tourism, commercial aviation, and cruise industries impacts the potential for projects in those sectors.

Local laws do not place any limits on foreign control of investment and ownership in Antigua and Barbuda. Foreign investors may hold up to 100 percent of an investment. Local and foreign entrepreneurs need approximately 40 days from start to finish to transfer the title on a piece of property. In 1995, the government established a permanent residency program to encourage high-net-worth individuals to establish residency in Antigua and Barbuda for up to three years. As residents, their income is free of local taxation. In 2020, the government established the Nomad Digital Residence Visa program in which eligible remote workers can apply for a two-year special resident authorization. Under this program, the visa holders are also exempt from paying local income taxes. These programs are separate from the Citizenship by Investment program.

The ABIA evaluates all foreign direct investment proposals applying for government incentives and provides intelligence, business facilitation, and investment promotion to establish and expand profitable business enterprises. The ABIA also advises the government on issues that are important to the private sector and potential investors to increase the international competitiveness of the local economy.

The government of Antigua and Barbuda treats foreign and local investors equally with respect to the establishment, acquisition, expansion, management, conduct, operation, and sale or other disposition of investments in its territory.

The OECS, of which Antigua and Barbuda is a member, has not conducted a World Trade Organization (WTO) trade policy review since 2014. There have also not been any investment policy reviews by civil society organizations in the past five years.

Established in 2006, the ABIA facilitates foreign direct investment in priority sectors and advises the government on the formation and implementation of policies and programs to attract investment. The ABIA provides business support services and market intelligence to all investors. It also offers an online guide that is useful for navigating the laws, rules, procedures, and registration requirements for foreign investors. The guide is available at https://www.theiguides.org/public-docs/guides/antiguabarbuda .

All potential investors applying for government incentives must submit their proposals for review by the ABIA to ensure the project is consistent with national interests and provides economic benefits to the country.

To register a business. the general practice is to retain a local attorney who prepares all the relevant incorporation documents. A business must register with the Intellectual Property and Commercial Office, the Inland Revenue Department, the Medical Benefits Scheme, the Social Security Scheme, and the Board of Education.

The Antigua and Barbuda Science Innovation Park (ABSIP) launched in 2019 to support and create business startup opportunities that will generate sustainable business enterprises. ABSIP provides business incubation and financing, access to business financing, branding, training, partnership establishment, and other services. ABSIP’s website is  http://absip.gov.ag  .

The Prime Minister’s Entrepreneurial Development Programme (EDP) supports the creation of micro and small businesses with the intent of increasing the Antiguan and Barbudan ownership share of the country’s economy. Priority sectors in which EDP grants loans are agriculture and agro-processing, manufacturing, information technology, e-business, and tourism.

Although the government of Antigua and Barbuda prioritizes investment return as a key component of its overall economic strategy, there are no formal mechanisms in place to achieve this. To sustain future economic growth, Antigua and Barbuda’s economy depends on significant foreign direct investment.

Local laws do not place any restrictions on domestic investors seeking to do business abroad. Local companies in Antigua and Barbuda are actively encouraged to take advantage of export opportunities specifically related to the country’s membership in the OECS Economic Union and the Caribbean Community Single Market and Economy (CSME).

5. Protection of Property Rights

The government owns 55 percent of Antigua’s land, and the remaining 45 percent is privately owned. The Lands Division in the Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries and Barbuda Affairs is the custodian of Crown lands on behalf of the government.

Historically, the residents of Barbuda owned all land on Barbuda communally, however the recent appropriation of land for new development projects has resulted in legal challenges to this system. In the aftermath of 2017’s Hurricane Irma, the government attempted to introduce a private property system by amending and repealing the Barbuda Land Act and replacing it with the Crown Land Regulation Act, which would allow private ownership of land in Barbuda by non-Barbudans. Barbudan representatives have filed a legal challenge to the constitutionality of this legislation in the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. Therefore, the Crown Land Regulation Act has not yet taken effect.

Citizens and non-citizens can lease or buy land on the island of Antigua from the government or the private sector. Land sold to non-citizens is subject to the Non-Citizen Land Holding Regulation Act, which requires buyers to obtain a license to purchase land. Buyers are advised to consult with a local attorney. All land titles and purchases must be registered at the Land Registry.

The Town and Country Planning office of the Development Control Authority designates land use areas, including for commercial, agricultural, industrial, or tourism use. The government’s Free Trade and Processing Zone manages land and facilities which are geared towards attracting foreign direct investment in export sectors.

Because Antigua and Barbuda is a member of the ECCU, lending institutions in Antigua and Barbuda generally follow the guidelines published by the ECCB. However, the lack of capital market depth in the sub-region makes the use of securitization difficult.

Antigua and Barbuda has an extensive legislative framework supporting the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), however, enforcement efforts are inconsistent. Antigua and Barbuda is a member of the United Nations World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It is a signatory to the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks, and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literacy and Artistic Works.

Article 66 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the CSME commits all 15 members to implement stronger intellectual property protection and enforcement. The CARIFORUM-EU EPA contains the most detailed obligations regarding intellectual property in any trade agreement to which Antigua and Barbuda is a party. The EPA recognizes the protection and enforcement of IPR. Article 139 of the EPA requires parties to “ensure an adequate and effective implementation of the international treaties dealing with intellectual property to which they are parties, and of the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS).” As a member of the WTO, Antigua and Barbuda recognizes the WTO TRIPS Agreement.

The Comptroller of Customs leads enforcement and prevention efforts against counterfeit goods, which include detention, seizure, and forfeiture. The Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda has extensive powers of search and seizure in the investigation of alleged infringements and has the power to confiscate suspected infringing copies.

Antigua and Barbuda is not included in the United States Trade Representative 2022 Special 301 Report or the 2021 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy.

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/ .

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data
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 $1,668 2019 1,687.5 www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data: BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2020 7 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 2019 5 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 2020 81.4 UNCTAD data available at
https://unctad.org/topic/investment/world-investment-report
* Source for Host Country Data: Eastern Caribbean Central Bank:  https://www.eccb-centralbank.org/statistics/gdp-datas/comparative-report/1

Table 3
Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Data not available.

Argentina

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

The Government of Argentina identified its top economic priorities for 2022 as reaching an agreement with the IMF to renegotiate the 2018 Stand-By Arrangement, controlling inflation, and continuing the post-pandemic economic recovery. When the Fernandez administration took office in late 2019, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, International Trade, and Worship became the lead governmental entity for investment promotion.  The Fernandez administration does not have a formal business roundtable or other dialogue established with international investors, although it does engage frequently with domestic and international companies.

Market regulations such as capital controls, trade restrictions, and price controls enhance economic distortion that hinders the investment climate in the country.

Foreign and domestic investors generally compete under the same conditions in Argentina. However, foreign investment is restricted in specific sectors such as aviation and media. Foreign ownership of rural productive lands, bodies of water, and areas along borders is also restricted.

Argentina has a National Investment and Trade Promotion Agency that provides information and consultation services to investors and traders on economic and financial conditions, investment opportunities, and Argentine laws and regulations. The agency also helps small and medium- sized companies (SMEs) export their products, provides matchmaking services, and organizes roadshows and trade delegations. Upon the change of administration, the government placed the Agency under the direction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) to improve coordination between the Agency and Argentina´s foreign policy. The Under Secretary for Trade and Investment Promotion of the MFA works as a liaison between the Agency and provincial governments and regional organizations. The new administration also created the National Directorate for Investment Promotion under the Under Secretary for Trade and Investment Promotion, making the Directorate responsible for promoting Argentina as an investment destination. The Directorate´s mission also includes determining priority sectors and projects and helping Argentine companies expand internationally and/or attract international investment.

The agency’s web portal provides information on available services ( https://www.inversionycomercio.org.ar/ ). The 23 provinces and the City of Buenos Aires also have their own provincial investment and trade promotion offices.

Foreign and domestic commercial entities in Argentina are regulated by the Commercial Partnerships Law (Law 19,550), the Argentina Civil and Commercial Code, and rules issued by the regulatory agencies. Foreign private entities can establish and own business enterprises and engage in all forms of remunerative activity in nearly all sectors.

Full foreign equity ownership of Argentine businesses is not restricted, for the most part, with exceptions in the air transportation and media industries. The share of foreign capital in companies that provide commercial passenger transportation within the Argentine territory is limited to 49 percent per the Aeronautic Code Law 17,285. The company must be incorporated according to Argentine law and domiciled in Buenos Aires. In the media sector, Law 25,750 limits foreign ownership in television, radio, newspapers, journals, magazines, and publishing companies to 30 percent.

Law 26,737 (Regime for Protection of National Domain over Ownership, Possession or Tenure of Rural Land) establishes that a foreigner cannot own land that allows for the extension of existing bodies of water or that are located near a Border Security Zone. In February 2012, the government issued Decree 274/2012 further restricting foreign land ownership to a maximum of 30 percent of national land and 15 percent of productive land. Foreign individuals or foreign company ownership is limited to 1,000 hectares (2,470 acres) in the most productive farming areas. In June 2016, the Government of Argentina issued Decree 820 easing the requirements for foreign land ownership by changing the percentage that defines foreign ownership of a person or company, raising it from 25 percent to 51 percent of the social capital of a legal entity. Waivers are not available.

Argentina does not maintain an investment screening mechanism for inbound foreign investment. U.S. investors are not at a disadvantage to other foreign investors or singled out for discriminatory treatment.

Argentina was last subject to an investment policy review by the OECD in 1997 and the fifth trade policy review by the WTO in September 2021 ( https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp512_e.htm ). The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) has not done an investment policy review of Argentina.

In 2019, automotive sector representatives, including the Association of Automobile Manufacturers (ADEFA, or Asociación de Fábricas de Automotores) and the Asociación of Auto Parts Manufacturers (AFAC, or Asociación de Fábricas Argentinas de Componentes), published Plan 2030, a strategic plan for investment and development in the automotive sector. (http://www.cafas.org.ar/assets/img/noticias/Plan2030.pdf ) In 2022, the Industrial Union of Argentina (UIA, or Unión Industrial Argentina) published a White Book of recommendations to promote development and increase productivity in Argentina. (https://www.uia.org.ar/general/3889/propuestas-para-un-desarrollo-productivo-federal-sustentable-e-inclusivo-libro-blanco/ ) The Rosario Board of Trade (BCR, or Bolsa de Comercio de Rosario) published regular reports and recommendations for agricultural trade and investment policies. ( https://www.bcr.com.ar/es )

In 2019, stemming from the country’s deteriorating financial and economic situation, the Argentine government re-imposed capital controls on businesses and consumers, limiting their access to foreign exchange.  The government continued to update and increase both capital controls and taxes on imports and exports throughout 2021, generating continued uncertainty in the business climate.

With the stated aim of keeping inflation under control and avoiding production shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic, the government increased market interventions in 2020, creating further market distortions that may deter investment. During 2021, bans and other limits on beef exports were introduced to address rising domestic prices. Argentina currently has s a consumer goods price control program, Precios Cuidados, a voluntary program established in 2014.The Argentine Congress also passed the Shelves Law (No. 27,545), which regulates the supply, display, and distribution of products on supermarket shelves and virtual stores. Key articles of the Law are still pending implementing regulations. Private companies expressed concern over the final regulatory framework of the Law, which could affect their production, distribution, and marketing business models.

In August 2020, the government issued an edict freezing prices for telecommunication services (mobile and land), cable and satellite TV, and internet services until December 2020, later extending the measure into 2021. Some telecommunication companies appealed through the courts and were granted protection from the edict. The health sector was also subject to limits on price increases. In February 2021, the Secretary of Trade took administrative action against major consumer firms and food producers for purportedly causing supermarket shortages by withholding production and limiting distribution. Companies are currently contesting this decision. In March 2021, the Secretary of Domestic Trade issued Resolution 237/2021 establishing a national registry to monitor the production levels, distribution, and sales of private companies. If companies fail to comply, they could be subject to fines or closure. Tighter import controls imposed by the Fernandez administration have affected the business plans of private companies that need imported inputs for production. The private sector noted increased discretion on the part of trade authorities responsible for both approving import licenses and obtaining access to the foreign exchange market to pay for imports.

The Ministry of Production eased bureaucratic hurdles for foreign trade through the creation of a Single Window for Foreign Trade (“VUCE” for its Spanish acronym) in 2016. The VUCE centralizes the administration of all required paperwork for the import, export, and transit of goods (e.g., certificates, permits, licenses, and other authorizations and documents). The Argentine government has not fully implemented the VUCE for use across the country.

Argentina subjects imports to automatic or non-automatic licenses that are managed through the Comprehensive Import Monitoring System (SIMI, or Sistema Integral de Monitoreo de Importaciones), established in December 2015 by the National Tax Agency (AFIP by its Spanish acronym) through Resolutions 5/2015 and 3823/2015. The SIMI system requires importers to submit detailed information electronically about goods to be imported into Argentina. Once the information is submitted, the relevant Argentine government agencies can review the application through the VUCE and make any observations or request additional information. The list of products subject to non-automatic licensing has been modified several times since the beginning of the SIMI system. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the government reclassified goods needed to combat the health emergency previously subject to non-automatic import licenses to automatic import licenses. During 2021, the number of non-automatic import licenses did not significantly change, although obtaining dollars from the Argentine Central Bank to pay for imports was often difficult for importers. Approximately 1,500 tariff lines are currently subject to non-automatic licenses.

The Argentine Congress approved an Entrepreneurs’ Law in March 2017, which allows for the creation of a simplified joint-stock company (SAS, or Sociedad por Acciones Simplificada) online within 24 hours of registration. However, in March 2020, the Fernandez administration annulled the 24-hour registration system. Industry groups said this hindered the entrepreneurship ecosystem by revoking one of the pillars of the Entrepreneurs’ Law.

In December 2020, the government issued the regulatory framework for the Knowledge Based-Economy Law, which was passed in October 2020. The Law establishes tax benefits for entrepreneurs until December 2029. The complete list of activities included in the tax benefit can be found at: http://servicios.infoleg.gob.ar/infolegInternet/verNorma.do;jsessionid=56625A2FC5152F34ECE583158D581896?id=346218 .

Foreign investors seeking to set up business operations in Argentina follow the same procedures as domestic entities without prior approval and under the same conditions as local investors. To open a local branch of a foreign company in Argentina, the parent company must be legally registered in Argentina. Argentine law requires at least two equity holders, with the minority equity holder maintaining at least a five percent interest. In addition to the procedures required of a domestic company, a foreign company establishing itself in Argentina must legalize the parent company’s documents, register the incoming foreign capital with the Argentine Central Bank, and obtain a trading license.

A company must register its name with the Office of Corporations (IGJ, or Inspección General de Justicia). The IGJ website describes the registration process, and some portions can be completed online (https://www.argentina.gob.ar/justicia/igj/guia-de-tramites ). Once the IGJ registers the company, the company must request that the College of Public Notaries submit the company’s accounting books to be certified with the IGJ. The company’s legal representative must obtain a tax identification number from AFIP, register for social security, and obtain blank receipts from another agency. Companies can register with AFIP online at www.afip.gob.ar  or by submitting the sworn affidavit form No. 885 to AFIP.

Details on how to register a company can be found at the Ministry of Productive Development’s website: https://www.argentina.gob.ar/produccion/crear-una-empresa . Instructions on how to obtain a tax identification code can be found at: https://www.argentina.gob.ar/obtener-el-cuit-por-internet .

The enterprise must also provide workers’ compensation insurance for its employees through the Workers’ Compensation Agency (ART, or Aseguradora de Riesgos del Trabajo). The company must register and certify its accounting of wages and salaries with the Secretariat of Labor, within the Ministry of Labor, Employment, and Social Security.

The Ministry of Productive Development offers attendance-based courses and online training for businesses. The training menu can be viewed at: https://www.argentina.gob.ar/produccion/capacitacion .

The National Directorate for Investment Promotion under the Under Secretary for Trade and Investment Promotion at the MFA assists Argentine companies in expanding their business overseas, in coordination with the National Investment and Trade Promotion Agency. Argentina does not have any restrictions regarding domestic entities investing overseas, nor does it incentivize outward investment.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Secured interests in property, including mortgages, are recognized in Argentina. Such interests can be easily and effectively registered. They also can be readily bought and sold. Argentina manages a national registry of real estate ownership (Registro de la Propiedad Inmueble) at http://www.dnrpi.jus.gov.ar/ . No data is available on the percent of all land that does not have clear title. There are no specific regulations regarding land lease and acquisition of residential and commercial real estate by foreign investors. Law 26,737 (Regime for Protection of National Domain over Ownership, Possession or Tenure of Rural Land) establishes the restrictions of foreign ownership on rural and productive lands, including water bodies. Foreign ownership is also restricted on land located near borders.

Legal claims may be brought to evict persons unlawfully occupying real property, even if the property is unoccupied by the lawful owner. However, these legal proceedings can be quite lengthy, and until the legal proceedings are complete, evicting squatters is problematic. The title and actual conditions of real property interests under consideration should be carefully reviewed before acquisition.

Argentine Law 26.160 prevents the eviction and confiscation of land traditionally occupied by indigenous communities in Argentina or encumbered with an indigenous land claim. Indigenous land claims can be found in the land registry. Enforcement is carried out by the National Institute of Indigenous Affairs, under the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights.

The Government of Argentina adheres to some treaties and international agreements on intellectual property (IP) and belongs to the World Intellectual Property Organization and the World Trade Organization. The Argentine Congress ratified the Uruguay Round agreements, including the provisions on intellectual property, in Law 24425 in 1995.

The U.S. Trade Representative (USTR)’s 2021 Special 301 Report listed Argentina on the Priority Watch List. Trading partners on the Priority Watch List present the most significant concerns regarding inadequate or ineffective IP protection or enforcement or actions that otherwise limit market access for persons relying on IP protection. For a complete version of the 2021 Report, see: https://ustr.gov/sites/default/files/2020_Special_301_Report.pdf .

Argentina continues to present long-standing and well-known challenges to intellectual property (IP)-intensive industries, including those from the United States.  A key deficiency in the legal framework for patents is the unduly broad limitations on patent eligible subject matter.  Pursuant to a highly problematic 2012 Joint Resolution establishing guidelines for the examination of patents, Argentina rejects patent applications for categories of pharmaceutical inventions that are eligible for patentability in other jurisdictions, including in the United States.  Additionally, to be patentable, Argentina requires that processes for the manufacture of active compounds disclosed in a specification be reproducible and applicable on an industrial scale.  Stakeholders assert that Resolution 283/2015, introduced in September 2015, also limits the ability to patent biotechnological innovations based on living matter and natural substances.  These measures have interfered with the ability of companies investing in Argentina to protect their IP and may be inconsistent with international norms.

Another ongoing challenge to the innovative agricultural chemical and pharmaceutical sectors is inadequate protection against the unfair commercial use, as well as unauthorized disclosure, of undisclosed test or other data generated to obtain marketing approval for products in those sectors.  Argentina made progress on eliminating the patent application backlog, however, this did not include the backlog for pharmaceutical or biotechnology innovations. The number of patent examiners remains insufficient with retention and recruitment hampered by low public sector salaries. Argentina did not extend the Patent Prosecution Highway signed between the National Institute of Industrial Property’s (INPI) and the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which expired in March 2020.

Enforcement of IP rights in Argentina continues to be a challenge, and stakeholders report widespread unfair competition from sellers of counterfeit and pirated goods and services.  La Salada in Buenos Aires remains the largest counterfeit market in Latin America and is cited in USTR’s 2021 Review of Notorious Markets for Piracy and Counterfeiting.  Argentine police generally do not take ex officio actions, prosecutions can stall and languish in excessive formalities, and, when a criminal case does reach final judgment, criminal infringers rarely receive deterrent sentences. Hard goods counterfeiting and optical disc piracy are widespread, and online piracy continues to grow due to nearly nonexistent criminal enforcement against such piracy.  As a result, IP enforcement online in Argentina consists mainly of right holders trying to convince Argentine internet service providers to agree to take down specific infringing works, as well as attempting to seek injunctions in civil cases, both of which can be time-consuming and ineffective.  Rights holders also cite widespread use of unlicensed software by Argentine private enterprises and the government.

Argentina made limited progress in IP protection and enforcement in a year marked by high inflation, sovereign debt negotiations with the IMF, and political conflicts within the ruling coalition.  The pressing economic situation led to an increase of counterfeit products sales in informal markets once the confinement measures enacted during the COVID-19 pandemic were relaxed in the second semester of 2020. Online sales of counterfeit products, especially apparel and footwear spiked amidst the pandemic. The Argentine Confederation of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises noted an increase of national production of counterfeit sportswear, while sales of counterfeit luxury goods such as handbags decreased. Flight and border crossing restrictions applied during the COVID-19 health emergency prevented purchases of counterfeit products from China, Paraguay, and Bolivia, but were removed by November 2021.

INPI began accepting electronic filing of patent, trademark, and industrial designs applications in 2018. During 2020, the agency successfully transitioned to an all-electronic filing system.  Argentina continued to improve procedures for trademarks, with INPI reducing the time for a trademark opposition from an average of 3.5 years to one year.  On trademarks, the law provides for a fast-track option that reduces the time to register a trademark to four months.

Argentina formally created the Federal Committee to Fight Against Contraband, Falsification of Trademarks, and Designations, formalizing the work on trademark counterfeiting under the National Anti-Piracy Initiative launched in 2017.  In November 2020, Argentina and the United States held a virtual bilateral meeting under the Innovation and Creativity Forum for Economic Development, part of the U.S.-Argentina Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, to continue discussions and collaboration on IP topics of mutual interest.  The United States intends to monitor all the outstanding issues for progress and urges Argentina to continue its efforts to create a more attractive environment for investment and innovation.

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/ 

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) 2020 $389,064 2020 $383.10 www.worldbank.org/en/country

www.indec.gob.ar

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) 2020 N/A 2020 $8.730 billion BEA data available at https://apps.bea.gov/international/
factsheet/
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) 2020 N/A 2020 $627 million BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/
direct-investment-and-multinational-
enterprises-comprehensive-data
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP 2020 N/A 2020 1.0% UNCTAD data available at

https://unctad.org/topic/investment/
world-investment-report   

* Source for Host Country Data: Not available

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data (through 2020)
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward 84,319 100% Total Outward 40,985 100%
United States 20,015 23.74% Uruguay 19,715 48.10%
Spain  4,013 13.58% United States 5,242 12.79%
Netherlands 9,997 11.86% Paraguay 2,439 5.95%
Brazil 4,614 5.47% Mexico 1,323 3.23%
Chile 4,237 5.02% Brazil 649 1.58%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

 

Armenia

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

The government of Armenia officially welcomes foreign investment. The Ministry of Economy is the main government body responsible for the development of investment policy in Armenia. Armenia has achieved respectable rankings on some global indices measuring the country’s business climate. Armenia’s investment and trade policy is relatively open; foreign companies are entitled by law to the same treatment as Armenian companies. Armenia has strong human capital and a well-educated population, particularly in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, leading to significant investment in the high-tech and information technology sectors. Many international companies have established branches or subsidiaries in Armenia to take advantage of the country’s pool of qualified specialists and position within the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). However, many businesses have identified challenges with Armenia’s investment climate in terms of the country’s small market (with a population of less than three million), limited consumer buying power, relative geographic isolation due to closed borders with Turkey and Azerbaijan, and concerns related to weaknesses in the rule of law.

Following a peaceful revolution in 2018 fueled in large measure by popular frustration with endemic corruption, Armenia’s government launched a high-profile anti-corruption campaign. The fight against corruption needs to be institutionalized in the long term, especially in critical areas such as the judiciary, tax and customs operations, and health, education, military, and law enforcement sectors. Foreign investors remain concerned about the rule of law, equal treatment, and ethical conduct by government officials. U.S companies have reported that the investment climate is tainted by a failure to enforce intellectual property rights. There have been concerns regarding the lack of an independent and strong judiciary, which undermines the government’s assurances of equal treatment and transparency and reduces access to effective recourse in instances of investment or commercial disputes.  Representatives of U.S. entities have raised concerns about the quality of stakeholder consultation by the government with the private sector and government responsiveness in addressing concerns among the business community. 

Government officials have publicly responded to private sector concerns about perceptions of slow movement in the government bureaucracy as a function of needing to guard against corruption-related risks. The Armenian National Interests Fund and Investment Support Center (Enterprise Armenia) are responsible for attracting and facilitating foreign direct investment.

There are generally very few restrictions on foreign ownership or control of commercial enterprises. There are some restrictions on foreign ownership within the media and commercial aviation sectors. Local incorporation is required to obtain a license for the provision of auditing services.

The Armenian government does not maintain investment screening mechanisms in general, and for foreign direct investment, in particular. Government approval is required to take advantage of certain tax and customs privileges, and foreign investors are subject to the same requirements as domestic investors where regulatory approvals may be involved.

An Armenian ecological NGO recently published an article claiming that many mines in Armenia do not have corporate social responsibility obligations, which are required by law. However, it was unclear from the article if the mines in question were still actively operating.    

https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/latest-news/?&language=en

Link to Global Witness country-specific reports: https://www.globalwitness.org/en/all-countries-and-regions/

Link to conflicts listed on Environmental Justice Atlas, under “basic data,” select country: https://ejatlas.org/

In 2019, the U.N. Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published its first investment policy review for Armenia. The World Trade Organization (WTO) published a Trade Policy Review for Armenia in 2018.

Companies can register electronically here.  This single window service was launched in 2011 and allows individual entrepreneurs and companies to complete name reservation, business registration, and tax identification processes all at once.  The application can be completed in one day.  An electronic signature is needed in order to be able to register online.  Foreign citizens can obtain an e-signature and more detailed information from the e-signature portal.  In 2019, the government launched an e-regulations platform that provides a step-by-step guide for business and investment procedures.  The platform is available at https://armenia.eregulations.org/ . According to the latest estimates, it takes four days to complete the company registration process in Armenia.

The Armenian government does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Armenian law protects secured interests in property, both personal and real. Armenian law provides a basic framework for secured lending, collateral, and pledges and provides a mechanism to support modern lending practices and title registration. According to Armenia’s constitution, foreign citizens are prohibited from owning land, though they may take out long-term leases.

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/.

Armenia has a strong legislative and regulatory framework to protect intellectual property rights (IPR). Domestic legislation, including the 2006 Law on Copyright and Related Rights, provides for the protection of copyright with respect to literary, scientific, and artistic works (including computer programs and databases), patents and other rights of invention, industrial design, know-how, trade secrets, trademarks, and service marks. The Intellectual Property Agency (IPA) in the Ministry of Economy is responsible for granting patents and overseeing other IPR-related matters. The collective management organization ARMAUTHOR manages authors’ economic rights. Trademarks and patents require state registration by the IPA, but copyright does not. There is no special trade secret law in Armenia, but the protection of trade secrets is covered by Armenia’s Civil Code. Formal registration is straightforward, the database of registered IPR is public, and applications to register IPR are published online for two months for comment by third parties. Armenia’s legislation has been harmonized with the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). In 2005, Armenia created an IPR Enforcement Unit in the Organized Crime Department of the Armenian Police, which acts only based on complaints from right holders and does not exercise ex-officio powers.

Despite the existence of relevant legislation and executive government structures, the concept of IPR remains unrecognized by a large part of the local population. The onus for IPR complaints rests with the offended party. Law enforcement assert that the majority of cases are settled through out-of-court proceedings. While the Armenian government has made some progress on IPR issues, strengthening enforcement mechanisms remains necessary. UNCTAD reports that low awareness and poor monitoring of IPR violations harm the business climate.

A new Law on Copyright has been drafted and submitted for government’s approval. It includes provisions from new international agreements (Marrakesh and Beijing Treaties). A new Law on Patents and Law on Industrial Design entered into force in July 2021. The new Law on Patents strengthens the requirement for substantive examination before rights registration and introduces the concept of a short-term patent. The new Law on Industrial Design includes some procedural changes, including publishing applications for industrial designs and objects during the state registration process.

Armenia is not included in USTR’s Special 301 Report or Notorious Markets List. For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/.

Australia

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Australia is generally welcoming to foreign direct investment (FDI), with foreign investment widely considered to be an essential contributor to Australia’s economic growth. Other than certain required review and approval procedures for designated types of foreign investment described below, there are no laws that discriminate against foreign investors.

A number of investment promotion agencies operate in Australia. The Australian Trade Commission (often referred to as Austrade) is the Commonwealth Government’s national “gateway” agency to support investment into Australia. Austrade provides coordinated government assistance to promote, attract, and facilitate FDI, supports Australian companies to grow their business in international markets, and delivers advice to the Australian Government on its trade, tourism, international education and training, and investment policy agendas. Austrade operates through a number of international offices, with U.S. offices primarily focused on attracting foreign direct investment into Australia and promoting the Australian education sector in the United States. Austrade in the United States operates from offices in Boston, Chicago, Houston, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. In addition, state and territory investment promotion agencies also support international investment at the state level and in key sectors.

Within Australia, foreign and domestic private entities may establish and own business enterprises and may engage in all forms of remunerative activity in accordance with national legislative and regulatory practices. See Section 4: Legal Regime – Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment below for information on Australia’s investment screening mechanism for inbound foreign investment.

Other than the screening process described in Section 4, there are few limits or restrictions on foreign investment in Australia. Foreign purchases of agricultural land greater than AUD 15 million (USD 11 million) are subject to screening. This threshold applies to the cumulative value of agricultural land owned by the foreign investor, including the proposed purchase. However, the agricultural land screening threshold does not affect investments made under the Australia-United States Free Trade Agreement (AUSFTA). The current threshold is AUD 1.25 billion (USD 925 million) for U.S. non-government investors. Investments made by U.S. non-government investors are subject to inclusion on the foreign ownership register of agricultural land and to Australian Tax Office (ATO) information gathering activities on new foreign investment.

The Foreign Investment Review Board (FIRB), which advises Australia’s Treasurer, may impose conditions when approving foreign investments. These conditions can be diverse and may include: retention of a minimum proportion of Australian directors; certain requirements on business activities, such as the requirement not to divest certain assets; and certain taxation requirements. Such conditions are in keeping with Australia’s policy of ensuring foreign investments are in the national interest.

Australia has not conducted an investment policy review in the last three years through either the OECD or UNCTAD system. The WTO reviewed Australia’s trade policies and practices in 2019, and the final report can be found at: https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp496_e.htm .

The Australian Trade Commission compiles an annual “Why Australia Benchmark Report” that presents comparative data on investing in Australia in the areas of Growth, Innovation, Talent, Location, and Business. The report also compares Australia’s investment credentials with other countries and provides a general snapshot on Australia’s investment climate. The 2021 Benchmark Report can be found at: http://www.austrade.gov.au/International/Invest/Resources/Benchmark-Report .

Australia’s private sector frequently provides policy recommendations to the government, including as part of annual federal budget reviews and ad hoc policy reviews. In 2021 the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia published a report titled “The Opportunity is Now: Attracting U.S. Investors to Australia,” which provides a range of recommendations to government relating to Australia’s investment screening and general investment environment. The report is available via the following link: https://www.pwc.com.au/amcham-pwc-opportunity-is-now.html

Business registration in Australia is relatively straightforward and is facilitated through a number of government websites. The government’s business.gov.au website provides an online resource and is intended as a “whole-of-government” service providing essential information on planning, starting, and growing a business. Foreign entities intending to conduct business in Australia as a foreign company must be registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC). As Australia’s corporate, markets, and financial services regulator, ASIC’s website provides information and guides on starting and managing a business or company in the country.

In registering a business, individuals and entities are required to register as a company with ASIC, which then gives the company an Australian Company Number, registers the company, and issues a Certificate of Registration. According to the World Bank “Starting a Business” indicator, registering a business in Australia takes two days, and Australia ranks 7th globally on this indicator.

Australia generally looks positively towards outward investment as a way to grow its economy. There are no restrictions on investing abroad. Austrade, Export Finance Australia (EFA), and various other government agencies offer assistance to Australian businesses looking to invest abroad, and some sector-specific export and investment programs exist. The United States is the top destination, by far, for Australian investment overseas.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Strong legal frameworks protect property rights in Australia and operate to police corruption. Mortgages are commercially available, and foreigners are allowed to buy real property subject to certain registration and approval requirements. Property lending may be securitized, and Australia has one of the most highly developed securitization sectors in the world. Beyond the private sector property market, securitization products are being developed to assist local and state government financing. Australia has no legislation specifically relating to securitization, although issuers are governed by a range of other financial sector legislation and disclosure requirements.

Australia generally provides strong intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and enforcement through legislation that, among other things, criminalizes copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting. Australia is not listed in USTR’s Special 301 report or on USTR’s Notorious Markets report.

Enforcement of counterfeit goods is overseen by the Australian Department of Home Affairs through the Notice of Objection Scheme, which allows the Australian Border Force to seize goods suspected of being counterfeit. Penalties for sale or importation of counterfeit goods include fines and up to five years imprisonment.

IP Australia is the responsible agency for administering Australia’s responsibilities and treaties under the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Australia is a member of a range of international treaties developed through WIPO. Australia does not have specific legislation relating to trade secrets, however common law governs information protected through such means as confidentiality agreements or other means of illegally obtaining confidential or proprietary information.

Australia was an active participant in the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations and signed ACTA in October 2011. It has not yet ratified the agreement. ACTA would establish an international framework to assist Parties in their efforts to effectively combat the infringement of intellectual property rights, in particular the proliferation of counterfeiting and piracy.

Under the AUSFTA, Australia must notify the holder of a pharmaceutical patent of a request for marketing approval by a third party for a product claimed by that patent. U.S. and Australian pharmaceutical companies have raised concerns that unnecessary delays in this notification process restrict their options for action against third parties that would infringe their patents if granted marketing approval by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). In March 2020 the government recommended changes to the notification process whereby generic product owners must notify the patent holder of an intent to market a new product at the point they lodge an application for evaluation with the TGA. These changes have not been legislated at the time of writing.

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/ .

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) 2021 $1.33 trillion 2020 $1.50 trillion www.worldbank.org/en/country
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2020 $170 billion 2019 $158 billion BEA data available at
https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) 2020 $98 billion 2019 $112 billion BEA data available at
https://www.bea.gov/international/
direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises
-comprehensive-data
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP 2020 59% 2019 53% UNCTAD data available at
https://stats.unctad.org/handbook/
EconomicTrends/Fdi.html   

* Source for Host Country Data: Australian Bureau of Statistics

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 790,655 100% Total Outward 627,680 100%
USA 151,171 19% USA 127,563 20%
Japan 101,508 13% UK 103,597 17%
UK 95,093 12% New Zealand 55,338 9%
Netherlands 40,660 5% Canada 26,500 4%
Canada 35,554 4% Singapore 13,934 2%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Austria

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

The Austrian government welcomes foreign direct investment, particularly when such investments have the potential to create new jobs, support advanced technology fields, promote capital-intensive industries, and enhance links to research and development.

There are limited restrictions on foreign investment. American investors have not complained of discriminatory laws against foreign investors. Austria’s investment screening law, which requires government approval of transactions leading to 10 percent or more foreign ownership in sensitive sectors, has resulted in an increase in the number of investments screened, from less than three per year, to 50 completed screenings from July 2020 to July 2021, the first full year law has been in effect. The majority of these screenings (31 in total) were for U.S.-based investments. Please see the “Laws and Regulations on Foreign Investment” section below for further details on the law and its applications.

The corporate tax rate, a 25 percent flat tax, is above the EU average. The government is planning to reduce it to 24 percent in 2023 and 23 percent in 2024. U.S. citizens and investors have occasionally reported that it is difficult to establish and maintain banking services since the U.S.-Austria Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) Agreement went into force in 2014, as some Austrian banks have been reluctant to take on this reporting burden.

Potential investors should also be aware of Austria’s lengthy environmental impact assessments in their investment decision-making. Some sectors also suffer from heavy regulation that may affect certain investments. For example, the requirement that over 50 percent of energy providers must be publicly owned places a potential cap on investments in the energy sector. Strict liability and co-existence regulations in the agriculture sector restrict research and virtually outlaw the cultivation, marketing, or distribution of biotechnology crops. The mining and transportation sectors are also heavily regulated.

Austria’s national investment promotion organization, the Austrian Business Agency (ABA), is a useful first point of contact for foreign companies interested in establishing operations in Austria. It provides comprehensive information about Austria as a business location, identifies suitable sites for greenfield investments, and consults in setting up a company. ABA provides its services free of charge.

The Austrian Economic Chamber (WKO) and the American Chamber of Commerce in Austria (Amcham) are also good resources for foreign investors. Both conduct annual polls of their members to measure their satisfaction with the business climate, thus providing early warning to the government of problems identified by investors.

There is no principal limitation on establishing and owning a business in Austria. A local managing director must be appointed to any newly established enterprise. For non-EU citizens to establish and own a business, the Austrian Foreigner’s Law mandates a residence permit that includes the right to run a business. Many Austrian trades are regulated, and the right to run a business in regulated trade sectors is only granted when certain preconditions are met, such as certificates of competence, and recognition of foreign education.

There are limited restrictions on foreign ownership of private businesses. Austria’s investment screening law, requires an investment screening process to review potential foreign acquisitions of 25 percent or more of a company essential to the country’s infrastructure, lowering the threshold to 10 percent for sensitive sectors (see the “Laws and Regulations on Foreign Investment” section below for further details). In April 2019, the EU Regulation on establishing a framework for the screening of foreign direct investments into the Union entered into force. It creates a cooperation mechanism through which EU countries and the European Commission will exchange information and raise concerns related to specific investments which could potentially threaten the security of EU countries.

The American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) commented on Austria’s strengthened investment screening law following implementation in 2020, that the two-month screening process takes too long and places an undue administrative burden on companies. The AmCham advocated for expedited screenings for proposed investments with no clear threat to national security. Business interest groups, such as the Austrian Economic Chamber and the Federation of Austrian Industries also commented during the legislation’s draft and review process that the strengthened screening measures would impose an undue administrative burden on businesses, the definition of sectors requiring screening was too wide, and the updated legislation would reduce the attractiveness of Austria as an investment location.

Austria generally ranked in the top 30 countries in the world in the past World Bank “Ease of Doing Business” reports, but starting a business takes time. The average time to set up a company is 21 days, while the average time in OECD high income countries is 9.2 days.

To register a new company or open a subsidiary in Austria, a company must first be listed on the Austrian Companies Register at a local court. The next step is to seek confirmation of registration from the Austrian Economic Chamber (WKO) establishing that the company is really a new business. The investor must then notarize the “declaration of establishment,” deposit a minimum capital requirement with an Austrian bank, register with the tax office, register with the district trade authority, register employees for social security, and register with the municipality where the business will be located. Finally, membership in the WKO is mandatory for all businesses in Austria.

For sole proprietorships, it is possible under certain conditions to use an online registration process via government websites in German to either found or register a company: https://www.usp.gv.at/Portal.Node/usp/public/content/gruendung/egruendung/269403.html, or www.gisa.gv.at/online-gewerbeanmeldung. It is advisable to seek information from ABA or the WKO before applying to register a firm.

The website of the ABA contains further details and contact information and is intended to serve as a first point of contact for foreign investors in Austria: https://investinaustria.at/en/starting-business/.

The Austrian government encourages outward investment. Advantage Austria, the “Austrian Foreign Trade Service,” is a special section of the WKO that promotes Austrian exports and also supports Austrian companies establishing an overseas presence. Advantage Austria operates five offices in the United States (Washington D.C., New York, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and San Francisco). Overall, it has about 100 trade offices in 70 countries across the world, reflecting Austria’s strong export focus and the important role the WKO plays. (https://www.wko.at/service/aussenwirtschaft/aussenwirtschaftscenter.html#heading_aussenwirtschaftscenter) The Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs and the WKO run a joint program called “Go International,” providing services to Austrian companies that are considering investing for the first time in foreign countries. The program provides grants for market access costs and provides “soft subsidies,” such as counseling, legal advice, and marketing support.

5. Protection of Property Rights

The Austrian legal system protects secured interests in property. For any real estate agreement to be effective, owners must register with the land registry. Mortgages and liens must also be registered. As a rule, property for sale must be unencumbered. In case of rededication of land, approval of the land transfer commission or the office of the state governor is required. The land registry is a reliable system for recording interests in property, and access to the registry is public.

Non-EU/EEA citizens need authorization from administrative authorities of the respective Austrian province to acquire land. Provincial regulations vary, but in general there must be a public (economic, social, cultural) interest for the acquisition to be authorized. Often, the applicant must guarantee that he does not want to build a vacation home on the land in order to receive the required authorization.

Austria has a strong legal structure to protect intellectual property rights, including patent and trademark laws, a law protecting industrial designs and models, and a copyright law. Austria is a party to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and several international property conventions. Austria also participates in the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) program with the USPTO (started in 2014), which allows filing of streamlined applications for inventions determined to be patentable in other participating countries.

Austria’s Copyright Act conforms to EU directives on intellectual property rights. It grants authors exclusive rights to publish, distribute, copy, adapt, translate, and broadcast their work. The law also regulates copyrights of digital media (restrictions on private copies), works on the Internet, protection of computer programs, and related damage compensation. Infringement proceedings, however, can be time-consuming and costly. Austria implemented the EU Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market (2019/790) by adopting an amendment to the Austrian Copyright Act in December 2021, with the Austrian music and film industry lauding it as “modern, balanced, and taking into account the interests of the related business sector.”

Following a High Court decision from 2014, Austrian Internet providers must prevent access to illegal music and streaming platforms once they are made aware of a copyright violation. They must also block workaround websites from these platforms. In 2020 they registered 27,000 reports of illegal content.

Austria also has a law against trade in counterfeit articles in place (amended 2020, streamlining the customs authorities in charge of tracking violations). In 2020 (latest available report), Austrian customs authorities confiscated pirated goods worth EUR 24 million (USD 28.3 million), which was a 50 percent increase from the previous year.

Austria is not listed in USTR’s Special 301 or notorious markets reports, but its trade secrets regime has historically been a concern for some U.S. businesses. Austrian and U.S. companies have voiced specific concerns about both the scope of protection and the difficulty of adjudicating breaches. Following years of steady U.S. government advocacy, and because Austria was required to implement the 2016 EU Directive on Trade Secrets, the country improved its trade secrets regime in the Law Against Unfair Competition (entered into force in February 2019) to address these concerns. The most relevant change in the law is a requirement for safeguarding the confidentiality of trade secrets (and other business confidential information) in court procedures. The new law also defines injunctive relief and claims for damages in case of breach of trade secrets. The 2020 government program includes a plan to further toughen prosecution of violation of trade secrets that have an impact on Austria as a business location and to tackle industrial espionage, but no specific actions to implement the plan have been taken yet.

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/.

Azerbaijan

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

The Azerbaijani government actively seeks foreign direct investment.  Flows of foreign direct investment to Azerbaijan have risen steadily in recent years, primarily in the energy sector.  Foreign investment in the government’s priority sectors for economic diversification (agriculture, transportation, tourism, and ICT) has thus far been limited.

Foreign investments enjoy complete and unreserved legal protection under the Law on the Protection of Foreign Investment, the Law on Investment Activity, and guarantees contained within international agreements and treaties.  In accordance with these laws, Azerbaijan will treat foreign investors, including foreign partners in joint ventures, in a manner no less favorable than the treatment accorded to national investors.  Azerbaijan’s Law on the Protection of Foreign Investments protects foreign investors against nationalization and requisition, except under specific circumstances.  The Azerbaijani government has not shown any pattern of discriminating against U.S. persons or entities through illegal expropriation.

Azerbaijan’s primary body responsible for investment promotion is the Azerbaijan Export and Investment Promotion Agency (AzPromo).  AzPromo is a joint public-private initiative, established by the Ministry of Economy and Industry in 2003 to foster the country’s economic development and diversification by attracting foreign investment into the non-oil sector and stimulating non-oil exports.  A January 2018 decree called for new legislation, which has not yet been introduced, to ensure Azerbaijan conforms to international standards to protect foreign investor rights.  The Azerbaijani government meets regularly with the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) to solicit the input from the business community, particularly as part of AmCham’s biennial white paper process.  In June 2021, AmCham Azerbaijan organized a press conference for publicly presenting subsequent publication of its White Paper on observations and recommendations for improving Azerbaijan’s business climate. The 2021 White Paper covered issues in several fields, including taxation, customs procedures, finance, and information and communications technology. 

Foreigners are allowed to register business entities by opening a fully owned subsidiary, acquiring shares of an existing company, or by creating a joint venture with a local partner.  Foreign companies are also permitted to operate in Azerbaijan without creating a local legal entity by registering a representative or branch office with the tax authorities.

Foreigners are not permitted to own land in Azerbaijan but are permitted to lease land and own real estate.  Under Azerbaijani laws, the state must retain a controlling stake in companies operating in the mining, oil and gas, satellite communication, and military arms sectors, limiting foreign or domestic private ownership to a 49 percent share of companies in these industries.  Foreign ownership in the media sector is also strictly limited.  Furthermore, a special license to conduct business is required for foreign or domestic companies operating in telecommunications, sea and air transportation, insurance, and other regulated industries.  Azerbaijan does not screen inbound foreign investment, and U.S. investors are not specifically disadvantaged by any existing control mechanisms.

Azerbaijan has not conducted an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) investment policy review, a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) investment policy review, or a WTO Trade Policy Review.

Azerbaijani law requires all companies operating in the country to register with the tax authorities.  Without formal registration, a company may not maintain a bank account or clear goods through customs.  Registration takes approximately three days for commercial organizations.  Companies may e-register at http://taxes.gov.az.

Azerbaijan does not actively promote or incentivize outward investment, though Azerbaijani entities, particularly the State Oil Company of Azerbaijan (SOCAR) and the State Oil Fund of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ), have invested in various countries, including the United States.  SOFAZ investment is typically limited to real estate, precious metals, and low-yield government securities.  SOCAR has invested heavily in oil and gas infrastructure and petrochemicals processing in Turkey and Georgia, as well as gas pipeline networks in Greece, Albania, and Italy as part of the Southern Gas Corridor that transports Azerbaijani gas to European markets.  The government does not restrict domestic investors from investing overseas.

5. Protection of Property Rights

International organizations, foreign citizens, and foreign legal entities may not own land or be granted a purchase option on a lease, but they are permitted to lease land.  Following independence, the government implemented land reforms that divided state-owned farms into privately held small plots.  Due to poor recordkeeping and titling in rural areas, it is often difficult to determine definitively who owns a plot.  Amendments made to Azerbaijan’s Constitution in September 2016 enabled authorities to expropriate private property with compensation in instances where necessary for “social justice and efficient use of the land.”

Azerbaijan’s State Real Estate Registry Service at the Committee for Property Issues registers real estate.  April 2016 amendments to the Law on Immovable Property Register cut the time to register property from 20 to 10 working days. 

The legal structure covering intellectual property protections in Azerbaijan is relatively strong, but experts and businesspeople report the level of enforcement within the country is weak.  Piracy and blatant infringements on intellectual property rights (IPR) of both digital and physical goods are commonplace and stifle foreign investment and local entrepreneurship.  The Business Software Alliance estimated the prevalence of software piracy at 84 percent in 2015, including in government ministries.  U.S. companies routinely list weak IPR protections as a key concern.  With strong Embassy encouragement, the government is taking steps to increase the use of licensed software in government institutions, but progress thus far has been uneven.

IPR in Azerbaijan are regulated by the Law on Copyrights and Related Rights, the Law on Trademarks and Geographic Designations, the Law on Patents, the Law on the Topology of Integrated Microcircuits, the Law on Unfair Competition, and the Law on Securing Intellectual Property Rights and Combating Piracy.

Azerbaijan is a party to the Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Paris Convention for Protection of Industrial Property, and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works.  Azerbaijan is also a party to the Geneva Phonograms Convention and acceded to the two WIPO Internet treaties in 2005. 

Violation of IPR can result in civil, criminal, and administrative charges.  Azerbaijan tracks and reports on seizures of counterfeit goods but does not publish statistics on this effort.  Azerbaijan is not listed in USTR’s Special 301 Report, nor is it included in USTR’s 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/.

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) 2020 $42,607 2019 $48,048 .
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A 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

BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP  

No reliable data

2020 77% UNCTAD data available at

https://unctad.org/en/Pages/DIAE/World%20Investment%20Report/Country-Fact-Sheets.aspx  

* Source for Host Country Data:  Azerbaijan State Statistical Committee

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Thousands)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward $4,795,271 100% Total Outward $825,793 100%
United Kingdom $1,586,614 33% Turkey $280,542 34%
Turkey $700,186 14.6% United Kingdom $122,306 15%
United States $507,391 5 10.6% United States $65,967 8%
Malaysia $416,620 9% Georgia $64,111 8%
Cyprus $317,602 6.6% Malta $48,503 6%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

*Source: Central Bank of Azerbaijan

Bahrain

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

The GOB has a liberal approach to foreign investment and actively seeks to attract foreign investors and businesses. Increasing FDI is a top GOB priority. The GOB permits 100 percent foreign ownership of a business or branch office, without the need for a sponsor or local business partner. The GOB does not tax corporate income, personal income, wealth, capital gains, withholding or death/inheritance. There are no restrictions on repatriation of capital, profits or dividends, aside from income generated by companies in the oil and gas sector, where profits are taxable at the rate of 46 percent. Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), charged with promoting FDI in Bahrain, places particular emphasis on attracting FDI to the manufacturing, logistics, ICT, financial services, tourism, health, and education sectors. As a reflection of Bahrain’s openness to FDI, the EDB won the 2019 United Nations Top Investment Promotion Agency in the Middle East award for its role in attracting large-scale investments. U.S. investors have never alleged any legal or practical discrimination against them based on nationality.

In January 2021, the U.S. Commerce Secretary and the Bahraini Commerce Minister signed an MOU to establish the United States Trade Zone (USTZ) in Bahrain. Located near Bahrain’s critical port, aviation, and logistics facilities, the USTZ will enable U.S. companies to own and operate full turnkey industrial manufacturing, logistics, and distribution facilities in a unified commercial zone in order to access the wider GCC market. In February 2022, the Bahraini government allocated a small land plot and organized an expedited groundbreaking ceremony to formally open the USTZ to accommodate initial U.S. company interest. The Bahraini government must now tender out dredging and other construction services to reclaim land from the sea before building out the bulk of the USTZ’s infrastructure, which could take up to three years.

The GOB permits foreign and domestic private entities to establish and own business enterprises and engage in all forms of remunerative activity. The GOB imposes only minimal limits on foreign control, and the right of ownership and establishment of a business. The Ministry of Industry, Commerce, and Tourism (MoICT) maintains a small list of business activities that are restricted to Bahraini ownership, including press and publications, Islamic pilgrimage, clearance offices – such as expeditors and document clearance companies — and workforce agencies. The U.S.-Bahrain FTA outlines all activities in which the two countries restrict foreign ownership.

U.S citizens may own and operate companies in Bahrain, though many such individuals choose to integrate influential local partners into the ownership structure to facilitate quicker resolution of bureaucratic issues such as labor permits, issuance of foreign visas, and access to industrial zones. The most common challenges faced by U.S firms are those related to bureaucratic government processes, lack of market information, customs clearance, and preregistration requirements to bid on local tenders.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) conducted a Trade Policy Review of Bahrain in November 2021.

Bahrain ranked 43 out of 190 countries on the World Bank’s overall Ease of Doing Business Indicator in 2020.

The CBB’s regulatory sandbox allows local and international FinTech firms and digitally focused financial institutions to test innovative solutions in a regulated environment, allowing successful firms to obtain licensing upon successful product application.

The MoICT operates the online commercial registration portal “Sijilat” ( www.sijilat.bh ) to facilitate the commercial registration process. Through Sijilat, local and foreign business owners can obtain a business license and requisite approvals from relevant ministries. The business registration process normally takes two to three weeks, from start to finish, but can take longer if a business requires specialized approvals. In practice, some business owners retain an attorney or clearing agent to assist them through the commercial registration process.

In addition to obtaining primary approval to register a company, most business owners must also obtain licenses from the following entities to operate their businesses:

  1. MoICT
  2. Electricity and Water Authority
  3. The Municipality in which their business will be located
  4. Labour Market Regulatory Authority
  5. General Organization for Social Insurance
  6. National Bureau for Revenue (Mandatory if the business revenue exceeds BD 37,500)

To incentivize foreign investment in Bahrain’s targeted sectors and investment zones, the GOB provides industrial lands at reduced rental rates; customs duty exemptions for industrial and manufacturing projects, including imports of raw material, plant machinery equipment, and spare parts; and a five-year exemption of the “Bahrainization” recruitment restriction.

The GOB neither promotes nor incentivizes outward investment. The GOB does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights

The GOB enforces property rights protections for land and homeowners. Most land has a clear title. Ownership of land is highly concentrated among royal family members; certain areas may be closed to Bahraini investors as well as expatriates. Foreign firms and GCC nationals are permitted to purchase land in certain areas in Bahrain. Non-GCC nationals can acquire high-rise commercial and residential properties in designated areas. Foreign investors may purchase property to operate businesses in various fields of business including, but not limited to, manufacturing, tourism, banking and financial services, education and training, design, and advertising.

Foreign investors may own commercial property in the following geographic areas:

  1. Ahmed Al-Fateh (Juffair) district
  2. Hoora district
  3. Bu Ghazal district
  4. Seef district
  5. Northern Manama, including the Diplomatic Area, where the main international corporations are located

Foreign investors may own residential property in the following tourist areas:

  1. Durrat Al Bahrain
  2. Riffa Views
  3. Amwaj Islands
  4. Bahrain Financial Harbor
  5. Bahrain Bay
  6. Reef Island
  7. Diyyar Al Muharraq
  8. Some areas in Saar

Most of the new development projects in Bahrain permit expatriates and international investors to own houses, buildings, outlets, or freehold apartments.

Legally purchased property cannot revert to other owners, even if such property is unoccupied.

Under the U.S.-Bahrain FTA, the GOB committed to enforce intellectual property rights (IPR) protections. Bahrain signed the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, Patent Cooperation Treaty, Nice Agreement, Madrid Agreement, Budapest Treaty, Trademark Law Treaty, and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property in 1996. The GOB ratified revised legislation in 2006 to implement Bahrain’s obligations under the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The GOB has passed laws related to IPR to bring Bahrain’s local laws into compliance with its Paris Convention commitment, and in anticipation of acceding to the Singapore Treaty on the Law of Trademarks and the Locarno Agreement on establishing an international classification for industrial designs, and the International Patent Classification (IPC). Bahrain has acceded to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty. Bahrain ratified Law No. 31 on the Protection of New Plants Varieties in 2021 and is expected to accede to the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants by the end of 2022.

The GOB has made progress in reducing copyright piracy and there are few reports of significant violations of U.S. patents and trademarks in Bahrain. The GOB’s copyright enforcement campaign began in late 1997 and was based on inspections, closures, and improved public awareness. The campaign targeted the video, audio and software industries with impressive results. Commercially pirated video and audio markets have been mostly eliminated. However, audio, video, and software piracy by end-users remain problematic. There are no technology transfer requirements that force firms to share or divulge technology through compulsory licensing to a domestic partner, nor are firms required to undertake research and development activities in Bahrain.

In May 2016, the GOB issued the Implementing Regulations for the Trademark Law of the GCC, which had originally been approved by Law No. 6 of 2014. Law No. 6 provided a unified trademark regime for all six GCC countries.

Bahrain is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or the Notorious Markets List. Bahrain does not track or report on seizures of counterfeit goods. For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ . The Embassy’s webpage also offers a link to local lawyers, some of whom specialize in IPR and/or patent law: https://bh.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/local-resources-of-u-s-citizens/attorneys/

Resources for Intellectual Property Rights Holders:

Peter Mehravari
Patent Attorney
Intellectual Property Attaché for the Middle East & North Africa
U.S. Embassy Abu Dhabi | U.S. Department of Commerce U.S. Patent & Trademark Office
Tel: +965-2259-1455
Peter.Mehravari@trade.gov

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/ 

Bangladesh

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Bangladesh actively seeks foreign investment. Sectors with active investments from overseas include agribusiness, garment and textiles, leather and leather goods, light manufacturing, electronics, light engineering, energy and power, ICT, plastic, healthcare, medical equipment, pharmaceutical, ship building, and infrastructure. It offers a range of investment incentives under its industrial policy and export-oriented growth strategy with few formal distinctions between foreign and domestic private investors.

Foreign and domestic private entities can establish and own, operate, and dispose of interests in most types of business enterprises. Four sectors, however, are reserved for government investment:

  • Arms and ammunition and other defense equipment and machinery.
  • Forest plantation and mechanized extraction within the bounds of reserved forests.
  • Production of nuclear energy.
  • Security printing (items such as currency, visa foils, and tax stamps).

The Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) is the principal authority tasked with supervising and promoting private investment. The BIDA Act of 2016 approved the merger of the now-disbanded Board of Investment and the Privatization Committee. BIDA is directly supervised by the Prime Minister’s Office and the Executive Chairman of BIDA holds a rank equivalent to Senior Secretary, the highest rank within the civil service. BIDA performs the following functions:

  • Provides pre-investment counseling services.
  • Registers and approves private industrial projects.
  • Issues approval of branch/liaison/representative offices.
  • Issues work permits for foreign nationals.
  • Issues approval of royalty remittances, technical know-how, and technical assistance fees.
  • Facilitates import of capital machinery and raw materials.
  • Issues approvals of foreign loans and supplier credits.
  • Provides aftercare facilities.

BIDA’s website has aggregated information regarding Bangladesh investment policies, incentives, and ease of doing business indicators: http://bida.gov.bd/ 

In addition to BIDA, there are three other Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) responsible for promoting investments in their respective jurisdictions.

  • Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority (BEPZA) promotes investments in Export Processing Zones (EPZs). The first EPZ was established in the 1980s and there are currently eight EPZs in the country. Website:
  • Bangladesh Economic Zones Authority (BEZA) plans to establish approximately 100 Economic Zones (EZs) throughout the country over the next several years. Site selections for 97 EZs have been completed as of February 2022, of which 10 private EZs are already licensed and operational while development of several other public and private sector EZs are underway. While EPZs accommodate exporting companies only, EZs are open for both export- and domestic-oriented companies. Website:
  • Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park Authority (BHTPA) is responsible for attracting and facilitating investments in the high-tech parks Bangladesh is establishing across the country. Website:

Foreign and domestic private entities can establish and own, operate, and dispose of interests in most types of business enterprises. Bangladesh allows private investment in power generation and natural gas exploration, but efforts to allow full foreign participation in petroleum marketing and gas distribution have stalled. Regulations in the area of telecommunication infrastructure currently include provisions for 60 percent foreign ownership (70 percent for tower sharing). In addition to the four sectors reserved for government investment, there are 17 controlled sectors that require prior clearance/ permission from the respective line ministries/authorities. These are:

  • Fishing in the deep sea.
  • Bank/financial institutions in the private sector.
  • Insurance companies in the private sector.
  • Generation, supply, and distribution of power in the private sector.
  • Exploration, extraction, and supply of natural gas/oil.
  • Exploration, extraction, and supply of coal.
  • Exploration, extraction, and supply of other mineral resources.
  • Large-scale infrastructure projects (e.g., elevated expressway, monorail, economic zone, inland container depot/container freight station).
  • Crude oil refinery (recycling/refining of lube oil used as fuel).
  • Medium and large industries using natural gas/condensate and other minerals as raw material.
  • Telecommunications service (mobile/cellular and land phone).
  • Satellite channels.
  • Cargo/passenger aviation.
  • Sea-bound ship transport.
  • Seaports/deep seaports.
  • VOIP/IP telephone.
  • Industries using heavy minerals accumulated from sea beaches.

While discrimination against foreign investors is not widespread, the government frequently promotes local industries, and some discriminatory policies and regulations exist. For example, the government closely controls approvals for imported medicines that compete with domestically manufactured pharmaceutical products and it has required majority local ownership of new shipping and insurance companies, albeit with exemptions for existing foreign-owned firms. In practical terms, foreign investors frequently find it necessary to have a local partner even though this requirement may not be statutorily defined. In certain strategic sectors, the GOB has placed unofficial barriers on foreign companies’ ability to divest from the country.

BIDA is responsible for screening, reviewing, and approving investments in Bangladesh, except for investments in EPZs, EZs, and High-Tech Parks, which are supervised by BEPZA, BEZA, and BHTPA respectively. Both foreign and domestic companies are required to obtain approval from relevant ministries and agencies with regulatory oversight. In certain sectors (e.g., healthcare), foreign companies may be required to obtain a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the relevant ministry or agency stating the specific investment will not hinder local manufacturers and is in line with the guidelines of the ministry concerned. Since Bangladesh actively seeks foreign investments, instances where one of the Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs) declines investment proposals are rare.

In 2013 Bangladesh completed an investment policy review (IPR) with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD):  https://unctad.org/en/pages/PublicationWebflyer.aspx?publicationid=756  

A Trade Policy Review was done by the World Trade Organization in April 2019 and can be found at:  https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp485_e.htm   

In February 2018, the Bangladesh Parliament passed the “One Stop Service Bill 2018,” which aims to streamline business and investment registration processes. The four IPAs – BIDA, BEPZA, BEZA, and BHTPA – are mandated to provide one-stop services (OSS) to local and foreign investors under their respective jurisdictions. Expected streamlined services include company registration, taxpayer’s identification number (TIN) and value added tax (VAT) registration, work permit issuance, power and utilities connections, capital and profit repatriation, and environment clearance. In 2019 Bangladesh made reforms in three key areas: starting a business, getting electricity, and getting credit. BIDA offers 56 services under its OSS as of February 2022and has a plan to expand to 154 services covering 35 agencies. The GOB is also planning to integrate the services of all four investment promotion agencies under a single online platform. Progress on realizing a comprehensive OSS for businesses has been slowed by bureaucratic delays and a lack of interagency coordination.

Companies can register their businesses at the Office of the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms (RJSC): www.roc.gov.bd . However, the online business registration process, while improving, can at times be unclear and inconsistent. Additionally, BIDA facilitates company registration services as part of its OSS, which is available at:  https://bidaquickserv.org . BIDA also facilitates other services including office set-up approval, work permits for foreign employees, environmental clearance, outward remittance approval, and tax registration with National Board of Revenue. Other agencies with which a company must typically register are:

  • City Corporation – Trade License.
  • National Board of Revenue – Tax & VAT Registration.
  • Chief Inspector of Shops and Establishments – Employment of Workers Notification.

It takes approximately 20 days to start a business in the country according to the World Bank. The company registration process at the RJSC generally takes one or two days to complete. The process for trade licensing, tax registration, and VAT registration required as of 2021 seven days, one day, and one week respectively.

Outward foreign direct investment is generally restricted through the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act of 1947. As a result, the Bangladesh Bank plays a key role in limiting outbound investment. In September 2015, the government amended the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act of 1947 by adding a “conditional provision” that permits outbound investment for export-related enterprises. Private sector contacts note the few international investments approved by the Bangladesh Bank have been limited to large exporting companies with international experience. However, the government is considering an overseas investment guideline to allow outbound investment opportunities for local exporters and any company operating in the domestic market for 10 years. This will allow local companies and NGOs with outbound investments to enlist in foreign stock markets. However, Bangladesh’s total outbound investment in a single fiscal year would be capped at 5 percent of the central bank’s foreign exchange reserves for that fiscal year under the regulation being considered. Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) has been working to formulate a workable policy regarding this since 2016.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Although land, whether for purchase or lease, is often critical for investment and as security against loans, antiquated real property laws and poor record-keeping systems can complicate land and property transactions. Instruments take effect from the date of execution, not the date of registration, so a bona fide purchaser can often be uncertain of title. Land registration records have been historically prone to competing claims. Land disputes are common, and both U.S. companies and citizens have filed complaints about fraudulent land sales. For example, sellers fraudulently claiming ownership have transferred land to good faith purchasers while the actual owners were living outside of Bangladesh. In other instances, U.S.-Bangladeshi dual citizens have purchased land from legitimate owners only to have third parties make fraudulent claims of title to extort settlement compensation. A 2015 study by leading Bangladeshi think tank Policy Research Institute (PRI) revealed one in seven households in the country faced land disputes. Bangladesh ranks 184 among 190 countries for ease of registering property in the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 Report.

While property owners can obtain mortgages, parties generally avoid registering mortgages, liens, and encumbrances due to the high cost of stamp duties (i.e., transaction taxes based on property value) and other charges. There are also concerns that non-registered mortgages are often unenforceable.

Article 42 of the Bangladesh Constitution guarantees a right to property for all citizens, but property rights are often not protected due to a weak judicial system. The Transfer of Property Act of 1882  and the Registration Act of 1908  are the two main laws regulating transfer of property in Bangladesh but these laws have no specific provisions covering foreign and/or non-resident investors. Currently, foreigners and non-residents can incorporate a company with the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms. The company would be considered a local entity and would be able to buy land in its name.

Intellectual property rights (IPR) and rights enforcement is not a priority for the Government of Bangladesh and it has not invested heavily in IPR protection. As a result, counterfeit goods are readily available in Bangladesh, and a significant portion of business software is pirated. Several U.S. firms, including fast-moving consumer goods manufacturers, film studios, pharmaceutical products, apparel goods, and software firms, have reported systematic violations of their IPRs. Investors note police are willing to investigate counterfeit goods producers when informed but are unlikely to initiate independent investigations.

The Government of Bangladesh has recently taken steps to develop its IP system. In February 2021, the Cabinet gave its final approval of a draft Bangladesh Patents Bill and in-principal approval of a draft Bangladesh Industry-Designs Bill to replace the Patents and Designs Act 1911. The bills aim to make necessary updates to existing regulations and improve IPR in Bangladesh. However, as of March 2022 the potential impact of the bills remains uncertain because the government had yet to make the drafts public for stakeholder review. The bills require approval by the Parliament before going into effect. A National IP policy was developed in 2018 but has not been fully implemented. Public awareness of IPR is slowly growing through efforts from industry associations like the Intellectual Property Rights Association of Bangladesh, AMCHAM, Bangladesh, and REACT. Bangladesh is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and acceded to the Paris Convention on Intellectual Property in 1991.

Bangladesh has slowly made progress toward bringing its legislative framework into compliance with the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). The government enacted a Copyright Law in 2000 (amended in 2005), a Trademarks Act in 2009, and a Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act in 2013, in addition to the recent action on bills replacing the Patents and Designs Act.

Several government agencies are empowered to act against counterfeiting, including the National Board of Revenue (NBR), Customs, Mobile Courts, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), and the Bangladesh Police. However, enforcement agencies do not have appropriate resources nor are given the appropriate attention or priority to execute complaints filed by IP right holders. Accordingly, enforcement actions such as raids and seizures have become costly, time-consuming, and often nonproductive. In a positive development, in December 2019, the National Board of Revenue implemented the Intellectual Property Rights of Receipts of Imports: Rules of Implementation 2018. The rules intend to help stakeholders, though the bond requirement, for taking any enforcement action is a concern for the stakeholders. As per Rule 5 of the Intellectual Property Rights (Imported Goods) Enforcement Rules,2007, Industry is required to execute a specific bond of an amount equal to 110 percent of the value of the goods and furnish security in the form of a Bank Guarantee of an amount equal to 25 percent of the bond value within three days from date of confiscation of the goods. It is an issue as it is challenging to get all internal approval and get the bond executed within three days. Secondly, the bond is on hold until the case is disposed of, and thirdly it isn’t easy to do the valuation of a product.

The Department of National Consumer Rights Protection (DNCRP) is charged with tracking and reporting on counterfeit goods, and the NBR/Customs tracks counterfeit goods seizures at ports of entry. However, reports are not publicly available.

Resources for Intellectual Property Rights Holders:

John Cabeca
Intellectual Property Counselor for South Asia
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Foreign Commercial Service
email: john.cabeca@trade.gov
website: https://www.uspto.gov/ip-policy/ip-attache-program
tel: +91-11-2347-2000

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/ .

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) 2020-21 $354,242 2020 $323,057 www.worldbank.org/en/country
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical Source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2020-21 $4055 2020 $723 BEA data available at https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2020 $2 BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP 2020-21 5.71% 2020 6.01% UNCTAD data available at

https://unctad.org/topic/investment/world-investment-report

*Host Country Source:  Bangladesh Bank, Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data (December 2020)
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward $18,439 100% Total Outward $314 100%
The United States $3,823 20.7% United Kingdom $88 28.0%
The United Kingdom $2,140 11.6% China, P.R. Mainland $49 15.6%
The Netherlands $1,608 8.7% India $47 15.0%
Singapore $1,504 8.2% Nepal $47 15.0%
China, P.R. Mainland $986 5.3% United Arab Emirates $39 12.4%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Barbados

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

The Government of Barbados, through Invest Barbados, welcomes foreign direct investment with the stated goals of creating jobs, earning foreign exchange, transferring technology, enhancing skills, and contributing to economic growth. In 2021, the government announced plans to focus on encouraging foreign direct investment in renewable energy, manufacturing, technology, and biogenetic engineering.

According to Invest Barbados, Barbados encourages investment in the following key sectors: international financial services, information technology, and ship registration, as well as emerging sectors like financial technology, creative industries, agricultural processing, medical schools, medical tourism, and renewable energy. In the international financial services sector, the government maintains regulatory oversight via the Central Bank of Barbados to prevent money laundering and tax evasion.

Through Invest Barbados, the government facilitates domestic and foreign private investment. Invest Barbados’ mandate is to actively promote Barbados as a desirable investment location, to provide advice, and to assist prospective investors. Invest Barbados also provides customized support for investors to assist with the expansion and sustainability of the initial investment. It also serves as the primary liaison for existing investors. In 2021, the government announced plans to establish a Barbados Free Economic Zone to help attract foreign direct investment.

Investors interested in doing business in Barbados must register with the country’s Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office (CAIPO). In 2021, the Government of Barbados fully digitized the registration process and all other services provided by CAIPO.

Local laws do not place any limits on foreign control in Barbados. Nationals and non-nationals may establish and own private enterprises and private property in Barbados. These rights extend to the acquisition and disposition of interests in private enterprises.

No industries are closed to private enterprise, although the government reserves the right not to allow certain investments. Some activities, such as telecommunications, utilities, broadcasting, franchises, banking, and insurance require a government license. There are no quotas or other restrictions on foreign ownership of a local enterprise or participation in a joint venture.

In 2012, the government introduced a special entry permit for high net-worth individuals who wish to reside in Barbados while working remotely. Individuals must have one of the following to apply: a net worth of USD five million, property valued above USD two million, and skills of critical need to the development of the country. Applicants must generally be 60 years or older although special provisions can be made for applicants under 60 years of age. The program is administered by the Barbados Immigration Department.

In 2020, the government introduced the Barbados Welcome Stamp visa program, which allows eligible remote workers to apply for special residency status for up to one year. Under this program, the visa holder is exempt from local income taxes. The visa holder can also apply for an extension of the visa with the repayment of applicable fees. The program is administered through the Ministry of Tourism and International Transport.

Barbados has not conducted a trade policy review in the last three years. No civil society organization has provided a review of investment policy-related concerns in the past five years.

Invest Barbados is the main investment promotion agency that attracts and facilitates foreign investment. Invest Barbados offers guidance and direction to new and established investors seeking to pursue investment opportunities in Barbados. The process is transparent and considers the size of capital investment as well as the economic impact of a proposed project.

Invest Barbados offers a website that is useful for navigating applicable laws, rules, procedures, and registration requirements for foreign investors. This is available at  http://www.investbarbados.org . Invest Barbados’ iGuide website is an online guide that provides local and foreign investors with up-to-date information required to make certain investment decisions, including steps for setting up a business, opportunities for investment, labor and other business costs, and legal requirements, among other data. This is available at  https://www.theiguides.org/public-docs/guides/barbados . The Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office (CAIPO) maintains an online e-registry filing service for matters pertaining to the Corporate Registry. It is available to registered agents, who are usually attorneys. Information is available at  www.caipo.gov.bb .

In general, when starting a business, companies retain an attorney to prepare relevant incorporation documents. The business must register with CAIPO, the Barbados Revenue Authority, the Customs and Excise Department, and any relevant sector-specific licensing agencies.

The Government of Barbados continues to facilitate programs and partnerships to assist entrepreneurs who are women and/or people with disabilities. The Government of Barbados remains committed to working with civil society and other organizations to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

While no incentives are offered, Barbados generally encourages local companies to invest in other countries, particularly within the Caribbean region. The government actively encourages local companies in Barbados to take advantage of export opportunities related to the country’s membership in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME). The Barbados Investment Development Corporation provides market development support for domestic companies seeking to enhance their export potential.

5. Protection of Property Rights

There are no restrictions on foreign ownership of property in Barbados. Foreign investors and locals are treated equally regarding property taxes. Civil law protects physical property and mortgage claims. The CBB must verify real property purchases for non-residents. If a non-resident uses foreign funds and pays for the property in Barbados, the CBB will normally endorse the transaction. The sale of property is subject to a 2.5 percent property transfer tax in addition to a one percent stamp duty. Brokerage and legal fees are not included in these levies. Buyers should seek the advice of a local attorney when purchasing property.

Commercial, industrial, hotel, and villa properties are subject to a 0.95 percent land tax on the improved value of the property. Holders of a certificate from the Barbados Tourism Authority enjoy rebates of 50 percent for hotels and 25 percent from villas. The Commissioner of Land Tax charges an annual fee based on the assessed property value on residential property as follows:

  • 0% on the first $75,000 (150,000 Barbados dollars)
  • 0% on the first $75,000 (150,000 Barbados dollars)
  • 0.1% on amounts between $75,001 and $225,000 (150,001 and 550,000 Barbados dollars)
  • 0.7% on amounts between $225,001 and $425,000 (550,001 and 850,000 Barbados dollars)
  • 1.0% on amounts greater than $425,000 (850,000 Barbados dollars)
  • 0.8% on vacant land under 4,000 square feet
  • 1.0% on all other vacant land

The government has included an additional procedure that has increased the time to record the conveyance at the Land Registry and pay transfer fees and stamp duties. This has made transferring property more onerous. The Land Registry has digitized records dating back to 1952 and plans to further digitize deeds dating back to 1640. A landowner may lose his or her title to land if a trespasser or squatter takes possession for a period of ten years.

Barbados has a legislative framework governing intellectual property rights (IPR), though enforcement needs improvement. Barbados is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and is party to the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, and the Nice Agreement Concerning the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks. The Government of Barbados has enacted IPR legislation on topics including patents, copyrights, trademarks, industrial designs, integrated circuits topography, plant breeders’ rights, geographical indications, and protection against unfair competition. Barbados’ Trademark and Industrial Designs Act meets international standards.

Barbados remains on the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report Watch List in 2021. Barbados acceded to the WIPO Internet Treaties in 2019 and has convened a public-private Advisory Committee on Intellectual Property Rights to redraft its Copyright Act. Once passed by Parliament, this will enable Barbados to implement its WIPO Internet Treaties obligations. CAIPO will be reorganized into two separate entities, one for business registration and one for IPR registration. The former CAIPO director was appointed as Master of the High Court in 2020, which deepened the court’s IPR expertise. These measures, along with the updates and upgrades to CAIPO’s database in 2021, were intended to strengthen IPR enforcement.

Currently, Barbados’ judicial system is unable to provide timely and effective relief on IPR violations due to a serious case backlog across all types of civil and criminal matters. Ongoing cases include the unauthorized transmission of U.S. broadcasts and cable programming by local cable operators, including state-owned broadcasters, without adequate compensation to U.S. right holders, and the refusal of Barbadian television and radio broadcasters and cable and satellite operators to pay for public performances of music.

Article 66 of the Revised Treaty of Chaguaramas establishing the CSME commits all 15 members to implement stronger intellectual property rights protection and enforcement. The CARIFORUM-EU EPA contains the most detailed obligations regarding intellectual property in any trade agreement to which Barbados is a party. The EPA provides for protection and enforcement of IPR. Article 139 of the EPA requires parties to “ensure an adequate and effective implementation of the international treaties dealing with intellectual property to which they are parties and of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property.”

It is the responsibility of the importer to pay for and destroy counterfeit goods. Failure to observe certain standards regarding the importation of goods may result in a recommendation to the Comptroller of Barbados’ Custom and Excises Department to have the goods destroyed. If the goods fall under the Ministry of Health’s jurisdiction, they are destroyed under that ministry’s guidance. If the goods are prohibited and do not pertain to the Ministry of Health, the Customs and Excise Department will destroy them as appropriate. Information on the prevalence of counterfeit goods in the local market is not readily available, as there is no tracking method in place to collect data. Barbados is not listed in USTR’s 2022 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy.

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 .

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2
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) 2020 $4,690 2020 $4,418 www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2019 $45,400 BEA data available at https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2020 $57,053 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 2020 186% UNCTAD data available at

https://unctad.org/topic/investment/
world-investment-report
   

* Source for Host Country Data: Central Bank of Barbados (CBB)  http://www.centralbank.org.bb  

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Data not available.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment
Data not available.

Belarus

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Attracting FDI is one of the government’s stated foreign policy priorities. Net inflows of FDI have been included in the list of government performance targets since December 2015.  The GOB plans to attract a total of $5.5 billion net FDI in 2021-2025, largely through the China-Belarus “Great Stone” industrial park and Belarus’ six free economic zones.

The imposition of wide-ranging sanctions by the United States and many likeminded countries due to Belarus’ facilitation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has made Belarus a less attractive destination for FDI. So, too, have the numerous restrictions and fees placed on investments from “unfriendly countries” by the GOB. An official decree signed by Lukashenka on March 14 provides for special fees for any early termination of contracts; prevents business partners from “unfriendly” countries from selling their shares in Belarusian joint stocks; increases taxation on any income of foreign partners, including dividends, royalties, and interests; and orders all debts to foreign partners be paid in Belarusian rubles.

Belarus does not have any specific requirements for foreigners wishing to establish a business. On paper, investors, whether Belarusian or foreign, receive legal protections and have the same right to conduct business operations in Belarus by incorporating legal entities.  However, selective application of existing laws and practices often discriminate against the private sector, including foreign investors, regardless of the country of their origin.

Belarus’ investment promotion agency is the National Agency of Investments and Privatization (NAIP). The NAIP is tasked with representing the interests of Belarus as it seeks to attract FDI. The NAIP is a one-stop shop with services available to all investors, including: organizing fact-finding missions to Belarus; assisting with visa formalities; providing information on investment opportunities, special regimes and benefits, and procedures necessary for making investment decisions; selecting investment projects; and providing solutions and post-project support.  NAIP has a 24/7 support hotline service via a Telegram channel and email account to help foreign investors address their problems and concerns in Belarus.

To maintain an ongoing dialogue with investors, Belarus has established the Foreign Investment Advisory Council (FIAC), chaired by the Prime Minister. FIAC activities include developing proposals to improve investment legislation; participating in examining corresponding regulatory and legal acts; and approaching government agencies for the purpose of adopting, repealing or modifying the regulatory and legal acts that restrict the rights of investors. FIAC includes the heads of government agencies and other state organizations subordinate to the GOB, as well as heads of international organizations and foreign companies and corporations. According to representatives of major foreign investors in Belarus, there were no reports of FIAC taking any meaningful effort to promote the FDI agenda in 2021 or 2022.

While the GOB claims foreign and domestic private entities have the right to establish and own business enterprises and engage in all forms of remunerative activity, in reality the GOB imposes limits on a case-by-case basis. The limits on foreign equity participation in Belarus in terms of the size of individual investments are above average for the 20 countries covered by the World Bank Group’s Investing Across Borders indicators for Eastern Europe and the Central Asia region. In particular, Belarus limits foreign equity ownership in service industries. Sectors such as fixed-line telecommunications services, electricity generation, transmission and distribution, and railway freight transportation are closed to foreign equity ownership. In addition, a comparatively large number of sectors are dominated by government monopolies, including, but not limited to, those mentioned above. These monopolies make it difficult for foreign companies to invest in Belarus. Finally, the government may restrict investments in the interests of national security (including environmental protection, historical, and cultural values), public order, morality protection, and public health, as well as rights and freedoms of people.

While Belarus has no formal national security investment screening mechanism, it retains significant elements of a Soviet-style command economy and screens investments through an informal and hierarchical process that escalates through the bureaucracy depending on the size of the investment or the size of incentives an investor seeks from the GOB. Lukashenka and his administration review and approve even multi-million-dollar foreign investments.

Additionally, Belarus’ Ministry of Antimonopoly Regulation and Trade is responsible for reviewing transactions for competition-related concerns (whether domestic or international).

The UN Conference on Trade and Development reviewed Belarus’ investment policy in 2009 and made recommendations regarding the improvement of its investment climate:  http://unctad.org/en/Docs/diaepcb200910_en.pdf   

Individuals and legal persons can apply for business registration via the web portal of the Single State Register (  http://egr.gov.by/egrn/index.jsp?language=en  ) – a resource that includes all relevant information on establishing a business and provides a single window for securing all necessary clearances and permissions from municipal authorities, tax and social security administrations, etc. Business registration normally takes no more than one day.

Belarus has a regime allowing for a simplified taxation system for all foreign-owned businesses.  Under the 2010 law on supporting small and medium-sized entrepreneurship Belarus defines enterprises as follows: Micro enterprises – fewer than 15 employees; Small enterprises – from 16 to 100 employees; Medium-sized enterprises – from 101 to 250 employees.

The government does not promote or incentivize outward investment, nor does it restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.  According to government statistics, Belarusian businesses’ outward investments in January-June 2021 totaled USD 2.78 billion, of which FDI was 94 percent. The GOB classified investment data following this period and no further investment information is publicly available.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Property rights are enforced by the Civil Code. Mortgages and liens are available, and the property registry system is reliable. Investors and/or duly established commercial organizations with the participation of a foreign investor (investors) have the right to rent plots of land for up to 99 years. According to the Belarusian Land Code, foreign legal persons and individuals are denied land ownership except for land in the Great Stone Industrial Park, which foreign persons can acquire. The 2020 World Bank Doing Business Report ranked Belarus 14th on ease of property registration (  http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/data/exploreeconomies/belarus  ).

Belarus has made progress in improving legislation to protect intellectual property rights (IPR) and prosecute violators. However, challenges for effective enforcement include a lack of sufficiently qualified officers. According to information provided by Belarus’ National Center of Intellectual Property, Belarus adopted a law upon Belarus’ accession to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Marrakesh Treaty on facilitating access for the blind and visually impaired persons or people with other disabilities to printed information. Belarus received the status of a full member under this agreement in October 2020. In 2018, the government amended Article 4.5 of the Administrative Code to allow greater prosecution of industrial property and IPR violations. Authorities reported there was one criminal and 89 administrative cases pursued in 2020. No criminal and 178 administrative cases were prosecuted in 2021. In 2020 and in 2021 the National Center of Intellectual Property registered no complaints from U.S. companies or their representatives regarding violations of intellectual property rights.

In July 2021, the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs of July 2, 1999 (the Geneva Act) came into effect in Belarus and the country became the 66th member state to accede to the Geneva Act and became the 75th member of the Hague Union. In November 2021, Belarus adopted an IPR strategy through 2030 defining significant aspects of the country’s IPR system that need to be strengthened. In December 2021, Belarus acceded to the Industrial Design Protection Protocol to the September 9, 1994 Eurasian Patent Convention. The accession is set to come into effect in April 2022.

Belarus was removed from USTR’s Special 301 Report in 2016 and is not included in the Notorious Markets List.

Belarus is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and party to the Bern Convention, the Paris Convention, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the WIPO Copyright Treaty, and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, among others. 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/ .

Belgium

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Belgium maintains an open economy, and its prosperity is highly dependent on international trade.  Since WWII, making Belgium attractive to foreign investors has been the cornerstone of successive Belgian governments’ foreign and commercial policy.  Competence over policies that weigh on the attractiveness of Belgium as a destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) lie predominantly with the federal government, which is responsible for developing domestic competition policy, wage setting policies, labor law, and most of the energy and fiscal policies.  Attracting FDI, however, is the responsibility of Belgium’s three regional governments in Flanders, Wallonia, and the Brussels-Capital Region.  Flanders Investment and Trade (FIT), Wallonia Foreign Trade and Investment Agency (AWEX) and Brussels Invest and Export (BIE) are the three investment promotion agencies responsible for attracting FDI to Belgium.  One of their most visible activities is organizing the Royal Trade Missions, which are led by Princess Astrid (the king’s sister), as well as the economic part of the state visits by King Philippe.  In June 2022, Princess Astrid plans to lead a Royal Trade Mission to Atlanta, New York City, and Boston with more than 500 participants. Neither the federal nor the regional governments currently maintain a formal dialogue with investors.

There are no laws in place that discriminate against foreign investors.  [While U.S. companies continue to play key and long-standing roles in the development of the Belgian economy, a major U.S.-based multinational firm operating in the chemical cluster near the Port of Antwerp has raised concerns that Flemish government officials have unfairly regulated the company and subjected it to strict limitations not applied to other companies operating in the same sector and space.  The firm and the Flemish government remain in regular contact to seek a fair and equitable solution; however, the perceived lack of regulatory certainty could lead to a reduction of industry investment and operations in Belgium if unresolved.

There are currently no limits on foreign ownership or control in Belgium, and there are no distinctions between Belgian and foreign companies when establishing or owning a business or setting up a remunerative activity.

Belgian authorities are, however, developing a national security-based investment screening law that will likely establish certain restrictions based on national security concerns.  The draft law is not expected to be finalized and delivered to Parliament for vote before the end of 2022.

In July 2019 the OECD published an in-depth productivity review of Belgium: https://www.oecd.org/belgium/in-depth-productivity-review-of-belgium-88aefcd5-en.htm .  Belgium was included in the WTO Trade Policy Review of the European Union which took place February 18-20, 2020: https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp495_e.htm . In June 2021, Belgium was subject of an IMF Article IV mission: https://www.imf.org/en/News/Articles/2021/06/29/mcs062921-belgium-staff-concluding-statement-of-the-2021-article-iv-mission 

To set up a business in Belgium, one must:

1. Deposit at least 20% of the initial capital with a Belgian credit institution and obtain a standard certification confirming that the amount is held in a blocked capital account;

2. Deposit a financial plan with a notary, and sign the deed of incorporation and the by-laws in the presence of a notary, who authenticates the documents and registers the deed of incorporation. The authentication act must be drawn up in French, Dutch, or German (Belgium’s three official languages); and

3. Register with one of the Registers of legal entities, VAT and social security at a centralized company docket and obtain a company number.

In most cases, the business registration process can be completed within one week. https://www.business.belgium.be/en/setting_up_your_business 

Based on the number of employees, the projected annual turnover, and the shareholder class, a company will qualify as a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) according to the terms of the Promotion of Independent Enterprise Act of February 10, 1998. For a small or medium-sized enterprise, registration is possible once a certificate of competence has been obtained. The person in charge of the daily management of the company must prove his or her knowledge of business management with diplomas and/or practical experience.

A company is expected to allow trade union delegations when employing 20 or more full-time equivalents (FTEs).

The three Belgian regions each have their own investment promotion agency, whose services are available to all foreign investors.

Belgium does not actively promote outward investment.  There are no restrictions for domestic investors to invest in certain countries, other than those that fall under UN or EU sanction regimes.  In June 2022, the Belgian government plans to lead a Royal Trade Mission to Atlanta, New York City, and Boston with more than 500 participants. The mission will promote both Belgian investment into the United States and encourage foreign direct investment into Belgium.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Property rights in Belgium are well protected by law, and the courts are independent and considered effective in enforcing property rights. Mortgages and liens exist through a reliable recording system operated by the Belgian notaries. Industrial spaces that are unused and neglected can be subject to levies. Owners of building plots are not required to build on them within a certain period. However, exceptions exist for plots that retain construction obligations. On those plots, owners are obliged to build within a certain timeframe.

Belgium generally meets very high standards for the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR). The EU has issued a number of directives to promote the protection and enforcement of IPR, which EU Member States are required to implement.  National laws that do not conflict with those of the EU also apply.  Belgium is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and so is party to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).  Belgium is also a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and party to many of its treaties, including the Berne Convention, the Paris Convention, the WIPO Copyright Treaty, and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.

IPR is administered by the Belgian Office of Intellectual Property (OPRI), which is part of the Directorate-General for Economic Regulation  in the Ministry for Economic Affairs: https://economie.fgov.be/en/themes/intellectual-property/institutions-and-actors/belgian-office-intellectual .  This office manages and provides Belgian IPR titles, oversees public awareness campaigns, drafts legislation, and advises Belgian authorities with regard to national and international issues.  The Belgian Ministry of Justice is responsible for enforcement of IPR.  Belgium experiences a rate of commercial and digital infringement – particularly internet music piracy and illegal copying of software – similar to most EU Member States.

Belgium is not included on USTR’s Special 301 Report.

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see the WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ .

Belize

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Belize’s government encourages FDI to relieve fiscal pressure and transform the economy.  In November 2021, the Government of Belize hosted its first national Investment Summit under the theme “Belize: Open for Business.” The Government of Belize also conducted trade missions to the United States to promote itself as an investment destination and credible export market. In April 2022, senior Belizean government representatives hosted a diaspora tour in the United States to encourage Belizean-Americans to invest in Belize. The estimated Belize diaspora is 300,000 persons. While the government is interested in attracting FDI, certain bureaucratic and regulatory requirements impede investment and growth.

Public debt declined from 133 percent of GDP in 2020 to 108 percent in 2021. This was in large part due to the Blue Bond Agreement, a successful marine protection and conservation-driven financial transaction. Under this deal, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) lent funds to Belize to buy back its Superbond (totaling US $553 million or 30 percent of GDP) at a discounted price of 55 cents per dollar. In exchange, Belize committed to increase expenditure on marine conservation until 2041 and to expand its Biodiversity Protection Zones to 30 percent by 2026.

There are no laws that explicitly discriminate against foreign investors.  In practice, however, investors complain that lack of transparency, land insecurity, bureaucracy, delays, and corruption are factors that make it difficult to do business in Belize. U.S. firms have identified challenges in participating and competing in areas related to the bidding, procurement, and dispute settlement processes, in particular relating to State Owned Enterprises (SOEs).

The Belize Trade and Investment Development Service (BELTRAIDE; www.belizeinvest.org.bz ) is the investment and export promotion agency.  It promotes FDI through various incentive packages and identified priority sectors.  Export-orientated businesses operating in less developed areas also receive preferential treatment. The Economic Development Council, https://edc.gov.bz , is a public-private sector advisory body established to advance public sector reforms, to promote private sector development and to inform policies for growth and development.

Belize acknowledges the right for foreign and domestic private entities to establish and own business enterprises and engage in remunerative activities.  Foreign and domestic entities must first register their business before engaging in business. They must also register for the appropriate taxes, including business tax and general sales tax, as well as obtain a social security number and trade license.

Generally, Belize has no restrictions on foreign ownership and control of companies; however, foreign investments must be registered with the Central Bank of Belize and adhere to the Exchange Control Act and related regulations.  To register a business name, foreigners must apply with a Belizean partner or someone with a permanent residence. Requirements differ based on the applicant’s residency status and whether the individual is seeking to establish a local or foreign currency account.

Foreign investments must be registered and obtain an “Approved Status” from the Central Bank to facilitate inflows and outflows of foreign currency and repatriate funds gained from profits, dividends, loan payments, and interest.  The Exchange Control Regulation Act was amended in 2020 to relax the requirement for non-residents to obtain prior permission from the Central Bank to conduct transaction in securities and real estate. The amendment now requires for prior written notice to the Central Bank with full particulars of the transaction.

Some investment incentives show preference to Belizean-owned companies.  For example, to qualify for a tour operator license, a business must be majority-owned by Belizeans or permanent residents of Belize ( http://www.belizetourismboard.org ).  This qualification is negotiable, particularly where a tour operation would expand into a new sector of the market and does not result in competition with local operators.  The government does not impose any intellectual property transfer requirements.

Foreign investors seeking to avail themselves of various incentives programs are required to adhere to screening guidelines outlined in the specific program. These may include updating their shareholders registry, obtaining requisite Central Bank of Belize approvals, and fulfilling performance requirements. Foreign investors undertaking large capital investments are also advised to adhere to environmental laws and regulations.  The government requires developers to prepare an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for certain projects. When purchasing land or planning to develop in or near an ecologically sensitive zone, the government recommends the EIA fully address any measures by the investor to mitigate environmental risks.  The Department of Environment website, http://www.doe.gov.bz  has more information on the Environmental Protection Act and other regulations, applications, and guidelines.

In the past three years, there has been no investment policy review of Belize by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) or the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).  Belize concluded its third Trade Policy Review in the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2017.

In the past five years, civil society organizations concerned with investment policy lobbied directly with government. As an example, the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Belize Network of NGOs, and the opposition were represented on the National Oversight Committee during the height of the COVID- 19 pandemic.

BELTRAIDE ( http://www.belizeinvest.org.bz  ), a statutory body of the Government of Belize, operates as the country’s investment and export promotion agency.  Its investment facilitation services are open to all investors, foreign and domestic.  While there are support measures to advance greater inclusion of women and minorities in entrepreneurial initiatives and training, the business facilitation measures do not generally distinguish by gender or economic status.

The GoB made progress on the ease of doing business through trade license, stamp duty, exchange control, and land reforms to streamline business applications and related processes. Myriad government services are going digital. Business and personal income tax offices amalgamated into the Belize Tax Service which launched an online tax payment system. Belize’s Financial Inclusion Strategy also expands access of financial services to underserved populations. Businesses must register with the tax department and local government to pay business and general sales tax and obtain a trade license.  An employer should also register employees for social security. Permission from the Central Bank is required for all overseas investments between residents and non-residents

The Belize Companies and Corporate Affairs Registry (tel: +501 822 0421; email: info@belizecompaniesregistry.gov.bz ; website: https://belizecompaniesregistry.gov.bz ) is responsible for the registration process of all local businesses and companies.

Belize does not promote or incentivize outward investments.  The government does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.  However, the Central Bank places currency controls on investment abroad, with Central Bank approval required prior to foreign currency outflows.

5. Protection of Property Rights

The preamble of the Belize Constitution preserves the right of the individual to own private property to operate private businesses.  Common law, Belize legislation, and case law all reinforce property rights and interests.  Private entities, whether foreign or local, have the right to freely establish, acquire, and dispose of interests in property and business enterprises.  Generally, the country has no restrictions on foreign ownership and control; however, foreign investments in Belize must be registered at the Central Bank of Belize and adhere to the Exchange Control Act and related regulations.

Mortgages and liens exist, and related real estate is recorded with the registry of the Lands and Survey Department.  The Lands and Survey Department has a history of corruption, and there have been charges of land fraud, abuses, and cronyism leveled against the Department during each administration.  As part of its land reform policy, the Lands Department continues to engage with the public through mobile clinics, where Lands Department personnel visit communities across to country to address land concerns, including issuing freehold titles. Investors are nonetheless advised to perform due diligence prior to purchasing property.

Foreign and/or non-resident investors are not allowed to acquire national lease property but may acquire titled privately owned property.  The Central Bank regulates real estate transactions involving non-residents for exchange control purposes.  Additionally, the rate of stamp duty chargeable on land transfers involving foreign persons or a foreign controlled company is 8 percent for land transfers valued in excess of US $10,000, as opposed to 5 percent on transfers involving Belizeans and CARICOM nationals.

There are three different types of titles to freehold property in Belize: Deed of Conveyance, Transfer of Certificate of Title, and Land Certificate.  Leasehold property from the government is available to Belizeans who can then apply for conversion to a fee simple title. Squatters’ rights exist but are only enforceable by order of the Supreme Court after the resident has proven uninterrupted possession for at least 30 years on national lands or at least 12 years on registered lands.

Belize is a member of the WTO and has implemented the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS).  Generally, Intellectual Property (IP) rights must be registered and enforced in Belize.  IP protections are enforceable through civil proceedings initiated by the IP holder.  The Belize Intellectual Property Office (BELIPO) (http://belipo.bz) was established to administer IP laws and functions as the country’s national intellectual property registry.  Its mandate covers the protection of copyrights, industrial designs, patents, trademarks, new plant varieties, and topographies of integrated circuits.

In practice, however, there is no active enforcement of IP protections, though there is active pursuit and prosecution of contraband.  Bootleg CDs and DVDs are widespread and are marketed throughout the country and are especially prevalent in the Free Zones. During the past year, Belize enacted the Patents (Amendment) Act, 2021 and the Trademarks (Amendment) Act, 2021. Both amendments allow the Registrar of Intellectual Property to delegate certain function to the Deputy Registrar. There has been no report on seizures of counterfeit goods and no prosecution of IPR violations in the last year. Belize is not listed in the 2021 USTR’s Special 301 report nor the 2021 notorious market report.

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/. 

Benin

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

The Beninese government encourages foreign investment, which it views as critical for economic development and successful implementation of the $20.6 billion PAG. In 2021 alone, the GOB raised €1.5 billion on the international Eurobond market. APIEX is dedicated to increasing Beninese exports and foreign direct investment and reducing administrative barriers to doing business. APIEX serves as the single investment promotion center and conduit of information between foreign investors and the Beninese government. It is the technical body responsible for reviewing applications for approval under the Investment Code and the administrative authority for SEZs. The agency has significantly reduced processing times for registering new companies (from 15 days to one day) and issuing construction permits (from 90 to 30 days). In practice, APIEX faces capacity constraints, processing times can be longer than stated, and its website is often out of date and lacks information on the latest regulations and laws. The Investment Code, amended in 2020, establishes conditions, advantages, and rules applicable to domestic and foreign direct investment. Additional information on business startup is available at https://monentreprise.bj/  .

Beninese law guarantees the right to own and transfer private property. The court system enforces contracts, but the judicial process is inefficient and suffers from corruption. Enforcement of rulings is problematic. Most firms entering the market work with an established local partner and retain a competent Beninese attorney.

In 2015, the Beninese government conducted the most recent joint investment policy review (IPR), with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). Further to a 2016 fact-finding mission, the UNCTAD Report on the Implementation of the IPR of Benin assesses progress in implementing the original recommendations of the IPR and highlights policy issues to be addressed in the investment climate. The full report may be found at: https://investmentpolicy.unctad.org/investment-policy-review/23/benin 

In an effort to facilitate business travel and tourism, Benin implements a visa-free system for African nationals and an online e-visa system for other foreign nationals. The country is working to open four new trade offices abroad to enhance Benin’s international business opportunities. One is already underway in Shenzhen, China

Benin’s 2017 Property Code made property registration simpler and less expensive in order to boost the real estate market, improve access to credit, and reduce corruption in the registration process. The measures apply to real personal property, estate and mortgage taxes, and property purchase receipts. In order to register property, individuals and businesses must present a taxpayer identification number (registration for which is free). Land registration and property purchase certifications are free, but there is a fee for obtaining a property title. The GOB has announced that as of 2023 real personal property transactions cannot take place without producing a land title.

Benin Control is charged with expediting customs clearances and minimizing processing barriers to clearing cargo at the Port of Cotonou. Benin Control makes it possible to obtain cargo clearance within as little as 48 hours after its off-loading at the Port, though in practice this can take longer. The reinstitution of the cargo inspection and scanning program known as PVI, first tried in 2012, resumed operations at the Port in 2017. Under the PVI program, Benin Control scans between 30 and 45 randomly selected shipping containers per hour. Benin Control bills all containers exiting the Port– regardless of whether they are selected for scanning – at the rate of $60 (XOF 35,400) for a 20-foot container and $79 (XOF 47,200) for a 40-foot container (https://benincontrol.com/services/scanning).

The government, through the state-owned Benin Water Company (SONEB) and Beninese Electric Energy Company (SBEE), provides service connections to potable water and electricity free of charge to small and medium size enterprises and industries.  Eligible companies are responsible for paying the water and electricity meter installation fees.  Online application is available at https://www.soneb.bj/soneb15/pme-pmi-raccordement-gratuit and https://www.sbee.bj/site/demande-de-raccordement-des-pme-pmi-conditions/. 

The Beninese government has no policies or incentives in place to encourage Beninese businesspeople to invest abroad. The Beninese government does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights

The Land Act, amended in 2017, codifies real property rights. Land ownership disputes account for roughly 80 percent of the cases seen by Beninese tribunals. The Land Act is designed to ensure fair access to land and protect ownership rights. The Land Act establishes a transparent legal procedure for obtaining and documenting ownership, reduces property speculation in urban and rural areas, and encourages land development. The Land Act stipulates that development projects financed by international or multinational agencies cannot implement or result in forced evictions. The state is obligated to do everything possible at each stage of project development to ensure due respect of economic, social, and cultural rights recognized by international conventions and the Beninese constitution.

Secured interests in real and personal property are recognized and enforced. Secured interests in property are registered with the Land Office of the Ministry of Economy and Finance. However, it is recommended that foreign and non-resident investors buy land with title deeds and the services of a notary public in order to avoid land disputes that may result from the acquisition process. Large land leases for investment in rural areas are enforced by local city halls in conformity with the Land Act. Additional information regarding the acquisition of property may be found at the Beninese Land Agency’s website at https://www.andf.bj/. Beginning in 2023, the government will require a title deed for all transactions involving real property.

The 2005 Law on Copyright and Related Rights regulates intellectual property rights. Benin is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and has acceded to WIPO treaties and conventions on copyrights and intellectual property protection. However, enforcement of intellectual property rights in Benin is constrained by the government’s limited capacity.

Benin is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or the Notorious Markets List.

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en .

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 $14,262 2020 $15,650 www.worldbank.org/en/country/benin
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A 2020 $2 BEA:   https://www.bea.gov/international/di1usdbal
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A N/A N/A BEAhttps://www.bea.gov/international/di1fdibal
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A 2020 18.6% UNCTAD: 

https://unctad.org/topic/investment/world-investment-report

* Source for Host Country Data: Recent GOB data not available

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 $3,429 100% Total Outward $541 100%
France $1,219 35.54% France $146 26.98%
India $420 12.24% Togo $81 14.97%
Nigeria $381 11.11% Niger $72 13.30%
 China PR: Mainland $342 9.97% Côte-d’Ivoire $65 12.01%
 Côte d’Ivoire $215 6.27% Gabon $45 8.31%
 “0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Bolivia

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

In general, Bolivia remains open to FDI.  The 2014 Investment Law guarantees equal treatment for national and foreign firms. However, it also stipulates that public investment has priority over private investment (both national and foreign) and that the Bolivian government will determine which sectors require private investment.

Bolivia abrogated the BIT it signed with the United States in 2012.  The government under former president Evo Morales claimed the abrogation was necessary for Bolivia to comply with the 2009 Constitution.  Companies that invested under the U.S.–Bolivia BIT will be covered under its terms until June 10, 2022, but investments made after June 10, 2012, are not covered.

Pursuant to Article 320 of the 2009 Constitution, Bolivia no longer recognizes international arbitration forums for disputes involving the government.  The parties also cannot settle the dispute in an international court.

Specifically, Article 320 of the Bolivian Constitution states:

  1. Bolivian investment takes priority over foreign investment.
  2. Every foreign investment will be subject to Bolivian jurisdiction, laws, and authorities, and no one may invoke a situation for exception, nor appeal to diplomatic claims to obtain more favorable treatment.
  3. Economic relations with foreign states or enterprises shall be conducted under conditions of independence, mutual respect, and equity.  More favorable conditions may not be granted to foreign states or enterprises than those established for Bolivians.
  4. The state makes all decisions on internal economic policy and will not accept demands or conditions imposed on this policy by states, banks or Bolivian/foreign financial institutions, multilateral entities, or transnational enterprises.
  5. Public policies will promote internal consumption of products made in Bolivia.

Article 262 of the Constitution states:

“The fifty kilometers from the border constitute the zone of border security.  No foreign person, individual, or company may acquire property in this space, directly or indirectly, nor possess any property right in the waters, soil or subsoil, except in the case of state necessity declared by express law approved by two-thirds of the Plurinational Legislative Assembly.  The property or the possession affected in case of non-compliance with this prohibition will pass to the benefit of the state, without any indemnity.”

The judicial system faces a huge backlog of cases, limited staffing, scarce resources. It is also believed to be influenced by political actors.  Swift resolution of cases, either initiated by investors or against them, is unlikely.  The Marcelo Quiroga Anti-Corruption law of 2010 makes companies and their signatories criminally liable for breach of contract with the government, and the law can be applied retroactively.  Authorities can use this threat of criminal prosecution to force settlement of disputes.  Commercial disputes can often lead to criminal charges, and cases are often processed slowly.  See our Human Rights Report as background on the judicial system, labor rights, and other important issues.

Article 129 of the Bolivian Arbitration Law No. 708, established that all controversies and disputes that arise regarding investment in Bolivia will have to be addressed inside Bolivia under Bolivian laws.  Consequently, international arbitration is not allowed for disputes involving the Bolivian government or state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

Bolivia does not have an investment promotion agency to facilitate foreign investment.

There is a right for foreign and domestic private entities to establish and own business enterprises and engage in remunerative activity.

Investors may judge that preferential treatment is being given to their Bolivian competitors, for example, in key sectors where private companies compete with state-owned enterprises.  Additionally, foreign investment is not allowed in matters relating directly to national security.

The Constitution specifies that all hydrocarbon resources are the property of the Bolivian people and that the state will assume control over their exploration, exploitation, industrialization, transport, and marketing (Articles 348 and 351).  Yacimientos Petrolíferos Fiscales Bolivianos (YPFB) is an SOE that manages hydrocarbons transport and sales and is responsible for ensuring that the domestic market demand is satisfied at prices set by the hydrocarbons regulator before allowing any hydrocarbon exports.  YPFB benefitted from government action in 2006 that required operators to turn over their production to YPFB and to sign new contracts that gave YPFB control over the distribution of gasoline, diesel, and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) to gas stations.  The law allows YPFB to enter joint venture contracts with national or foreign individuals, and with companies wishing to exploit/trade hydrocarbons or their derivatives.  For companies working in the industry, contracts are negotiated on a service-contract basis, and there are no restrictions on ownership percentages of the companies providing the services.

The Constitution (Article 366) specifies that every foreign enterprise that conducts activities in the hydrocarbons production chain will submit to the sovereignty of the state, and to the laws and authority of the state.  No foreign court case or foreign jurisdiction will be recognized, and foreign investors may not invoke any exceptional situation for international arbitration, nor appeal to diplomatic claims.

According to the Constitution, no concessions or contracts may transfer the ownership of natural resources or other strategic industries to private interests.  Instead, temporary authorizations to use these resources may be requested at the pertinent ministry (mining, water and environment, public works, etc.).  The Bolivian government needs to renegotiate commercial agreements related to forestry, mining, telecommunications, electricity, and water services, to comply with these regulations.

The Telecommunications, Technology and Communications General Law from 2012 (Law 164, Article 28) stipulates that the licenses for radio broadcasts will not be given to foreign persons or entities.  Further, in the case of broadcasting associations, the share of foreign investors cannot exceed 25 percent of the total investment, except in those cases approved by the state or by international treaties.

The Central Bank of Bolivia is responsible for registering all foreign investments.  According to the 2014 Investment Law, any investment will be monitored by the relevant ministry for each sector.  Each Ministry assesses industry compliance with the incentive objectives.  To date, only the Ministry of Hydrocarbons and Energy proposed incentives that were enacted by Congress to incentivize the exploration and production of hydrocarbons.

Bolivia underwent a World Trade Organization (WTO) trade policy review in 2017.  In his concluding remarks, the WTO Chair noted several WTO members raised challenges impacting investor confidence in Bolivia, due primarily to Bolivia’s abrogation of 22 BITs following the passage of its 2009 constitution.  However, some WTO members also commended Bolivia for enacting a new investment promotion law in 2014 and a law on conciliation and arbitration, both of which increased legal certainty for investors, according to those members.

As of April 2022, the functions of FUNDEMPRESA, which used to register and certify new businesses, were turned over to the Servicio Plurinacional de Registro de Comercio (SEPREC). SEPREC is a public entity overseen by the Ministry of Productive Development and Plural Economy.

The steps to register a business are: (1) register and receive a certificate from SEPREC; (2) register with the Bolivian Internal Revenue Service (Servicio de Impuestos Nacionales) and receive a tax identification number; (3) register and receive authorization to operate from the municipal government in which the company will be established; (4) if the company has employees, it must register with the national health insurance service and the national retirement pension agency in order to contribute on the employees’ behalf; and (5) register with the Ministry of Labor (if the company has employees).  The process takes about 30 days from start to finish.  All steps are required, and there is no simplified business creation regime. A user can download the required forms from the website and fill them out online but then must either mail or deliver the completed forms to the relevant offices. The forms ask for a national identification card, but foreign users can enter their passport numbers instead.  The registration process takes between 2-4 working days after all requirements are submitted.

Bolivia does not have a national investment screening mechanism.

The Bolivian government does not promote or incentivize outward investment.  Nor does the government restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Property rights are legally protected and registered in the Real Estate Office, where titles or deeds are recorded, and mortgages/liens are registered.  The recording system is reliable, although there have been complaints regarding the amount of time required to register a property.

The Office of Property Registry oversees the acquisition and disposition of land, real estate, and mortgages.  Mortgages usually take no more than 60 days to obtain a standard loan.  However, challenges to land titles are common due to bureaucratic delays encountered while registering properties, especially in rural areas.  Competing claims to land titles and the absence of a reliable dispute resolution process create risk and uncertainty in real property acquisition.  Nevertheless, illegal occupation of rural private property is decreasing since the passage of Law 477 combatting land seizures.

The Bolivian Constitution grants citizens and foreigners the right to private property but stipulates that the property must serve a social or economic function.  If the government determines that a given property is not sufficiently useful (according to its own unclear criteria), the constitution allows the government to expropriate.  The agricultural sector has been most hard hit by this policy due to uncertainty from year-to-year about whether farmland would be productive.  In 2015, the government eliminated annual productivity inspections, reducing their frequency to every five years.  There are other laws that limit access to land, forest, water, and other natural resources by foreigners in Bolivia.

The constitution also grants formal, collective land titles to indigenous communities, to restore their former territories (Article 394.3), stating that public land will be granted to indigenous farmers, migrant indigenous communities, Afro-Bolivians, and small farmer communities that do not possess or who have insufficient land (Article 395).  Foreigners cannot acquire land from the Bolivian government (Article 396).  Under law 3545, passed in 2006, the government will not grant public lands to non-indigenous people or agriculture companies.  The Mother Earth Integral Development Law to Live Well (Mother Earth Law, or Law #300) passed in October 2012 specifies that the state controls access to natural resources, particularly when foreign use is involved.  In action, the law limits access to land, forest, water, and other natural resources by foreigners in Bolivia.

According to Bolivia’s Agrarian Reform Institute (INRA), approximately 25 percent of all land in Bolivia lacks clear title, and as a result, squatting is a problem.  In some cases, squatters can make a legal claim to the land.  While the Criminal Code criminalizes illegal occupation, the judicial system is slow and ineffective in its enforcement of the law.  Financial mechanisms are available for securitization of properties for lending purposes, although the threat of reversion for properties failing to fulfill a social function discourages the use of land as collateral.

The Bolivian Intellectual Property Service (SENAPI) leads the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights (IPR) within Bolivia.  SENAPI maintains and regularly updates a complete set of IPR regulations currently in force within Bolivia.  The list is available on SENAPI’s website:  https://www.senapi.gob.bo/normas . SENAPI also maintains an updated version of the services they provide, along with associated costs, at:  https://www.senapi.gob.bo/propiedad-intelectual/tasas .

The existing copyright law recognizes copyright infringement as a public offense and the 2001 Bolivian Criminal Procedures Code provides for the criminal prosecution of IPR violations.  However, it is not common for prosecutors to file criminal charges, and civil suits, if pursued, face long delays.  Criminal penalties carry a maximum of five years in jail, and civil penalties are restricted to the recovery of direct economic damages.  SENAPI has established a conciliation process to solve IPR controversies to prevent parties from going to trial, which is now the most common procedure to solve these disputes.

Bolivia does not have an area of civil law specifically related to industrial property, but it has a century-old industrial privileges law still in force.  Bolivia is a signatory of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS).  SENAPI is aware of Bolivia’s obligations under the TRIPS Agreement, and it sets out the minimum standards of IPR protection in compliance with this agreement.  SENAPI sustains its position that Bolivia complies with the substantive obligations of the main conventions of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (Paris Convention), and the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works (Berne Convention) in their most recent versions.  According to SENAPI, Bolivia complies with WTO’s dispute settlement procedures in accordance with its TRIPS obligations.  However, Bolivia falls short on the implementation of domestic procedures and providing legal remedies for the enforcement of intellectual property rights.

Bolivia is a signatory country of the 1996 WIPO Copyright Treaty and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty; however, it did not ratify any of those treaties domestically.  Bolivia is not a member of the Madrid Protocol on Trademarks, the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs, or the Patent Law Treaty.

Bolivia is a signatory of Andean Community (CAN) Decision 486, which deals with industrial property and trade secrets and is legally binding in Bolivia.  Decision 486 states that each member country shall accord the Andean Community countries, the World Trade Organization, and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, treatment no less favorable than it accords to its own nationals regarding IPR protection.  Besides its international obligations, Bolivia has not passed any domestic laws protecting trade secrets.

CAN Decision 486 also enforces patent registrations in Bolivia. SENAPI reviews patent registrations for form and substance and publishes notices of proposed registrations in the Official Gazette.  If there are no objections within 30 working days, the organization grants patents for a period of 20 years.  The registration of trademarks parallels that of patents.  Once obtained, a trademark is valid for a 10-year renewable period.  It can be cancelled if not used within three years of the date of grant.

Law 1134, the “Bolivian Cinema and Audiovisual Arts Law” created a fund to promote Bolivian cinema by charging foreign movie distributors and exhibitors’ three percent of their total monthly revenue.   Article 27 of the law strengthens IPR protections for visual works and allows Bolivian Customs to pursue criminal prosecution, but it is unlikely that foreign works would be protected in practice.

Bolivian Customs lacks the human and financial resources needed to intercept counterfeit goods shipments at international borders effectively.  Customs authorities act only when industries trying to protect their brands file complaints.  Moreover, the informal sector has a sense of unregulated capitalism regarding the sale of counterfeit goods.  Many importers believe the payment of customs fees will “legalize” the sale of counterfeit products.   Sellers either do not know about or consider IPR, particularly in the textile, electrical appliances, and entertainment markets.  Large quantities of counterfeit electrical appliances imported from China bearing well-known and clearly non-original brands are available for purchase in local markets.  There is also a flourishing market of textile products made in Bolivia and marketed using counterfeit labels of major U.S. brands.  While most counterfeit items come with the illegal brand already attached, brands and logos are available for purchase on the street and can easily be affixed to goods.

Although court actions against IPR infringements are infrequent, there have been some significant cases.  The Industrial Property Director at SENAPI reported that the number of indictments related to counterfeit products increased steadily over the years.  According to SENAPI, this does not necessarily represent an increase in the total volume of counterfeit products.  Rather, the increase in indictments is due to SENAPI’s emphasis on enforcement efforts and the public’s greater awareness of IPR rights.  Because of publicly reported problems of counterfeit COVID-19 medicines in 2020 and 2021, the Bolivian Police task force launched several raids to counter groups of counterfeit medicine smugglers. These groups reportedly smuggled products from Peru, Paraguay, and Brazil.

Bolivia is listed on the Watch List of the U.S. Trade Representative’s 2022 Special 301 Report and is not named in its 2021 Review of Notorious Market for Counterfeiting and Piracy.

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/ 

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) 2020 $37,898 2020 $36,572 www.worldbank.org/en/country
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical Source* USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2020 $432 2020 $432 BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) 2020 30 2020 30 BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP 2020 27.6% 2020 27.6% UNCTAD data available at https://unctad.org/en/Pages/DIAE/World%20Investment%20Report/Country-Fact-Sheets.aspx

* Source for Host Country Data: BEA, UNCTAD, World Bank

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 10,479 100% Total Outward 789 100%
Spain 2,527 24.1% Netherlands 339 43.0%
Sweden 1,318 12.6% Peru 77 9.7
Peru 1,247 11.9% Panama 67 8.5%
Netherlands 885 8.4% Brazil 40 5.1%
France 605 5.8% Canada 37 4.8%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Bosnia and Herzegovina struggles to attract foreign investment. Complex labor and pension laws, the lack of a single economic space, and inadequate judicial and regulatory protections deter investment. Under the BiH constitution, established through the Dayton Accords that ended the 1990s war, Bosnia and Herzegovina (henceforth “the state”) is comprised of two “entities,” the Federation of BiH (the Federation) and the Republika Srpska (RS). A third, smaller area, the Brčko District, operates under a special status. The Federation includes ten cantons, each with its own government and responsibilities. There are also 143 municipalities in BiH: 63 in the RS and 80 in the Federation. As a result, BiH has a multi-tiered legal and regulatory framework that can be duplicative and contradictory, and is not conducive to attracting foreign investors.

Employers bear a heavy burden toward governments. They must contribute 69 percent on top of wages in the Federation and 52 percent in the RS to the health, unemployment, and pension systems. The labor and pension laws are also deterrents to investment, though both are being reformed to decrease burdens on employers. While corporate income taxes in the two entities and Brčko District are now harmonized at 10 percent, entity business registration requirements are not harmonized. The RS has its own registration requirements, which apply to the entire entity. Each of the Federation’s ten cantons has different business regulations and administrative procedures affecting companies. Simplifying and streamlining this framework is essential to improving the investment climate. EU reforms target changes that should improve the investment climate by clarifying and simplifying regulation and procedures while decreasing fees faced by businesses at the entity, canton, and municipal levels — but lack of political will has stalled even the most basic of reforms.

Generally, BiH’s legal framework does not discriminate against foreign investors. However, given the high level of corruption, foreign investors can be at a significant disadvantage in relation to entrenched local companies as well as some foreign investors, such as the People’s Republic of China, especially those with formal or informal backing by BiH’s various levels of government.

The Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA) is a state-level organization mandated by the Council of Ministers to facilitate and support FDI ( www.fipa.gov.ba ). FIPA provides data, analysis, and advice on the business and investment climate to foreign investors. All FIPA services are free of charge.

BiH does not maintain an ongoing, formal dialogue with foreign investors. Sporadically, high-ranking government officials give media statements inviting foreign investments in the energy, transportation, and agriculture industries; however, the announcements are rarely supported by tangible, commercially-viable investment opportunities.

According to the Law on the Policy of FDI, foreign investors are entitled to invest in any sector of the economy in the same form and under the same conditions as those defined for local residents. Exceptions include the defense industry and some areas of publishing and media where foreign ownership is restricted to 49 percent; and electric power transmission, which is closed to foreign investment. In practice, additional sectors are dominated by government monopolies (such as airport operation), or characterized by oligopolistic market structures (such as telecommunications and electricity generation), making it difficult for foreign investors to engage. There have been no significant privatizations of government-owned enterprises in the past few years.

In the past three years, the BiH government has not conducted an investment policy review through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); the World Trade Organization (WTO); or the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).

Establishing a business in BiH can be an extremely burdensome and time-consuming process for investors. The World Bank estimates there are an average of 13 procedures (actual number depends on the type of business), taking a total of 81 days, to register a new business in the capital city of Sarajevo. Registration in BiH can sometimes be expedited if companies retain a local lawyer to follow up at each step of the process. The RS established a one-stop shop for business registration in the entity. On paper, this dramatically reduced the time required to register a business in the RS, bringing the government-reported time to register a company down to an average of 7 to 14 days. Some businesses, however, report that in practice it can take significantly longer.

The entity, cantonal, and municipal levels of government each establish their own laws and regulations on business operations, creating redundant and inconsistent procedures that facilitate corruption. It is often difficult to understand all the laws and rules that might apply to certain business activities, given overlapping jurisdictions and the lack of a central information source. It is therefore critical that foreign investors obtain local assistance and advice. Investors in the Federation may register their business as a branch in the RS and vice versa.

The most common U.S. business presence found in BiH are representative offices. A representative office is not considered to be a legal entity and its activities are limited to market research, contract or investment preparations, technical cooperation, and similar business facilitation activities. The BiH Law on Foreign Trade Policy governs the establishment of a representative office. To open a representative office, a company must register with the Registry of Representative Offices, maintained by the BiH Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Affairs (MoFTER), and the appropriate entity’s ministry of trade.

Additional English-language information on the business registration process can be found at:

BiH Ministry of Foreign Trade & Economic Relations (MoFTER):
Ph: +387-33-220-093
www.mvteo.gov.ba 

BiH Foreign Investment Promotion Agency (FIPA):
Ph: + 387 33 278 080
www.fipa.gov.ba 

Republika Srpska Company Registration Website:
http://www.investsrpska.net 

The government does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad. There are no programs to promote or incentivize outward investment.

5. Protection of Property Rights

The 2020 World Bank Doing Business Report ranked BiH at number 96 out of 190 in the ease of registering property, which takes 7 procedures and an average of 35 days. Registration of real property titles is generally acknowledged as a significant barrier to the real property and mortgage market development. The present system consists of separate geodetic administrations for the Federation and the RS, which are responsible for real property cadasters. Real property cadasters describe and certify the legal object, e.g. land, house, etc. Separately, the land registry establishes legal ownership and rights for the specific object and is maintained by the municipal courts. A significant portion of land and real estate property does not have a clear title due to restitution issues. Foreigners must register a local company to purchase property; the company then makes the purchase and is recorded as the landowner. The exception to this rule is if the foreigners’ country of citizenship has a reciprocal land ownership agreement with BiH. In that case, the foreigner may directly own land.

Companies should have a comprehensive intellectual property rights (IPR) strategy in BiH since rights must be registered and enforced according to local law. BiH’s IPR framework consists of seven laws adopted and put into force by the Parliament in 2010. This legislation is compliant with the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and EU legislation. BiH is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and party to a number of its treaties, including the Berne Convention, the Paris Convention, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the WIPO Copyright Treaty, and the WIPO Performance and Phonograms Treaty. Registration of patents and trademarks is on a first-in-time, first-in-right basis, so businesses should consider applying for trademark and patent protection prior to introducing their products or services in the BiH market. Companies may wish to seek advice from local attorneys who are experts in IPR law. Although existing legislation provides a basic level of protection, BiH’s civil and criminal enforcement remains weak.

Jurisdiction over IPR investigations is split between customs officials, entity inspectorates, and state and entity law enforcement agencies, none of which has specialized IPR investigation teams. IPR crimes are prosecuted primarily at the state level. Cases in which companies are indicted often involve fairly low-level violators. More significant cases have sometimes languished for years with little action from prosecutors or judges.

Some BiH government entities have been using licensed software for a number of years, such as the state-level government which came into compliance in 2009, a significant step forward in the government’s commitment to IPR protection. However, some of the Cantonal governments continue using unlicensed software as some officials still do not understand the implications for IPR infringement.

In BiH’s private sector, awareness of IPR, particularly the importance of copyright protection, remains low, though the emergence of a local software development industry is helping to raise awareness. Curbing business software piracy could significantly improve the local economy by creating new jobs and generating tax revenue. The failure to recognize the importance of preventing copyright infringement makes software producers and official distributors less competitive and the establishment of a legitimate market more difficult. According to the Business Software Alliance (BSA), the rate of illegal software installed on personal computers in BiH currently remains at 66 percent, which is the regional average.

Collective copyright protection and enforcement also remains a challenge in BiH. There is no established local representative to collect and distribute royalties for visual artists, filmmakers, and literary authors. The Association of Composers and Musical Authors is the only licensed collective management organization for music authors in BiH, and it faces enforcement challenges since both musical artists and consumers remain skeptical and unfamiliar with collective management protection.

The U.S. Government, in conjunction with local partners, has made IPR awareness within the BiH enforcement community a priority through judicial engagement and public awareness programs.

Bosnia and Herzegovina is not included in the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR’s) 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 www.wipo.int/directory/en/ 

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) (USD) 2020 $19.9 billion*

 

2020 $19.9 billion www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI ($M USD, stock positions)     2021 $250 million (Post estimate) N/A N/A N/A
FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions)         N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Total inbound stock of FDI as %  GDP ($M USD, stock positions)       N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A

*Source: BiH Statistics Agency

Table 3: Sources of FDI
Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations 1994-2022 (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward $8,882 100% Total Outward 524 100%
Austria $1,635 18.4% Croatia 130 24.8%
Croatia $1,421 15.9% Germany 97 18.5%
Serbia $1,288 14.5% Montenegro 87 16.6%
Slovenia $692 7.7% Serbia 74 14.1%
Germany $501 5.6% Romania 37 7.0%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

According to the BiH Central Bank preliminary data for 2021, FDI inflow in Bosnia and Herzegovina increased significantly by 65% comparing to the same period of 2020 and amounted to USD 617 million. The all-time high for FDI was USD 2.1 billion in 2007. Most investments in 2014-2021 came from Croatia, Austria, Russia, Serbia, Germany, The Netherlands, UAE, and the United Kingdom.

Botswana

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment 

The GoB publicly emphasizes the importance of attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and drafted an investment facilitation law recommended by the 2014 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Investment Review.  While the draft was completed in 2016 with technical assistance from UNCTAD, it was never enacted.  The draft is still under review and will be presented to Parliament for approval.  The GoB has launched initiatives to promote economic activity and foreign investment in specific areas, such as establishing a diamond hub which brought more value-added businesses (i.e., cutting and polishing) into the country.  Additional investment opportunities in Botswana include large water projects, electricity, transportation, telecommunication infrastructure projects, horticultural production, and agro processing. Economists have also noted Botswana’s considerable potential in the mining, mineral processing, beef, tourism, solar energy, and financial services sectors.  BITC assists foreign investors with projects intended to diversify export revenue, create employment, and transfer skills to the citizens of Botswana.  The High-Level Consultative Council (HLCC), chaired by the President, and an Exporter Roundtable organized by BITC and Botswana’s Exporters and Manufacturers Association (BEMA), are mechanisms employed by the GoB to focus on a healthy business environment for FDI.

Botswana’s 2003 Trade Act reserves licenses for citizens in 19 sectors, including general trading establishments, gas stations, liquor stores, supermarkets (excluding chain stores), bars (other than those associated with hotels), certain types of restaurants, boutiques, auctioneers, car washes, domestic cleaning services, curio shops, fresh produce vendors, funeral homes, hairdressers, various types of rental/hire services, laundromats, specific types of government construction projects under a certain dollar amount, certain activities related to road and railway construction and maintenance, and certain types of manufacturing activities including the production of furniture for schools, welding, and bricklaying.  The law allows foreigners to participate in these sectors as minority joint venture partners in medium-sized businesses.  Foreigners can hold the majority share if they obtain written approval from the trade minister.  Foreign companies have access to about 46 trading licenses in different categories.  It takes approximately five working days to obtain a license.

The Ministry of Investment, Trade, and Industry (MITI) administers the citizen participation initiative and takes an expansive interpretation of the term chain stores, so that it encompasses any store with more than one outlet.  This broad interpretation has resulted in the need to apply exemptions to certain supermarkets, simple specialty operations, and general trading stores.  These exceptions were generally granted prior to 2015 and many large general merchandise markets, restaurants, and grocery networks are owned by foreigners as a result.  Since 2015, the GoB has denied some exception requests, but reports they have approved some based on localization agreements directly negotiated between the ministry and the applying company.  These agreements reportedly include commitments to purchase supplies locally and capacity building for local workers and industry.  BITC conducts due diligence on companies that are looking to invest in the country and the Directorate of Intelligence Services (DIS) handles background checks for national security.

Botswana has been a World Trade Organization (WTO) member since 1995.  In 2016, the WTO conducted a trade policy review of the Southern African Customs Union to which Botswana belongs ( https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp322_e.htm ).

Botswana underwent an ICT Policy Review and e-Commerce strategy review with UNCTAD and the report was released in October 2021 (https://unctad.org/system/files/official-document/dtlstict2021d4_en.pdf).  Botswana sees this as a critical move to diversify the economy and position the country to be a bigger player in the global economy.

To operate a business in Botswana, one needs to register a company with the GoB’s CIPA through the OBRS at: https://www.cipa.co.bw/types-of-entities 

CIPA asserts that the company registration process can be completed in a day and is integrated with BURS which allows for a fast-tracked tax registration in 30 days.  Additional work is required to open bank accounts and obtain necessary licenses and permits.

BITC ( www.bitc.co.bw ), the GoB’s integrated investment and trade promotion authority, was designed to serve as a one-stop shop to assist investors in setting up a business and finding a location for operation.  BITC’s ability to streamline procedures varies based on GoB entity and bureaucratic requirements.  BITC assesses investment projects on their ability to diversify the economy away from its continued dependence on diamond mining, contribute towards export-led growth, and job creation for and skills transfer to Batswana citizens.  BITC also hosts the Botswana Trade Portal ( https://www.botswanatradeportal.org.bw ) that is designed to ease trade across borders.  It is a single point of contact for all information relating to import and export to and from Botswana and represents relevant ministries and parastatals.

Botswana has several incentives and preferences for both citizen-owned and locally based companies.  Foreign-owned companies can benefit from local procurement preferences which are usually required for government tenders.  MITI instituted a program in 2015 to give locally based small companies a 15 percent preferential price margin in GoB procurement, with mid-sized companies receiving a 10 percent margin, and large companies a five percent margin.  Under this policy, MITI defines small companies as having less than five million pula in annual revenue reflected in their financial statements, medium companies with five to 20 million pula in revenue, and large companies with revenues exceeding 20 million pula.  The directive applies to 27 categories of goods and services ranging from textiles, chemicals, and food, as well as a broad range of consultancy services.  The government can also offer up to 50 million pula in funding through the Citizen Entrepreneurial Development Agency (CEDA) to joint ventures between foreign and citizen owned companies.

For Companies Act registration purposes, enterprises are classified as:  Micro Enterprises – fewer than six employees including the owner and an annual revenue below 60 thousand pula; Small Enterprises – fewer than 25 employees and an annual revenue between 60 thousand and 1.5 million pula; Medium Enterprises – fewer than 100 employees and annual revenue between 1.5 and 5 million pula; Large Enterprises – over 100 employees and an annual revenue of at least 5 million pula.  This classification system permits foreigners to participate as minority shareholders in medium-sized enterprises in the 35 business sectors reserved for citizens.

The GoB neither promotes nor restricts outward investment.

5. Protection of Property Rights 

Property rights are enforced in Botswana.  There are three main categories of land in Botswana: freehold, state land, and tribal land.  Tribal and state land cannot be sold to foreigners.  There are no restrictions on the sale of freehold land, but only an approximate five percent of land in Botswana is freehold.  All minerals in Botswana, even those on private lands, are viewed as property of the State.  In the capital city of Gaborone, the number of freehold plots is limited.  In 2019, the GoB increased the rate of Transfer Duty on the sale and transfer of property to non-citizens (both individuals and companies) from five percent to 30 percent.

State land represents about 25 percent of land in Botswana.  On application to the Department of Lands, both foreign-owned and local enterprises registered in Botswana may lease state land for industrial or residential use.  Commercial use leases are for 50 years, and residential leases are for 99 years.  Waiting periods tend to be long for leasehold applications, but subleases from current leaseholders are available.  In 2014, the GoB changed its implementing regulation to allow companies with fewer than five employees to operate in residential areas if their operations do not pose a health or safety risk to residents.

Tribal land represents 70 percent of land in Botswana.  To obtain a lease for tribal land, the investor must approach the relevant local Land Board.  Processes are unlikely to be streamlined or consistent across Land Boards.

Since independence, the trend in Botswana has been to increase the area of tribal land at the expense of both state and freehold land.  Landlord-tenant law in Botswana tends to be moderately pro-landlord.

In addition to helping investors who meet its criteria obtain appropriate land leaseholds, BITC has also built factory units for lease to industrialists with the option to purchase at market value.

Botswana’s legal intellectual property rights (IPR) structure is adequate, although some improvements are needed.  The key challenge facing the GoB is effective implementation. CIPA was established in 2014 and is comprised of three offices: the Companies and Business Office, the Industrial Property Office, and the Copyright Office.  Intellectual property is registered through CIPA.  CIPA’s priorities are to strengthen and implement Botswana’s IPR regime and to improve interagency cooperation.  IPR infringement occurs in Botswana primarily through the sale of counterfeit items in low-end sales outlets.  According to CIPA, targeted raids by local law enforcement have reduced the availability of counterfeit goods across the country.  Several spot checks that were conducted in Gaborone revealed that most of the shops that used to sell counterfeit products were no longer selling them.  Of the raids that were done, 456 were works with no holograms, 34 pirated works and 1,454 were products infringing on trademarks such as Nike, Fila, Soviet, Adidas, Puma, Converse, etc.  Most of these were found with street hawkers.   The U.S. government continues to work with the GoB to modernize and improve enforcement of IPR.

IPR is protected under the Industrial Property Act of 2010, which provides protections on patents, trademarks, utility designs, handicrafts, traditional knowledge, and geographic indicators.  The 2000 Copyright and Neighboring Rights Act also protects art and literary works, and the 1975 Registration of Business Names Act oversees corporate name and registration procedures.  On March 31, 2022, the Parliament passed the Intellectual Property Policy which was developed with the assistance of the World Intellectual Property Authority (WIPO).  Its primary aim is to leverage Botswana’s IP potential for inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development.  Other IPR-related laws include the Competition Act, the Value Added Tax Act, the Botswana Penal Code, the Customs and Excise Duty Act, the Monuments and Relics Act, the Broadcasting Act, and the Societies Act.

Botswana is not included in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or the Notorious Markets List.

Botswana is a signatory to the Beijing Treaty on Audiovisual Performances, the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Deposit of Industrial Designs, the Protocol Relating to the Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks, the Convention establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), the WIPO Copyright Treaty, the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works, and the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.

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/. 

Brazil

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Brazil was the world’s seventh-largest destination for foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2019, with inflows of $58 billion, according to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The GoB actively encourages FDI – particularly in the automobile, renewable energy, life sciences, oil and gas, mining, and transportation infrastructure sectors – to introduce greater innovation into Brazil’s economy and to generate economic growth. GoB investment incentives include tax exemptions and low-cost financing with no distinction made between domestic and foreign investors in most sectors. Foreign investment is restricted in the health, mass media, telecommunications, aerospace, rural property, maritime, and insurance sectors.

The Brazilian Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (APEX-Brasil) plays a leading role in attracting FDI to Brazil by working to identify business opportunities, promoting strategic events, and lending support to foreign investors willing to allocate resources to Brazil. APEX-Brasil is not a “one-stop shop” for foreign investors, but the agency can assist in all steps of the investor’s decision-making process, to include identifying and contacting potential industry segments, sector and market analyses, and general guidelines on legal and fiscal issues. Their services are free of charge. The website for APEX-Brasil is: http://www.apexbrasil.com.br/en . 

In 2016, the Ministry of Economy created the Direct Investments Ombudsman (OID) at the Board of Foreign Trade and Investments (CAMEX), to provide assistance to foreign investors through a single body for issues related to FDI in Brazil. This structure aims to help and eventually speed up foreign investments in Brazil, providing foreign and national investors with a simpler process for establishing new businesses and implementing additional investments in their current companies. Since 2019, the OID has acted as a “single window” of the Brazilian government for FDI. It supports and guides investors in their requests, recommending solutions to their complaints (Policy Advocacy) as well as proposing improvements to the legislation or administrative procedures to public agencies whenever necessary. The OID is responsible for receiving requests and inquiries on matters related to foreign investments, to be answered together with government agencies and entities (federal, state and municipal) involved in each case (Focal Points Network). This new structure provides a centralized support system to foreign investors, and must respond in a timely manner to investors’ requests.

A 1995 constitutional amendment (EC 6/1995) eliminated distinctions between foreign and local capital, ending favorable treatment (i.e. tax incentives, preference for winning bids) for companies using only local capital. However, constitutional law restricts foreign investment in healthcare (Law 8080/1990, altered by 13097/2015), mass media (Law 10610/2002), telecommunications (Law 12485/2011), aerospace (Law 7565/1986 a, Decree 6834/2009, updated by Law 12970/2014, Law 13133/2015, and Law 13319/2016), rural property (Law 5709/1971), maritime (Law 9432/1997, Decree 2256/1997), and insurance (Law 11371/2006).

Brazil does not have a national security-based foreign investment screening process. Foreign investors in Brazil must electronically register their investment with the Central Bank of Brazil (BCB) within 30 days of the inflow of resources to Brazil. In cases of investments involving royalties and technology transfer, investors must register with Brazil’s patent office, the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI). Since the approval of the Doing Business Law in 2021, companies are no longer required to have an administrator residing in Brazil, but they must appoint a local proxy attorney to receive legal notifications. Portfolio investors must have a Brazilian financial administrator and register with the Brazilian Securities Exchange Commission (CVM). Brazil does not have an investment screening mechanism based on national security interests. A bill was proposed in the Chamber of Deputies in 2020 (PL 2491) to change the parameters under which to review foreign investments could be reviewed, but the bill has not yet been analyzed by the necessary commissions.

To enter Brazil’s insurance and reinsurance market, U.S. companies must establish a subsidiary, enter a joint venture, acquire a local firm, or enter a partnership with a local company. The BCB reviews banking license applications on a case-by-case basis. Foreign interests own or control 20 of the top 50 banks in Brazil, but Santander is the only major wholly foreign-owned retail bank.

Since June 2019, foreign investors may own 100 percent of capital in Brazilian airline companies.

While 2015 and 2017 legislative and regulatory changes relaxed some restrictions on insurance and reinsurance, rules on preferential offers to local reinsurers remain unchanged. Foreign reinsurance firms must have a representational office in Brazil to qualify as an admitted reinsurer. Insurance and reinsurance companies must maintain an active registration with Brazil’s insurance regulator, the Superintendence of Private Insurance (SUSEP), and maintain a solvency classification issued by a risk classification agency equal to Standard & Poor’s or Fitch ratings of at least BBB-.

Foreign ownership of cable TV companies is allowed, and telecom companies may offer television packages with their service. Content quotas require every channel to air at least three and a half hours per week of Brazilian programming during primetime. Additionally, one-third of all channels included in any TV package must be Brazilian.

The National Land Reform and Settlement Institute administers the purchase and lease of Brazilian agricultural land by foreigners. Under the applicable rules, the area of agricultural land bought or leased by foreigners cannot account for more than 25 percent of the overall land area in a given municipal district. Additionally, no more than 10 percent of agricultural land in any given municipal district may be owned or leased by foreign nationals from the same country. The law also states that prior consent is needed for purchase of land in areas considered indispensable to national security and for land along the border. The rules also make it necessary to obtain congressional approval before large plots of agricultural land can be purchased by foreign nationals, foreign companies, or Brazilian companies with majority foreign shareholding. In December 2020, the Senate approved a bill (PL 2963/2019; source: https://www25.senado.leg.br/web/atividade/materias/-/materia/136853 ) to ease restrictions on foreign land ownership and the Chamber of Deputies began to deliberate on the bill; however, the bill was shelved with no plans to advance it further after President Bolsonaro expressed concerns regarding the legislation.

Brazil is not yet a signatory to the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Government Procurement (GPA), but submitted its application for accession in May 2020. In February 2021, Brazil formalized its initial offer to start negotiations.  The submission establishes a series of thresholds above which foreign sellers will be allowed to bid for procurements. Such thresholds vary for different procuring entities and types of procurements. The proposal also includes procurements by some states and municipalities (with restrictions) as well as state-owned enterprises, but it excludes certain sensitive categories, such as financial services, strategic health products, and specific information technologies. Brazil’s submission is currently under review with GPA members.

By statute, a Brazilian state enterprise may subcontract services to a foreign firm only if domestic expertise is unavailable. Additionally, U.S. and other foreign firms may only bid to provide technical services when there are no qualified Brazilian firms. U.S. companies need to enter into partnerships with local firms or have operations in Brazil in order to be eligible for “margins of preference” offered to domestic firms participating in Brazil’s public sector procurement to help these firms win government tenders. Nevertheless, foreign companies are often successful in obtaining subcontracting opportunities with large Brazilian firms that win government contracts, and since October 2020 foreign companies are allowed to participate in bids without the need for an in-country corporate presence (although establishing such a presence is mandatory if the bid is successful). A revised Government Procurement Protocol of the trade bloc Mercosul (Mercosur in Spanish) signed in 2017 would entitle member nations Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay to non-discriminatory treatment of government-procured goods, services, and public works originating from each other’s suppliers and providers. However, none of the bloc’s members have ratified the protocol, so it has not entered into force. Despite the restrictions within Mercosul, in January 2022 Brazil and Chile entered into an agreement which includes government procurement.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) December 2021 Economic Forecast Summary of Brazil summarized that with the COVID-19 vaccination campaign accelerating throughout the year, economic activity underpinned by reduced private consumption and investment restarted as restrictions were lifted, and exports benefited from the global recovery, the robust demand for commodities, and a weak exchange rate. However, supply bottlenecks, lower purchasing power, higher interest rates, and policy uncertainty have slowed the pace of recovery. The labor market is experiencing a lag in recovering from the pandemic, and by the end of 2021 unemployment remained above pre-pandemic levels. The residual effect of the government’s significant fiscal stimulus spending in 2020 to reinvigorate the economy contributed to inflationary pressure, further compounded by constrained global supply chains pushing prices up. In response, the COPOM chose to incrementally increase its benchmark SELIC rate from 2 percent in March 2021 to 11.75 percent in March 2022. The COPOM announced that it would continue tightening its monetary policy in an effort to curb inflation and anchor expectations. Prospects for economic growth are weak for 2022 and 2023. The OECD recommended that Brazil strengthen and adhere to its fiscal rules to increase market confidence in establishing sustainable finances and exercising more efficient public spending to create fiscal space for growth-enhancing policies, along with developing a more inclusive social protection program.

The IMF’s 2021 Country Report No. 2021/217 (published in September 2021) for Brazil highlighted that its economic performance for the year had been better than expected, partly due to the government’s fiscal response to the pandemic which propelled the economy back to pre-pandemic levels for most sectors. In addition, the IMF noted a favorable economic momentum supported by booming trade and robust private sector credit growth. The IMF assessed that currency depreciation and a surge in commodity prices had led to headline inflation, and that expectations remained negative. The report noted Brazil’s lagging labor market, especially among youths, women, and Afro-Brazilians. The IMF also expressed concerns that emergency cash transfers (which expired in December 2021) were only a short-term solution, and recommended addressing poverty and inequality by strengthening a more permanent social safety net. The IMF concluded that near-term fiscal risks were low, but the high level of public debt continued to pose a medium-term risk. Restoring high and sustained growth, increasing employment, raising productivity, improving living standards, and reducing vulnerabilities would require longer-term policy efforts to eliminate bottlenecks and foster private sector-led investment.

The WTO’s 2017 Trade Policy Review of Brazil noted the country’s open stance towards foreign investment, but also pointed to the many sector-specific limitations (see above). The three reports listed below, with links to the reports, highlight the uncertainty regarding reform plans as the most significant political risk to the economy.

  1. OECD Report:
  2. IMF Report:
  3. WTO Report:

A company must register with the National Revenue Service (Receita Federal) to obtain a business license and be placed on the National Registry of Legal Entities (CNPJ). Brazil’s Export Promotion and Investment Agency (APEX) has a mandate to facilitate foreign investment in Brazil. The agency’s services are available to all investors, foreign and domestic. Foreign companies interested in investing in Brazil have access to many benefits and tax incentives granted by the Brazilian government at the municipal, state, and federal levels. Most incentives target specific sectors, amounts invested, and job generation. Brazil’s business registration website can be found at: https://www.gov.br/pt-br/servicos/inscrever-ou-atualizar-cadastro-nacional-de-pessoas-juridicas  .

Brazil enacted its “Doing Business” law, which entered into force on August 26, 2021. The law simplified the process to open a business, sought to facilitate foreign trade by eliminating redundancy as well as further automating its trade processes, and expand the powers of minority shareholders in private companies.

Adopted in September 2019, the Economic Freedom Law 13.874 established the Economic Freedom Declaration of Rights and provides for free market guarantees. The law includes several provisions to simplify regulations and establish norms for the protection of free enterprise and free exercise of economic activity.

On August 20, 2021, the Brazilian government included the Foreign Trade Secretariat (SECEX) in the Brazilian Authorized Economic Operator Program (Programa OEA), run by Receita Federal (Internal Federal Revenue service), allowing Government of Brazil-designated OEA certified operators to maintain a low-level risk to achieve benefits in their foreign trade operations related to drawback suspension and exemption regimes.

Through the digital transformation initiative in Brazil, foreign companies can open branches via the internet. Since 2019, it has been easier for foreign businesspeople to request authorization from the Brazilian federal government. After filling out the registration, creating an account, and sending the necessary documentation, business entities can make the authorization request on the Brazilian government’s online portal through a legal representative. The electronic documents will then be analyzed by the Brazilian National Department of Business Registration and Integration (DREI) team. DREI will inform the applicant of any missing documentation via the portal and e-mail and give a 60-day period for the applicant to submit any additional information. The legal representative of the foreign company, or another third party who holds a power of attorney, may request registration through this link: https://acesso.gov.br/acesso/#/primeiro-acesso?clientDetails=eyJjbGllbnRVcmkiOiJodHRwczpcL1wvYWNlc3NvLmdvdi5iciIsImNsaWVudE5hbWUiOiJQb3J0YWwgZ292LmJyIiwiY2xpZW50VmVyaWZpZWRVc2VyIjp0cnVlfQ%3D%3D    

The regulation of foreign companies opening businesses in Brazil is governed by article 1,134 of the Brazilian Civil Code and article 1 of DREI Normative Instruction 77/2020. English-language general guidelines to open a foreign company in Brazil are not yet available, but the Portuguese version is available at the following link: https://www.gov.br/economia/pt-br/assuntos/drei/empresas-estrangeiras  .

For foreign companies that will be a partner or shareholder of a Brazilian national company, the governing regulation is DREI Normative Instruction 81/2020 (https://www.in.gov.br/en/web/dou/-/instrucao-normativa-n-81-de-10-de-junho-de-2020-261499054 ). The contact information of the DREI is drei@economia.gov.br and +55 (61) 2020-2302.

References:

  1. provides investment measures, laws and treaties enacted by selected countries.
  2. provides links to business registration sites worldwide.

Brazil does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad. APEX-Brasil supports Brazilian companies’ efforts to invest abroad under its “internationalization program”: http://www.apexbrasil.com.br/como-a-apex-brasil-pode-ajudar-na-internacionalizacao-de-sua-empresa  . APEX-Brasil frequently highlights the United States as a worthwhile destination for outbound investment. APEX-Brasil and SelectUSA (U.S. Department of Commerce) signed a memorandum of cooperation in February 2014 to promote bilateral investment.

Brazil incentivizes outward investment. APEX-Brasil organizes several initiatives aimed at promoting Brazilian investments abroad. The agency´s efforts include trade missions, business round tables, promoting the participation of Brazilian companies in major international trade fairs, and arranging technical visits for foreign buyers to Brazil as well as facilitating travel for decision-makers seeking to learn about the Brazilian market and performing other commercial activities designed to strengthen the country’s branding abroad.

The main sectors of Brazilian investments abroad are financial services and assets (totaling 62.9 percent of total investments abroad); oil and gas extraction (12 percent); and mineral metal extraction (6.5 percent). Including all sectors, Brazilian investments abroad totaled $448 billion in 2020. The regions that received the largest share of Brazilian outward investments are the Caribbean (43.3 percent), concentrated in the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands and Bahamas, and Europe (37.9 percent), primarily the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

Regulations on investments abroad are outlined in BCB Ordinance 3,689/2013 (foreign capital in Brazil and Brazilian capital abroad): https://www.bcb.gov.br/pre/normativos/busca/downloadNormativo.asp?arquivo=/Lists/Normativos/Attachments/48812/Circ_3689_v1_O.pdf

Sales of cross-border mutual funds are only allowed to certain categories of investors, not to the general public. In 2020, international financial services companies active in Brazil submitted a proposal to Brazilian regulators to allow opening these mutual funds to the general public, and the Brazilian Securities and Exchange Commission is expected to approve their recommendation by June 2022. Discussions with regulators about increasing the share percentages that pension funds and insurers can invest abroad (currently 10 percent for pension funds, 20 percent for insurers, and 40 percent for qualified investors) are ongoing, along with discussions about tax deferral mechanisms to incentivize Brazilian investment abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Brazil has a system in place for mortgage registration, but implementation is uneven and there is no standardized contract. Foreign individuals or foreign-owned companies can purchase real estate property in Brazil. Foreign buyers frequently arrange alternative financing in their own countries, where interest rates may be more attractive. Law 9514/1997 helped to boost the mortgage industry by establishing a legal framework for a secondary market in mortgages and streamlining the foreclosure process, but the mortgage market in Brazil is still underdeveloped, and foreigners may have difficulty obtaining local financing. Large U.S. real estate firms are, nonetheless, expanding their portfolios in Brazil.

Intellectual property (IP) rights holders in Brazil continue to face challenges. Brazil has remained on the “Watch List” of the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) Special 301 Report since 2017. The U.S. Government has long-standing concerns about Brazil’s enforcement regime and specific problems like the excessively high rates of online piracy. Brazil has one physical market located in São Paulo that is listed on USTR’s 2021 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy. The Rua 25 de Março area is identified in the review as a distribution center for counterfeit and pirated goods throughout São Paulo. Government officials continue to take enforcement actions in this region, and authorities have used these enforcement actions as a basis to take civil measures against some of the other stores that have been identified for selling counterfeit goods in the area. According to the National Forum Against Piracy, contraband, pirated, counterfeit, and stolen goods cost Brazil approximately $54 billion in 2020. (https://www.fncp.org.br/areas-de-atuacao.html#combate-ao-mercado-ilegal  ) (Yearly average currency exchange rate: 1 USD = 5.3 BRL)

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO)’s country profiles: http://www.wipo.int/directory/en .  Additional information is also available from the USPTO IP Attaché in Brazil: https://www.uspto.gov/ip-policy/ip-attache-program/regions/brazil .

Brunei

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Brunei has an open economy favorable to foreign trade and FDI as the government continues its economic diversification efforts to limit its long reliance on oil and gas exports.

FDI is important to Brunei as it plays a key role in the country’s economic and technological development. Brunei encourages FDI in the domestic economy through various investment incentives offered by the Ministry of Finance and Economy.

Improving Brunei’s Ease of Doing Business status by upgrading the domestic business regulatory environment through a whole-of-nation approach has been a priority for the government. The World Bank Ease of Doing Business report indicated that Brunei ranked 66th overall out of 190 world economies in 2019. Brunei ranked first in the report’s “Getting Credit” category, tied with New Zealand, indicative of Brunei’s strong credit reporting mechanisms.

Brunei amended its laws to make it easier and quicker for entrepreneurs and investors to establish businesses. The Business License Act (Amendment) of 2016 exempts several business activities (eateries, boarding and lodging houses or other places of public resort; street vendors and stalls; motor vehicle dealers; petrol stations, including places for storing petrol and inflammable material; timber store and furniture factories; and retail shops and workshops) from needing to obtain a business license. The Miscellaneous License Act (Amendment) of 2015 reduced the wait times for new business registrants to start operations, with low-risk businesses like eateries and shops able to start operations immediately.

There is no restriction on foreign ownership of companies incorporated in Brunei. The Companies Act requires locally incorporated companies to have at least one of the two directors—or if more than two directors, at least two of them—to be residents of Brunei, but companies may request exceptions. The corporate income tax rate is the same whether the company is locally or foreign owned and managed.

All businesses in Brunei must be registered with the Registry of Companies and Business Names at the Ministry of Finance and Economy. Foreign investors can fully own incorporated companies, foreign company branches, or representative offices, but not sole proprietorships or partnerships. Brunei does maintain its right to screen investment to ensure that foreign investments do not contradict and cause negative impact to the overall National Development Plan and to the national interest.

More information on incorporation of companies can be found on the Ministry of Finance and Economy website .

The World Trade Organization (WTO) Secretariat prepared a Trade Policy Review of Brunei  in December 2014 and a revision in February 2015.

As part of Brunei’s effort to attract foreign investment, the government established the Brunei Economic Development Board (BEDB) and Darussalam Enterprise (DARe) as facilitating agents under the Ministry of Finance and Economy. These organizations work together to smooth the process of obtaining permits, approvals, and licenses. Facilitating services are now consolidated into one government website .

BEDB is the government’s frontline agency that promotes and facilitates foreign investment into Brunei. BEDB is responsible for evaluating investment proposals, liaising with government agencies, and obtaining project approval from the government’s Foreign Direct Investment and Downstream Industry Committee.

Outward Investment

A major share of outward investment is made by the government through its sovereign wealth funds, which are managed by the Brunei Investment Agency (BIA) under the Ministry of Finance and Economy. No data is available on the total investment amount due to a strict policy of secrecy. It is believed that the majority of sovereign wealth funds are invested in foreign portfolio investments and real estate. Despite the limited availability of public information regarding the amount, the funds are generally viewed positively and managed well by BIA.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Mortgages are recognized and enforced in Brunei; however, only Bruneian citizens can own land property in Brunei indefinitely. Foreigners and permanent residents can only own properties for up to 99 years. Brunei’s Department of Economic Planning and Development does not publish FDI data for real estate. Each transfer of ownership in Brunei requires the approval of “His Majesty in Council” which is a council of officials representing the Sultan. This process can be lengthy and opaque.

Brunei is considering amending the Land Code are being considered to ban past practices of proxy land sales to foreigners and permanent residents using power of attorney and trust deeds. The amendments to the Land Code have eliminated the recognition of powers of attorney and trust deeds as mechanisms in land transactions involving non-citizens. The government may grant temporary occupation permits over state land to applicants for licenses to occupy land for agricultural, commercial, housing or industrial purposes. These licenses are granted for renewable annual terms.

Brunei’s intellectual property rights (IPR) protection and enforcement regime is still in development but is increasingly strong and effective. The country was removed from the U.S. Trade Representative’s Special 301 report in 2013 in recognition of its improving IPR protections, increasing enforcement, and efforts to educate the public about the importance of IPR.

Brunei finalized and adopted the Copyright (Amendment) Order 2013 in December 2013, a development long requested by the U.S. government. The amendment enhanced enforcement provisions for copyright infringement by increasing the penalties for IP offenses; adding new offenses; strengthening the enforcement powers of the Royal Brunei Police Force and the Ministry of Finance and Economy’s Customs and Excise Department; and allowing for sanctioned private prosecution. The amendments are designed to deter copyright infringements with fines of BND 10,000 (USD7,400) to BND 20,000 (USD14,800) per infringing copy, imprisonment for a term up to five years, or both. Enforcement agencies are authorized to enter premises and arrest without warrant; to stop, search, and board vehicles; and to access computerized and digitized data. The amendments further allow for admissibility of evidence obtained covertly and protect the identity of informants. Statistics on seizures of counterfeit goods are unavailable.

Brunei established the Brunei Intellectual Property Office (BruIPO) in 2013 under the Attorney General’s Chambers. The establishment of BruIPO expanded the country’s Patents Registry Office’s (PRO) ability to accept applications for trademarks registration in addition to patents and industrial designs.

In September 2013, Brunei acceded to the Geneva (1999) Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs to protect IP from industrial designs, making it the second ASEAN Member country, following Singapore, to accede. The accession emphasized Brunei’s commitment under the ASEAN Intellectual Property Rights Action Plan 2011 – 2015. Brunei has also publicly committed to acceding to other World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) treaties including the Madrid Protocol for the International Registration of Marks, the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty

(WPPT), and the UPOV Convention 1991 for the protection of New Varieties of Plants (PV).

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/ 

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) 2020 $12.211 billion 2020 $12.006 billion www.worldbank.org/en/country
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2020 $2.6 million 2020 $11.0 million BEA data available at https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A N/A N/A No data available
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP 2020 $7.45 billion 2020 63.2% UNCTAD data available at

https://unctad.org/topic/investment/world-investment-report 

* Source for Host Country Data: Department of Economic Planning and Statistics, Ministry of Finance and Economy Brunei Darussalam 

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 (Not Available)
Total Inward 7,589 100% Total Outward Amount 100%
China 2,646 35% Country #1 Amount X%
United Kingdom 2,608 34% Country #2 Amount X%
The Netherlands 855 11% Country #3 Amount X%
Singapore 387 5% Country #4 Amount X%
Japan 259 3% Country #5 Amount X%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Source: IMF Coordinated Direct Investment Survey (2020)

Bulgaria

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment 

There are no legal limits on foreign ownership or control of firms. With some exceptions, foreign entities are given the same treatment as national firms and their investments are not screened or otherwise restricted.

The Invest Bulgaria Agency (IBA), the government’s investment attraction body, provides information, administrative services, and incentive assessments to prospective foreign investors. Its website (www.investbg.government.bg/en)  contains general information for foreign investors. IBA serves as a one-stop shop for foreign investors and certifies proposed investments for eligibility for administrative services.

There are no limits to foreign and domestic private entities establishing and owning businesses in Bulgaria. The Offshore Company Act lists 28 activities (including government procurement, natural resource exploitation, national park management, banking, insurance) in which companies registered in offshore jurisdictions with more than 10 percent foreign participation are banned from participating. The law, however, allows those companies to do business if the physical owners of the parent company are Bulgarian citizens and known to the public, if the parent company’s stock is publicly traded, or if the parent company is registered in a jurisdiction with which Bulgaria enjoys a bilateral tax treaty for the avoidance of double taxation (including the United States).

Bulgaria has no specific law or coordinated mechanism in place for screening individual foreign investments. A potential foreign investment can be scrutinized on the grounds of its potential national security risk or through the Law on the Measures against Money Laundering. As each ministry is responsible for screening investments within its purview, interagency coordination is lacking, and there are no common standards. As of April 2022, Bulgaria has not publicly reported any initiative on the introduction of a national investment screening mechanism.

There have been no recent Investment Policy Reviews of Bulgaria by multilateral economic organizations. An Investment Policy Review by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) is planned for 2022. In January 2022 the OECD decided to open accession discussions with Bulgaria. A key milestone toward Bulgaria’s overarching OECD Action Plan was its having joined the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA) in January 2021. In 2019, the OECD published reviews of Bulgaria’s healthcare sector and state-owned enterprises, and in January 2021 the OECD published an Economic Assessment in which it acknowledged the successful integration of Bulgarian manufacturing firms into global production chains and sound macroeconomic policies prior to the pandemic. At the same time the report highlighted as key policy challenges Bulgaria’s high income inequality, relative poverty, and an ageing and rapidly shrinking population. In February 2021 the OECD published a study of Bulgarian municipalities that acknowledged solid progress in local governance standards but also noted insufficient progress in bridging regional disparities.

Bulgaria typically supports small- and medium-sized business creation and development in conjunction with EU-funded innovation and competitiveness programs and with a special emphasis on export capacity. The state-owned Bulgarian Development Bank has committed to supporting small- and medium-sized businesses in Bulgaria, including through the post-COVID-19 recovery period. Typically, a new business is expected to register an account with the state social security agency and, in some cases, with the local municipality as well. Electronic company registration is available at: https:// portal.registryagency.bg/commercial-register . Women receive equitable treatment to men, and the Bulgarian law does not discriminate against minorities doing business.

There is no government agency for outward investment promotion, and no restrictions exist for local businesses to invest abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights 

Restrictions still exist on the ownership of agricultural land by non-EU citizens.  Companies whose shareholders are registered offshore are banned from acquiring or owning Bulgarian agricultural land.  Non-EU citizens who have resided in Bulgaria for at least five years or their Bulgaria-registered companies can acquire Bulgarian agricultural land.

Mortgages are recorded centrally with the Bulgarian Registry Agency, at registryagency.bg .

Bulgaria was taken off the USTR’s Special 301 Watch List in 2018, following passage of amendments to the Copyright Law, improvements in royalty collection, and government procurement of licensed software. However, high levels of online piracy continue to exist, and IP enforcement and prosecution efforts continue to be areas of concern.

The 2021 Notorious Markets Report lists two online providers of pirated content which operate from Bulgaria.

Bulgaria is a member of the Convention on Granting of European Patents (European Patent Convention) and a contracting state of the European Patent Office (EPO). Bulgaria has also signed the London agreement for facilitating the validation process but has yet to amend its own law accordingly. Bulgaria is also part of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT).

Bulgaria is a member of the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration.  Bulgaria enforces EU legislation for protecting geographical indications (GIs) and Traditional Specialties Guaranteed (TSG).  A 2019 Law on Marks and Geographical Indications updated procedures for trademark registration. The law introduced response deadlines as short as three days.

Trademarks and service marks are protected via registration with the Bulgarian Patent Office, or registration as a European Union Trademark, or an international registration under the Madrid Agreement and the Madrid Protocol that designates Bulgaria. A trademark is normally granted within ten months of application filing. Pending applications are published to allow for objections. Rejections can be appealed to the Patent Office’s Disputes Department. Decisions of this department can be appealed to the Sofia Administrative Court within three months.

The Bulgarian law on patents and utility model registrations is harmonized with EU law.  The latest amendments in the law provide for new electronic state registers on patents and utility models and services. The state registers are public and available on the website of the Patent Office.

Trademark infringement is a significant problem in Bulgaria for U.S. cigarette and apparel producers, and smaller-scale infringement affects other U.S. products. Bulgarian legislation provides for criminal, civil, and administrative remedies against trademark violation. Bulgaria has implemented simplified border control procedures for the destruction of seized fake goods without civil or criminal trial.  In addition to civil penalties prescribed by the Trademarks and Geographical Indications Act (TGIA), the Criminal Code prohibits the use of a third person’s trademark without the proprietor’s consent.  In practice, criminal convictions for trademark and copyright infringement are rare and sentencing tends to be lenient.  Legal entities cannot be held liable under the Criminal Code.

A 2019 law on trade secret protection allows for civil action for trade secret infringement. There is no special court for cases related to trade secrets.

Bulgarian customs maintain a section on its official web site customs.bg instructing rightsholders of the procedure for filing IPR infringement cases. In 2021, the main countries of origin of counterfeit goods were Turkey, China, and Hong Kong. The most frequently confiscated goods were clothing, perfumes and cosmetics, shoes, toys, bags, and wallets.

Online and broadcast piracy remain an enforcement issue in Bulgaria. While the cybercrime unit at the General Directorate for Combating Organized Crime (GDBOP) is generally responsive to reports of online copyright infringements, investigation of other computer-based IPR crimes is slow, and few result in criminal convictions.

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

Burkina Faso

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Following the 2020 reelection of former President Kabore for his second term, a new national socioeconomic development plan (PNDES-II, 2021-2025) was adopted to replace a previous plan (2016-2020). The plan covered four strategic goals: (1) the consolidation of resilience, security, social cohesion, and peace, (2) the deepening of institutional reforms and modernization of public administration, (3) improving sustainable human development, and (4) promoting high impact sectors of the economy and jobs. However, it remains unclear how PNDES II will be impacted by the January 24 coup d’état.

After overthrowing the government on January 24, 2022, LTC Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba met with the private sector on February 1 to allay the concerns of the business community and other investors. A Transitional legislative assembly, a transitional government and a transitional charter and agenda were adopted on March 1, 2022, for a 36-month transition that would lead to presidential and legislative elections. However, in an April 1 address to the nation, interim president LTC Damiba indicated that the 36-month transition timeline to democracy could be revised, should the security situation improve.

In a speech to the Transitional Legislative Assembly on April 04, 2022, Prime Minister (PM) Albert Ouedraogo laid out four major pillars or priorities for his government: (1) fighting terrorism and restoring territorial integrity, (2) Responding to the humanitarian crisis, (3) refoundation (or restoration) of the state and improving governance, (4) working towards national reconciliation and social cohesion. PM Ouedraogo indicated plans for a new development plan for the transition period that would incorporate major strategic projects from the PNDES II.

Article 8 of the investment code stipulates that there is to be no discrimination against foreign investors. For any foreign investor to benefit from the exemptions provided for by the investment code, it is required to submit a request to the General Directorate for the Promotion of the Private Sector.

Burkina Faso hosts a certain number of trade fairs and exhibitions to attract foreign investments. These initiatives encompass several sectors, including the bi-annual International Cotton and Textile Fair (SICOT), the annual West Africa Mining Activities Week (SAMAO), the bi-annual Ouagadougou International Arts and Crafts Fair (SIAO) and the bi-annual Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO). SICOT—which was supposed to place on January 27-29 but was postponed due to the coup d’état—convenes cotton sector actors to advance the cotton value chain in Burkina Faso, Africa and globally. SICOT aspires to be the international forum for promoting African cotton by marketing the sector to the world, promoting industrial processing, attracting investment, and boosting industrial cotton production. Burkina Faso is the third largest producer of cotton in Africa, producing 518,545 tons in the 2021-2022 harvest. Burkina Faso also organizes the Burkina Economic days (JEB) to engage potential investors and foster mutually beneficial partnership opportunities. Previous JEB events have been held in Ouagadougou and across the world, including Canada, Paris, Vienna, and Seoul, among others.

Burkina Faso is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Corporate Law in Africa (OHCLA). All the Uniform Acts enacted by this organization are applicable in the country. Regarding business structures, OHCLA allows most forms of companies admissible under French business law, namely public corporations, limited liability companies, limited share partnerships, sole proprietorships, subsidiaries, and affiliates of foreign enterprises. Each kind of company has a corresponding set of related preferences, duty exceptions, corporate tax exemptions, and operation-related taxes.

From 1995 to 2018, Law 062-95, which was amended several times, governed investments in Burkina Faso. However, to adapt this code to the new exigencies of the world economy and to respond to the fierce competition between states to attract foreign investment, the National Assembly adopted a new Investment Code (Law 038) on October 30, 2018. It replaces Law 062-95 of December 14, 1995, which had several shortcomings, including the non-coverage of investments in renewable energies and other energy sources. According to Article 5 of the Investment Code, certain sectors of activity may be subject to restrictions on foreign direct investment. Foreign companies wishing to invest in these sectors must follow a specific procedure specified by decree. However, Burkina Faso has not yet established a procedure to scrutinize foreign direct investment. Under the investment code, all personal and legal entities lawfully established in Burkina Faso, both local and foreign, are entitled to the following rights: fixed property; forest and industrial rights; concessions; administrative authorizations; access to permits; and participation in government procurement process.

The Investment Code establishes a special tax and customs regime for investment agreements signed by the state with large investors—from approximately US$ 162,000 (100,000,000 FCFA) to $1.62 million (1,000,000,000 FCFA). This scheme provides significant tax benefits. U.S. investors are not specifically targeted regarding ownership or control mechanisms.

In March 2013, the GoBF created the Burkina Faso Investment Promotion Agency (API-BF). The establishment of the Presidential Council fulfilled recommendations of a 2009 UNCTAD Investment Policy Review. The website is www.investburkina.com .

To simplify the registration process for companies wishing to establish a presence in Burkina Faso, the government created eight enterprise registration centers called Centres de Formalités des Entreprises (CEFOREs). The CEFOREs are one-stop shops for company registration. On average, a company can register its business in nine days according to the 2019 Doing Business report. The CEFOREs are in Ouagadougou, Bobo-Dioulasso, Ouahigouya, Tenkodogo, Koudougou, Fada N’Gourma, Kaya, Dedougou and Gaoua.

In 2018, Burkina Faso strengthened protections for minority investors by enhancing access to shareholder actions and by increasing disclosure requirements on related-party transactions. The 2020 Doing Business report ranked Burkina Faso 151 of 190 in minority investor protection.

Other sites of interest:

Among the 21 countries covered by the World Bank’s Investing across Sectors indicators in Sub-Saharan Africa, Burkina Faso is one of the more open economies to foreign equity ownership. Most of its sectors are fully open to foreign capital participation, although the law requires companies providing mobile or wireless communication services to have at least one domestic shareholder. Furthermore, the state automatically owns 10 percent of the shares of all companies active in the mining sector. The government is entitled to nominate one member of the board of directors for such companies. Select additional strategic sectors the oil and gas sector, and the electricity transmission and distribution sectors, are characterized by monopolistic market structures.

The Burkinabe Government tries to promote inward investment via the Investment Promotion Agency of Burkina Faso or l’Agence de Promotion des Investissements du Burkina Faso (API-BF), which sits under the Presidential Council for Investment (Conseil Presidentiel pour l’Investissement). The API-BF’s mission is to promote the economic potential of Burkina Faso to attract investment and spur economic development. Burkina Faso currently imposes no restrictions for investors interested in investing abroad, within the framework of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) regional markets.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Since the 2009 land tenure reform law, the government of Burkina Faso has been engaged to issue titles recognizing land ownership rights. The MCC’s first compact focused on beginning this process in 47 communes, with plans for the government to expand the effort throughout the country.

Only about 5,000 land titles have been granted countrywide since 1960, according to the National Land Observatory, and the majority of those were issued pursuant to the first Millennium Challenge compact. Obtaining a title is the last step in the process of land acquisition and is preceded by obtaining a use permit or an urban dwelling permit, developing the land, and paying applicable fees. The titleholder becomes the owner of the surface and the subsoil.

Mortgages exist in Burkina Faso both for land and for structures. Rules governing mortgages are set at the regional level by the West African Economic and Monetary Union, specifically under the Organization for the Synchronization of Business Rights in Africa (Organisation pour l’Harmonisation en Afrique des Droits des Affaires (OHADA). Liens are not widely used.

Burkina Faso’s legal system offers protection for intellectual property rights (IPR), including patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and semiconductor chip design. In practice, however, government enforcement of IPR law is lax. Burkina Faso is a destination point for counterfeit medicines, which can be purchased readily in Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso.

Burkina Faso is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the African Intellectual Property Organization (AIPO). The national investment code guarantees foreign investors the same rights and protection as Burkinabe enterprises for trademarks, patent rights, labels, copyrights, and licenses. In 1999, the government ratified both the WIPO Copyrights Treaty (WCT) and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty (WPPT). In 2002, Burkina Faso was one of 30 countries that put the WCT and WPPT treaties into force. The government has also issued several decrees and rules to implement the two treaties.

The implementation of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) is under the purview of two ministries. The first is the Office of Copyrights (le Bureau Burkinabe des Droits d’Auteurs, or BBDA) under the Ministry of Art, Culture and Tourism, which has the lead for copyright and related rights. The National Directorate of Industrial Property under the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Handicrafts has the lead for industrial property issues. These two authorities have the technical competence to identify needs. Arrangements are underway to assess the needs for the implementation of the TRIPS Agreement in Burkina Faso.

Statistics on the seizure of counterfeit goods are available upon request from the relevant agency. For example, the BDDA tracks seizures pertaining to artistic material, and the National Directorate of Industrial Property tracks seizures pertaining to pharmaceuticals.

Burkina Faso is not cited in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Reports or the Notorious Markets List.

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 2021 $19.2 Billion https://www.imf.org/en/Countries/BFA#countrydata
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A N/A N/A 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 2021 0.03% UNCTAD data available at

https://unctad.org/en/Pages/DIAE/World%20Investment%20Report/Country-Fact-Sheets.aspx  

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Data not available.

Burma

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Although the military regime has told investors and foreign chambers of commerce it welcomes foreign investment, its actions have undercut pre-coup efforts to improve the enabling environment for investment. A number of foreign investors have withdrawn from the market, evacuated foreign national employees, or suspended their operations in Burma.

The 2016 Myanmar Investment Law (MIL) and the 2018 Companies Law continue to govern treatment of foreign investment. The MIL includes a “negative list” of prohibited and restricted sectors for foreign investment. The Companies Law implemented August 1, 2018, permits foreign investment of up to 35 percent in domestic companies— which also opened the stock exchange to limited foreign participation.

The Directorate for Investment and Company Administration (DICA), which is part of the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations (MIFER), serves as Burma’s investment promotion agency. However, following the coup, the regime named former military major Aung Naing Oo to lead the Ministry and he terminated staff he deemed unsupportive of the regime. DICA as a consequence has limited operations because of staff boycotts and firings. Previously, DICA encouraged and facilitated foreign investment by providing information, fostering networks between investors, and providing market advice to potential investors.

The regime maintains a private sector advisory forum with the Union of Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which principally includes domestic businesses. However, military authorities have summoned business leaders for command appearances rather than to conduct voluntary consultations. The U.S. Trade Representative suspended the U.S.-Myanmar Trade and Investment Framework in March 2021. Foreign Chambers of Commerce have limited interactions with the military regime following the coup, mainly by issuing letters of protest to regime economic policies that undermine the private sector. Regime-controlled media regularly praises PRC and Russian business cooperation.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Generally, foreign and domestic private entities have the right to establish and own business enterprises and engage in remunerative activity with some sectoral exceptions. Under Article 42 of the Myanmar Investment Law, the Burmese government restricts investment in certain sectors. Some sectors are only open to government or domestic investors. Other sectors require foreign investors to set up a joint-venture with a citizen of Burma or citizen-owned entity or obtain a recommendation from the relevant ministries.

The State-Owned Economic Enterprises Law, enacted in March 1989, stipulates that SOEs have the sole right to carry out a range of economic activities in certain sectors, including teak extraction, oil and gas, banking and insurance, and electricity generation. However, in practice many of these areas have been opened to private sector investment. For instance, the 2016 Rail Transportation Enterprise Law allows foreign and local businesses to make certain investments in railways, including in the form of public-private partnerships.

The Myanmar Investment Commission (MIC), “in the interest of the State,” can also make exceptions to the State-Owned Enterprises Law. The MIC has routinely granted exceptions, including through joint ventures or special licenses in the areas of insurance, mining, petroleum and natural gas extraction, telecommunications, radio and television broadcasting, and air transport services, although whether such exceptions will continue to be granted after the coup is unclear.

As one of their key functions, DICA and the MIC are responsible for screening and approving inbound foreign investment to ensure it does not pose a risk to national security, as well as to determine if the investment furthers Burma’s growth and development. However, since the coup, the military regime has independently approved many foreign investments, including electricity generation projects, for example, that were not submitted to the DICA or MIC.

The regime frequently favors regime-owned or affiliated businesses as well as those run by cronies.

In 2020, the OECD conducted an investment review for Myanmar, which can be found at http://www.oecd.org/investment/countryreviews.htm 

In February 2021, the World Trade Organization produced a trade policy review for Myanmar based on pre-coup information, which can be found at http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tpr_e.htm 

Following the coup, the military regime’s approach to governance has caused a sharp reduction in commercial activities including in Yangon and Mandalay. Many routine services that businesses require like customs, ports, and banks were not fully operational as of April 2022. Many companies report difficulty accessing bank funds to pay employees and suppliers, and there is limited foreign and local currency available. The security situation is volatile and unpredictable, and some companies’ local staff have been killed by security forces and foreign-owned factories have been burned. The civilian government previously provided limited business facilitation services through DICA, but services are restricted at present.

The previous civilian government instituted online company registration through “MyCo” ( https://www.myco.dica.gov.mm ). Investors were able to submit forms, pay registration fees, and check availability of a company name through a searchable company registry on the “MyCo” website. However, military regime officials have publicly threatened to take down the company registration website so it may not continue to operate, and military-imposed restrictions on internet and mobile access limit businesses’ ability to access this website.

The MIC is responsible for verification and approval of investment proposals above USD5 million. Companies can use the DICA website to retrieve information on requirements for MIC permit applications and submit a proposal to the MIC. If the proposal meets the criteria, it is supposed to be accepted within 15 days. If accepted, the MIC will review the proposal and is supposed to reach a decision within 90 days. In 2016, state and regional investment committees were granted the right to approve any investment of less than USD5 million. The World Bank assessed pre-coup that it takes on average seven days to start a business in Burma involving six procedures. Following the coup, it is likely to take substantially longer to register a business because of the suspension of many government services, bank closures, and internet access restrictions and suspensions. Post-coup, the MIC has approved several pending investment applications. According to DICA data, the number of new companies registered has declined 87 percent in the last 12 months compared to the year earlier.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Property rights and interests are not consistently enforced. Land disputes involving foreign investments are common and land titling is opaque. Mortgages and liens exist, but there is not a reliable recording system.

The Myanmar Investment Law provides that any foreign investor may enter into long-term leases with private landlords or – in the case of state-owned land – the relevant government departments or government organizations, if the investor has obtained a permit or endorsement issued by the MIC. Upon issuance of a permit or an endorsement, a foreign investor may enter into leases with an initial term of up to 50 years (with the possibility to extend for two additional terms of ten years each). The MIC may allow longer periods of land utilization or land leases to promote the development of difficult-to-access regions with lower development.

The 2016 Condominium Law allows for up to 40 percent of condominium units of “saleable floor area” to be sold to foreign buyers.

In accordance with the Transfer of Immovable Property Restriction Law of 1987, mortgages of immovable property are prohibited if the mortgage holder is a foreigner, foreign company, or foreign bank.

In September 2018, the Burmese government amended the Vacant, Fallow, and Virgin Lands Management Law and required occupants of these lands to register at the nearest land records office within a six-month period. The six-month deadline was intended to offer clear title to lands for investment and infrastructure construction. However, controversy exists over which lands have been designated as vacant, fallow or virgin, and whether the notification or registration period was sufficient.

A continuing area of concern for foreign investors is investments involving large-scale land projects. Property rights for large plots of land for investment commonly are disputed because ownership is not well established, particularly following a half-century of military expropriations. It is not uncommon for foreign firms to face complaints and protests from local communities about inadequate consultation and compensation regarding land.

In practice because of opaque land titling and unclear ownership, squatters de facto are permitted to use land that is unoccupied or land where ownership is contested or where they have an established history of living on that property.

Prior to the coup, Burma had expanded its legal intellectual property protections, but enforcement was limited. Burma’s Parliament passed four intellectual property laws in 2019 – the Trademark Law, Industrial Design Law, Patent Law, and Copyright Law.

Burma does not maintain publicly available data on seizures of counterfeit goods, although occasionally the government will announce seizures of counterfeit goods in government media or previously on Facebook government accounts. The Myanmar Police Force’s Criminal Investigative Department (CID) investigates and seizes counterfeit goods, including brands, documents, gold, products, and money, but not medicines. The CID currently does not record the value of the amount seized.

Burma is not listed in the USTR’s Special 301 report or the notorious market report.

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/ .

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) 2020 $76.19 billion 2021 N/A www.worldbank.org/en/country
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2020 N/A 2021 N/A BEA data available at https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) 2019 -$1 million 2020 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 2020 44.3% 2021 N/A UNCTAD data available at

https://unctad.org/topic/investment/world-investment-report 

* Source for Host Country Data

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Data not available.

Burundi

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

The Government of Burundi (GoB) is generally supportive of FDI and seeks investments to promote economic growth.  During the reporting period, the GoB implemented new laws and regulations, including a revised June 2021 investment code (last updated in 2008), and the first national industrialization policy and its accompanying implementation strategy.  These regulations offer the same advantages to both Burundian and foreign investors.  The regulations also raised the minimum investment amounts to be eligible for certain benefits in the investment code from $50,000 to $500,000 for all investors, with the stated purpose of attracting only quality investments that will create decent jobs.  Industry experts believe the new investment regulations will boost development of the industrial sector, which so far contributes only about 17 percent of GDP.  An overview of the legal framework for foreign investment can be found at: https://www.investburundi.bi/index.php/espace-medias1/publications/depliants-et-brochures

Along with the new investment code, the Burundi Development Agency (ADB) officially replaced the Investment Promotion Agency (API). The ADB has taken over all the missions of the API and is currently the only entry portal and interlocutor for all investors looking for business opportunities in Burundi.  The ADB is the government authority responsible for promoting investment, improving the business climate, and facilitating market entry for investors in Burundi.  ADB offers a range of services to potential investors, including assistance in acquiring the licenses, certificates, approvals, authorizations, and permits required by law to set up and operate a business enterprise in Burundi. ADB has set up a “one-stop shop” to facilitate and simplify business registration in Burundi, although investors must be physically present in country to register with ADB.  ADB is also tasked with providing investors with information on investment and export promotion, assisting them with legal formalities, including obtaining the required documents, and intervening when laws and regulations are not properly applied.  While ADB is the initial and primary point of entry for investors, relevant government ministries also regularly meet with private investors to discuss regulatory and legal issues.

Foreign and domestic companies have the same rights to establish and own businesses in the country and engage in all forms of activities.  However, there are restrictions on foreign investments in weaponry, ammunition, and any sort of military or para-military enterprises.  There are no other restrictions nor are there any other sectors in which foreign investors are denied the same treatment as domestic firms.  There are no general limits on foreign ownership or control.

Article 63 of the 2013 mining code stipulates that the GoB must own at least 10 percent of shares in any foreign company with an industrial mining license and state participation cannot be diluted in the event of an increase in the share capital.

Burundi does not maintain an investment screening mechanism for inbound foreign investment.

No investment policy review from a multilateral organization has taken place in the last three years.  The most recent review was performed in 2010 by UNCTAD.

In addition to fiscal advantages provided in the new investment code, Burundi has approved reforms designed to improve ease of doing business, including reinforcing the capabilities of the one-stop shop at ADB, simplifying tax procedures for small and medium enterprises, reducing the time and cost of registering a business (about four hours at the cost of approximately $21), launching an electronic single window for business transactions, and harmonizing commercial laws within the East African Community.  For more details and information on registration procedures, deadlines and costs, investors can visit the ADB at https://www.investburundi.bi/.

The ADB is also responsible for assisting investors in obtaining entry visas, work permits and operating licenses, connections to water and electricity, amicable resolution of disputes between investors and state-owned entities, as well as any other related appropriate assistance.

During the reporting period, the ADB indicates it assisted registering more than 4,000 Burundian companies, certified eight foreign investors with a capital of more than $25 million and granted 21 certificates of eligibility for the advantages provided in the 2021 investment code to investors with a combined capital of more than $170 million.  ADB reports the companies created and during the rating period have already invested more than $85 million in Burundi and have created more than 2,327 jobs.

There is no specific mechanism for ensuring equitable treatment of women and underrepresented minorities.

The host government does not have mechanisms for promoting or incentivizing outward investment.  The host government does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Secured interests in both real and movable property are nominally recognized under Burundian law.  The Burundi land code, adopted in 2011, recognizes the right to property and protection for Burundians and for foreigners.  Foreigners enjoy the same rights and protection as nationals, subject to the principle of reciprocity.  The state can give property to foreigners for industrial, commercial, and cultural use, and can rent them out, but full ownership is reserved for Burundians.

Land titling in Burundi has historically been a lengthy, opaque, and centralized process.  The Land Titles Service registers real estate and security instruments, such as mortgages.  Property titles are accepted as a guarantee by commercial banks, but documents for properties located outside the capital city of Bujumbura are less readily accepted because of conflicts and crime related to land disputes in rural areas (more than 80 percent of criminal court cases are related to conflicts over land).

The legal system and the investment code do not differentiate between local and foreign investors regarding land acquisition or lease.  However, the possibility for land acquisition is based on reciprocity between Burundi and the investor’s home country.

When a property has been legally purchased, it cannot be legally confiscated by the state except when it is the subject of an expropriation procedure in accordance with legal and regulatory procedures.

Burundi has adopted the 1995 World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of International Property Rights (TRIPS), which introduced global minimum standards for the protection and enforcement of virtually all intellectual property rights (IPR).  The legal system and the investment code aim to protect and facilitate the acquisition and disposition of all property rights, including IPR.  The law also guarantees protection for patents, copyrights, and trademarks.  However, there is no record of enforcement action on IPR infringement violations.  No IPR-related law has been enacted during the past year and no bills are pending.

Agents of Burundian institutions in charge of the fight against piracy and counterfeiting (Burundian Revenue Office, Ministries of Trade and Public Health) have already benefited from various sources of support in terms of capacity building on industrial property rights and the fight against piracy and counterfeiting on the part of multilateral partners, but these institutions lack modern tools for detecting counterfeits.  Although these institutions have already committed themselves to carrying out reforms in this sector (a multisectoral committee responsible for promoting procedures to combat counterfeiting and piracy and monitoring has been set up), they still need to set up a database of recognized trademarks, in which all the information on trademarks registered at customs is compiled and to require this procedure for all companies or representatives of multinationals to be effective.

For now, the Burundi Bureau of Standardization (BBN) is the state authority responsible for monitoring the quality of consumer products on the market; however, this Bureau lacks the necessary expertise and resources to be effective.  Counterfeiters who are apprehended are fined and their products are seized.  There are no statistics available on seizures of counterfeit goods. Burundi is not listed in the United States 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 http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/.

Cabo Verde

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Cabo Verde seeks both domestic and foreign investment to drive economic recovery, diversification, and growth following the COVID-19 crisis. The government’s Ambition 2030 strategy emphasizes development of sustainable tourism, transformation of the country into a transportation and logistics platform, renewable energy, blue and digital economy, and export-oriented industries. The government promotes a market-oriented economic model under which all investors, regardless of nationality, have the same rights and are subject to the same duties and obligations under the law. Improving the business climate to attract investment remains an economic priority, as does reducing the state’s role in the economy, though the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed back plans to privatize state-owned enterprises.

In 2021, approved investment projects reached an all-time high of USD 1.9 billion, confirming continued investor confidence in Cabo Verde despite pandemic uncertainties. Foreign investment continues to be concentrated in tourism and light manufacturing. In 2021, over 98 percent of the approved investment projects were in the tourism sector.

Cabo Verdean law offers tax benefits and grants permanent residence to foreign citizens with an investment exceeding 180 million escudos (USD 2 million). In December 2021, the government approved creation of a permanent residence permit for foreigners who own second homes in Cabo Verde. The new law also allows for exemption from excise duties on assets. The legal framework establishes conditions for investment in the country by Cabo Verdean emigrants, including fiscal incentives.

Investment promotion agency Cabo Verde TradeInvest (CVTI) is a one-stop shop for all investors. Through CVTI, the government maintains dialogue with investors using personalized and virtual meetings, round tables, conferences, and workshops. CVTI offers investors a “One-Stop Shop for Investments” electronic platform and help in formalizing expressions of interest and monitoring the investment process. It also provides investors and exporters information about trade agreements and benefits (including those related to the U.S. African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and Cabo Verde’s membership in the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)), market information, details on trade fairs and events, and contacts with other state institutions and potential partners. In addition, CVTI can assist with securing authorizations and licensing, tax and customs incentives, work permits for foreign workers, visas for company workers, social security registration for workers, and introductions to service providers, such as banks, lawyers, accountants, and real estate agents.

For investments of less than USD 500,000, government entities Pro-Empresa and the Casa do Cidadao (Commercial Registry Department) provide similar services.

The International Business Center (Centro Internacional de Negocios – CIN) provides tax and customs benefits for companies that do international business, with the aim of promoting, supporting, and strengthening the emergence of new industrial, commercial, and service provision activities in Cabo Verde.

The Investment Law applies to both foreign and domestic investors, and it enshrines the principle of freedom of investment regardless of nationality. However, sector-specific legislation requires that foreign operators have at least 51 percent participation from Cabo Verdean partners in the fisheries sector and at least 25 percent in interisland maritime transport. The Investment Law further protects against direct and indirect expropriation. Private property is protected from unilateral requisition and nationalization, except for public interest reasons, in accordance with the law and the principle of non-discrimination, subject to prompt, full, and fair compensation.

An approval process serves as a screening mechanism for inbound foreign investment. The process begins with submission of a formal expression of interest to investment promotion agency Cabo Verde TradeInvest in accordance with the Investment Law. Relevant government entities (depending on the sector and of the nature of the investment) then conduct an integrated review of the investment project and provide an opinion. If the opinion is favorable, Cabo Verde TradeInvest, in coordination with relevant agencies, approves the project and issues an investor certificate no later than 45 days from the submission of interest. Tourism-related projects can obtain tourism utility status in addition to the certificate, and for investments considered of special national interest based on the volume of investment and number of jobs created, the government may offer exceptional fiscal and other incentives.

During 2018, the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) conducted an Investment Policy Review (IPR) at the request of the Government of Cabo Verde. The report contains strategic analysis on how Cabo Verde can utilize foreign direct investment (FDI) in the tourism sector to advance sustainable development objectives. https://unctad.org/en/pages/PublicationWebflyer.aspx?publicationid=2248 

In the last five years, civil society organizations have not conducted reviews of investment policy concerns.

Cabo Verde offers benefits to attract private-sector investment. Although equality of treatment and non-discrimination are granted to all investors, certain investment projects, given their nature or size, may receive special treatment and support from the government.

In an effort to reduce approval time for investment projects, the government has established a maximum period of 15 days for analysis and 30 days for approval of investment and export projects. In addition, Cabo Verde has adopted measures to facilitate and stimulate business activity, including lowering the maximum personal income tax (IRPS) one percentage point to 24 percent, eliminating double taxation, and waiving tax installment payments for taxpayers who had negative results or began their business activity in the previous year. Investments of at least 500 million escudos (USD 4.8 million) qualify for contractual benefits such as reduction of or exemption from customs and stamp duties, property taxes, and some other fiscal duties. Those investments that create a minimum number of jobs or expand into new strategic sectors qualify for a 50 percent investment credit, which can be deducted over 15 years.

The law commits the government to paying its bills within 45 days and interest on late payments to ensure predictability in the payment of the state’s obligations to companies. The 2021 budget prioritizes expenditures on assistance for families and support for companies and jobs in the context of the pandemic. It also includes benefits to attract private sector investments and improve the business environment.

Registering a company is straightforward. The Commercial Registry Department (Casa do Cidadao) is a one-stop shop where a company can be created and registered in less than a day. Information on business registration procedures is available at https://portondinosilhas.gov.cv/  and http://caboverde.eregulations.org/show-list.asp?l=pt&mid=1 . Step-by-step information on procedures, time, and cost involved in starting a company can be found at http://www.doingbusiness.org/data/exploreeconomies/cabo-verde/starting-a-business/ . The CVTI website also offers information on investing in Cabo Verde, including Cabo Verde’s Investment Law, the Code of Fiscal Benefits, and the Contractual Tax Benefits-Incentives: https://cvtradeinvest.com/ .

The government does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad. There is no data available on outward investments.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Access, use, and transfer of land and real estate are recognized under the constitution, Civil Code, and Legislative Decree 2/2007 (Land Law). Everyone, regardless of nationality, may acquire ownership rights or obtain special permits to occupy and use land.

A legal entity records secured interests in property. Ownership documents (Certidao de Registo Predial) are obtained through the land registry department, including an official map with the property’s exact location (Planta de Localizaçao). A tax information certificate (Certidao Matricial) is requested from the municipality.

If the property is unregistered, it is possible to register the property with a certificate confirming that the property is not registered in anyone else’s name (Certidao Negativa) and a tax certificate confirming status of property tax payment. Under its second Millennium Challenge Corporation compact, Cabo Verde finalized a land information management system for the country and clarified parcel rights and boundaries for the islands of Sal, Boa Vista, and Maio and rural and high-potential tourism zone parcels on the island of Sao Vicente.

Legislation on intellectual property rights (IPR) aligns with international standards. The legal framework has been revised in accordance with provisions of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) agreements and those of the WTO. The body responsible for standardization in Cabo Verde is the Institute of Quality and Intellectual Property (IGOPC), https://igqpi.cv/ .

Officially, the IGOPC protects against IP infringement, but enforcement capacity is limited due to resource constraints including inadequate digitalization (though online registration and search of trademarks were made available recently), judicial system capacity constraints, and lack of awareness of intellectual property rights among businesses and consumers.

Cabo Verde is a party to international copyright treaties. Cabo Verde is not listed in the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or the Notorious Market Report.

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/ .

Cambodia

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Cambodia has a liberal foreign investment regime and actively courts FDI. In 2021, the RGC enacted a new Law on Investment to attract more FDI in emerging sectors including agro-processing, electronics/machinery, health, industrial parts, infrastructure, and green energy. The government permits 100 percent foreign ownership of companies in most sectors. In a handful of sectors, such as cigarette manufacturing, movie production, rice milling, and gemstone mining and processing, foreign investment is subject to local equity participation or prior authorization from authorities.  While there is little or no official legal discrimination against foreign investors, some foreign businesses report disadvantages vis-a-vis Cambodian or other foreign rivals that engage in acts of corruption or tax evasion or take advantage of Cambodia’s weak regulatory environment.

The Council for the Development of Cambodia ( CDC ) is the principal government agency responsible for providing incentives to stimulate investment. Investors are required to submit an investment proposal to either the CDC or the Provincial-Municipal Investment Sub-committee to obtain a Qualified Investment Project (QIP) status depending on capital level and location of the investment in question.  QIPs are then eligible for specific investment incentives.

The CDC also serves as the secretariat to Cambodia’s Government-Private Sector Forum (G-PSF), a public-private consultation mechanism that facilitates dialogue within and among 10 government/private sector working groups.

Cambodia has created special economic zones (SEZs) to further facilitate foreign investment. As of 2021, there are 25 SEZs in Cambodia.  These zones provide companies with access to land, infrastructure, and services to facilitate the set-up and operation of businesses. Services provided include utilities, tax services, customs clearance, and other administrative services designed to support import-export processes. Cambodia offers incentives to projects within the SEZs such as tax holidays, zero rate VAT, and import duty exemptions for raw materials, machinery, and equipment. The primary authority responsible for Cambodia’s SEZs is the Cambodia Special Economic Zone Board (CSEZB). The largest of its SEZs is in Sihanoukville and hosts primarily Chinese companies.

There are few limitations on foreign control and ownership of business enterprises in Cambodia. Foreign investors may own 100 percent of investment projects except in the sectors mentioned above. According to Cambodia’s new Law on Investment and related sub-decrees, there are no limitations based on shareholder nationality nor discrimination against foreign investors except for land ownership as stipulated in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia.

For property, land title must be held by one or more Cambodian citizens.  For state-owned enterprises, the Law on Public Enterprise provides that the Cambodian government must directly or indirectly hold more than 51 percent of the capital or veto rights in state-owned enterprises.

For agriculture investments, foreign investors may request economic land concessions, if they meet certain criteria including provisions on land use, productivities, job creation, and environmental protection and natural resource management.

There are some limitations on the employment of foreigners in Cambodia. A QIP allows employers to obtain visas and work permits for foreign citizens as skilled workers, but the

employer may be required to prove to the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training that the skillset is not available among Cambodia workers. The Cambodian Bar has periodically taken actions to restrict or impede the work of foreign lawyers or foreign law firms in the country.

The OECD Investment Policy Review of Cambodia in 2018 is available at the following link .

The World Trade Organization (WTO) last reviewed Cambodia’s trade policies in 2017, which can be found at this link .

All businesses are required to register with the Ministry of Commerce (MOC), the General Department of Taxation (GDT), and the Ministry of Labor and Vocational Training (MOLVT).  Registration with MOC is possible through an online business registration portal at this link , while the GDT’s online portal is also available here .  To further facilitate the process, the Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) in 2020 launched the “ Single Portal ” – found at here , where businesses can register at the three ministries through a single online platform.

In addition, new businesses may also be required to register with other relevant ministries governing their sector and business activities. For example, travel agencies must also register with the Ministry of Tourism, and private universities must also register with the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sport.

There are no restrictions on Cambodian citizens investing abroad. Some Cambodian companies have invested in neighboring countries – notably, Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar.  Cambodia’s foreign direct investment abroad reached approximately $127 million in 2020.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Mortgages exist in Cambodia and Cambodian banks often require certificates of property ownership as collateral before approving loans. The mortgage recordation system, which is handled by private banks, is generally considered reliable.

Cambodia’s 2001 Land Law provides a framework for real property security and a system for recording titles and ownership. Land titles issued prior to the end of the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-79) are not recognized due to the severe dislocations that occurred during that period. The government is making efforts to accelerate the issuance of land titles, but in practice, the titling system is cumbersome, expensive, and subject to corruption. Most property owners lack documentation proving ownership. Even where title records exist, recognition of legal titles to land has not been uniform, and there are reports of court cases in which judges have sought additional proof of ownership.

Foreigners are constitutionally forbidden to own land in Cambodia; however, the 2001 Land Law allows long and short-term leases to foreigners. Cambodia also allows foreign ownership in multi-story buildings, such as condominiums, from the second floor up.

Infringement of intellectual property rights (IPR) is prevalent in Cambodia. Counterfeit apparel, footwear, cigarettes, alcohol, pharmaceuticals, and consumer goods, and pirated software, music, and books are some of the examples of IPR-infringing goods found in the country.

Though Cambodia is not a major center for the production or export of counterfeit or pirated materials, local businesses report that the problem is growing because of the lack of enforcement. To date, Cambodia has not been listed by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative in its annual Special 301 Report, which identifies trade barriers to U.S. companies due to the IPR environment.

To combat the trade in counterfeit goods, the Cambodian Counter Counterfeit Committee (CCCC) was established in 2014 under the Ministry of Interior to investigate claims, seize illegal goods, and prosecute counterfeiters. The Economic Police, Customs, the Cambodia Import-Export Inspection and Fraud Repression Directorate General, and the Ministry of Commerce also have IPR enforcement responsibilities; however, the division of responsibility among each agency is not clearly defined. This causes confusion to rights owners and muddles the overall IPR environment.  Though there has been an increase in the number of seizures of counterfeit goods in recent years, in general such actions are not taken unless a formal complaint is made.

In 2020, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office concluded a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Cambodia on accelerated patent recognition, creating a simplified procedure for U.S. patents to be registered in Cambodia. The patent recognition application form can be found at this link .

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see the World Intellectual Property Organization’s country profiles at this link .

Cameroon

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Creating a conducive business environment to attract foreign direct investments is a corner stone of Cameroon’s development strategy. Governance and strategic management of the state constitutes one of the four pillars of the 2020-2030 National Development Strategy 2030, which was launched November 2020. The Government of Cameroon acknowledges that the challenging nature of the domestic business climate remains a concern. To fight corruption, rebuild a weak legal system, and modernize an inefficient public service, the National Development Strategy has adopted a holistic approach to governance, which includes political and institutional governance, administrative governance, economic and financial governance, regional governance, and social and cultural governance.

Cameroon has put in place an arsenal of institutions and laws to improve governance. The government created the Special Crime Tribunal on corruption and economic crimes in 2012 to prosecute crimes related to the misappropriation of public funds of $100,000 or more. The Court specifically targets custodians of public funds as well as officials who have the authority to collect or spend money on behalf of the state. The Court reported it had tried 225 cases and recovered $323 million as of July 2020. Another institution, the Audit Bench of the Supreme Court, reports directly to the President and is charged with conducting audits and investigations of public funds. The National Anti-Corruption Commission also reports to the President and investigates corruption allegations. However, corruption and administrative mismanagement continue to hamper the business climate in Cameroon. Cameroon consistently ranks in the bottom half of the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (144 of 180 in 2021). In 2020, Cameroon ranked 167 of 190 on the Ease of Doing Business index.

Despite the active presence of state-owned companies in important sectors of the economy, private entities – both domestic and foreign – can create and own businesses that engage in all forms of legal remunerative activities. They can also enter joint ventures and public-private partnerships with the government.

The Cameroon Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA) was created in 2010 and is a state-owned entity with a mission of attracting investment to Cameroon in collaboration with other state institutions. The agency seeks also to foster an enabling environment for investments in Cameroon. As of 2021, CIPA had signed 172 investment agreements and generated the creation of over 60,000 jobs.

CIPA offers investment incentives covering existing and emerging economic sectors. The agency also serves as a one-stop-shop facilitator through the assistance it provides to foreign and domestic investors. It processes application files for approval in compliance with its investment charter and assists in the alignment of projects with the general tax code. It can support potential foreign investors for visa applications. The agency also follows up to monitor the implementation of commitments made by approved companies.

CIPA’s sector coverage

Cameroon Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA) Sector Coverage

Sources: National Institute of Statistics, IMF, estimates 2019-2020

The government maintains dialogue with business associations such as the Groupement Inter-Patronal du Cameroun (GICAM) and Enterprise Cameroon through the Cameroon Business Forum, which is sponsored by the World Bank. Over the past two years, GICAM has been critical of the government’s handling of the negative impacts of COVID-19 and global inflationary pressures on business.

There are no general economy-wide (statutory, de facto, or otherwise) limits on foreign ownership or control. Apart from the national defense and security areas, there are no sector-specific restrictions, limitations, or requirements applied to foreign ownership and control. Despite an active government presence in most sectors of the economy, private entities – both domestic and foreign – can create and own businesses that engage in all forms of legal remunerative activities. They can also enter joint ventures and public-private partnerships with the government.

Cameroon has no laws or regulations that expressly prohibit investment, equity caps, mandatory domestic joint venture partners, licensing restrictions, or mandatory intellectual property/technology transfer requirements. Cameroon has a screening process, which is applicable to all domestic and foreign investments.  This screening process ensures that investors meet the criteria, such as employment and export quantities, to qualify for private investment incentives.

The IMF approved a three-year, $689.5 million hybrid Extended Credit Facility-Extended Fund Facility arrangement in July 2021. The arrangements are built around five pillars: (i) mitigating the health, economic, and social consequences of the pandemic while ensuring domestic and external sustainability; (ii) reinforcing good governance and strengthening transparency and the anti-corruption framework; (iii) accelerating structural fiscal reforms to modernize tax and customs administrations, mobilize revenue, improve public financial management, increase public investment efficiency, and reduce fiscal risks from state-owned enterprises; (iv) strengthening debt management and reduce debt vulnerabilities; and (v) implementing structural reforms to accelerate economic diversification, boost financial sector resilience and inclusion, and promote gender equality and a greener economy. The IMF completed a First Review of the program on February 23, 2022 and found Cameroon’s overall program performance to be mixed. While macroeconomic performance is broadly satisfactory, and efforts to promote good governance and transparency are gaining momentum, progress on structural reforms is slow. Copies of the review can be found on the IMF website .

Civil society organizations and business associations have provided investment related policy recommendations. Following the introduction of an electronic payment tax, which includes mobile money, in the 2022 finance law, Cameroon’s largest business association GICAM noted “mobile money taxes can have a negative impact on excise tax receipts as consumers are pushed into non-traceable cash transactions, and on the size of remittances from abroad.” GICAM recommended the government enhance consumer purchasing power by reducing some taxes, reviewing remuneration policy, and amending its price regulation policies. Following reform proposals from the road transport syndicate on freight conditions on the Douala-Bangui Corridor, the government approved the construction of rest areas along the corridor as well as the reduction of police checkpoints in 2021.

Entrepreneurs obtain a unique tax identifying number when they open a company in Cameroon. Within 15 days after the registration for a new business, the Directorate General of Taxation issues a permanent taxpayer identification number, known as the Unique Identification Number (UIN).

According to the World Bank, it takes 14 procedures and 82 days to establish a foreign-owned limited liability company in Douala, Cameroon’s largest city and economic capital. This process is longer and more complex than regional and global averages. For foreign investors, a declaration of foreign investment to the Ministry of Finance is mandatory 30 days prior to the beginning of operations. In addition, if the company wants to engage in international trade, registration in the importers’ file is required to obtain an automated customs systems number (Système Douanier Automatisé, or “sydonia”). This number facilitates the entry and exit of goods produced by the company. The authentication of the parent company’s documentation abroad is required only to establish a subsidiary. Foreign-owned resident companies that wish to maintain foreign currency bank accounts must obtain prior approval. The Minister of Finance issues such authorization, which is subject to approval from the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) as per Section 24 of the exchange control regulations. This approval takes on average 38 days to obtain. There is a minimum paid-in capital requirement of CFA 1,000,000 (~$1,800) for establishing LLCs.

In Cameroon, business registration is most often manual, although the Ministry of Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises launched an electronic registration portal designed to automate the process at https://cameroun.eregistrations.org/ . Due to internet access challenges, the website is not always operational. To manually register, entrepreneurs must go to a Ministry of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises regional center for the creation of enterprises, which can complete the registration procedure within one week.

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

5. Protection of Property Rights

Property rights are recognized by law, but Cameroon’s weak judiciary makes enforcement sporadic. For mortgage transactions between two private parties, a proper contract is required for the agreement to be binding and enforceable in the courts. Liens must be recorded in the contract. A registry of land title exists in Cameroon. The land rights of indigenous peoples, tribes, and farmers are recognized in the Constitution. Existing legislation does not discriminate against foreign landowners.

Records from the Ministry of State Property and Land Tenure indicate that land registration rates have not significantly increased since colonial times.  Between 1884 and 2005, only 125,000 title deeds were issued.  On average, this represents approximately 1,000 titles per year, covering less than two percent of the land in Cameroon. In 2009, a study by the African Development Bank (AfDB) identified other distinctive patterns in land ownership. For example, formal land registration is more common in urban (60 percent) than in rural areas. According to the World Bank, the registration process can cost up to 13.7 percent of the property value.

Land disputes are common among Cameroonian citizens. The disputes are generally caused by non-respect of commercial sales contracts or by informal sales of land. Illegal occupations of property are also common. Globally, Cameroon ranked 175th out of 190 economies on the ease of registering property in the World Bank’s Doing Business Report 2020.

The legal structure for intellectual property rights (IPR) and corresponding enforcement mechanisms are weak.  IP infringement and theft are especially common in the media, pharmaceuticals, software, and print industries. To secure a trademark registration right, a Cameroonian attorney must prepare and file a trademark application with the African Organization for Intellectual Property (OAPI), which is headquartered in Yaoundé. The courts are responsible for enforcement.

There were no new IPR-related laws or regulations enacted during the previous year. The government seizes and publicly burns counterfeit goods. These actions are not documented systematically, and no cumulative data exist on the seizures. Cameroon is not listed 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/. 

Canada

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Canada actively encourages FDI and maintains a sound enabling environment. Investors are attracted to Canada’s proximity to the United States, highly skilled workforce, strong legal protections, and abundant natural resources. Once established, foreign-owned investments are treated equally to domestic investments. As of 2020, the United States had a stock of USD 422 billion of foreign direct investment in Canada. U.S. FDI stock in Canada represents 44 percent of Canada’s total investment. Canada’s FDI stock in the United States totaled USD 570 billion.

The USMCA modernizes the previous NAFTA investment protection rules and investor-state dispute settlement provisions. Parties to the USMCA agree to treat investors and investments of the other Parties in accordance with the highest international standards, and consistent with U.S. law and practice, while safeguarding each Party’s sovereignty and promoting domestic investment.

Invest in Canada is Canada’s investment attraction and promotion agency. It provides information and advice on doing business in Canada, strategic market intelligence on specific industries, site visits, and introductions to provincial, territorial, and municipal investment promotion agencies. Still, non-tariff barriers to trade across provinces and territories contribute to structural issues that have held back the productivity and competitiveness of Canada’s business sector.

Foreign investment in Canada is regulated under the provisions of the Investment Canada Act (ICA). U.S. FDI in Canada is also subject to the provisions of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the USMCA, and the NAFTA. The ICA mandates the review of significant foreign investments to ensure they provide an economic net benefit and do not harm national security.

Canada is not a party to the USMCA’s chapter on investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS). Ongoing NAFTA arbitrations are not affected by the USMCA, and investors can file new NAFTA claims by July 1, 2023, provided the investment(s) were “established or acquired” when NAFTA was still in force and remained “in existence” on the date the USMCA entered into force. An ISDS mechanism between the United States and Canada will cease following a three-year window for NAFTA-protected legacy investments.

The Canadian government announced revised ICA foreign investment screening guidelines on March 24, 2021. The revised guidelines include additional national security considerations such as sensitive technology areas, critical minerals, and sensitive personal data. The new guidelines are aligned with Innovation, Science, and Economic Development Canada’s April 2020 update on greater scrutiny for foreign investments by state-owned investors, as well as investments involving the supply of critical goods and services. The 2020-21 Investment Canada Act Annual Report (released February 2, 2022) indicated a record high 24 investments were subject either to formal national security review or heightened screening despite historically fewer total foreign investments in Canada due to COVID-19-related factors. In contrast, a total of 21 investments were subject to similar screening in the four years from 2016 to 2020. Still, some Canadian elected officials and national security experts assess national security standards should be heightened. The government is exploring proposed amendments to the National Security Review of Investments Regulations which would introduce a voluntary filing mechanism for investments by non-Canadians that do not require an application or a notification.

Foreign ownership limits apply to Canadian telecommunication, airline, banking, and cultural sectors. Telecommunication carriers, including internet service providers, that own and operate transmission facilities are subject to foreign investment restrictions if they hold a 10 percent or greater share of total Canadian communication annual market revenues as mandated by The Telecommunications Act. These investments require Canadian ownership of 80 percent of voting shares, Canadians holding 80 percent of director positions, and no indirect control by non-Canadians. If the company is a subsidiary, the parent corporation must be incorporated in Canada and Canadians must hold a minimum of 66.6 percent of the parent’s voting shares. Foreign ownership of Canadian airlines is limited to 49 percent with no individual non-Canadian able to control more than 25 percent by mandate of the 2018 Transportation Modernization Act. Canadian airlines cannot be directly or indirectly controlled by non-Canadians to meet Canadian Transportation Agency “control in fact” licensure requirements. Foreign banks can establish operations in Canada but are generally prohibited from accepting deposits of less than USD 112,000. Foreign banks must receive Department of Finance and the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) approval to enter the Canadian market. Investment in cultural industries also carries restrictions, including a provision under the ICA that foreign investment in book publishing and distribution must be compatible with Canada’s national cultural policies and be of net benefit to Canada.

The World Trade Organization conducted a trade policy review of Canada in 2019. The report is available at: https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp489_e.htm . The Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development completed an Economic Forecast Summary and released the results in December 2021. The report is available at: http://www.oecd.org/economy/canada-economic-snapshot/ .

Individuals from Canadian civil society organizations, industry, and academic institutions regularly comment on and assess investment policy-related concerns. In January and February 2022, for example, subject matter experts gave evidence to Canada’s House of Commons Standing Committee on Industry and Technology regarding an investment policy decision concerning a high-profile critical mineral sector investment.

The Canadian government provides information necessary for starting a business at: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/business/start.html . Business registration requires federal or provincial government-based incorporation, the application of a federal business number and corporation income tax account from the Canada Revenue Agency, the registration as an extra-provincial or extra-territorial corporation in all other Canadian jurisdictions of business operations, and the application of relevant permits and licenses. In some cases, registration for these accounts is streamlined (a business can receive its business number, tax accounts, and provincial registrations as part of the incorporation process); however, this is not true for all provinces and territories.

Canada prioritizes export promotion and outward investment as a means to enhance future Canadian competitiveness and productivity. Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service offers a number of funding opportunities and support programs for Canadian businesses to break into and expand in international markets: https://www.tradecommissioner.gc.ca/funding_support_programs-programmes_de_financement_de_soutien.aspx?lang=eng&wbdisable=true . Canada does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad except when recipient countries or businesses are designated under the government’s sanctions regime.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Foreign investors have full and fair access to Canada’s legal system, with private property rights limited only by the rights of governments to establish monopolies and to expropriate for public purposes. Investors under the USMCA have mechanisms available for dispute resolution regarding property expropriation by the Government of Canada. The recording system for mortgages and liens is reliable. Canada is ranked 36 out of 190 countries in the World Bank’s “Ease of Registering Property” 2020 rankings. Approximately 89 percent of Canada’s land area is government owned (Crown Land). Ownership is divided between by federal (41 percent) and provincial (48 percent) governments. The remaining 11 percent of Canadian land is privately owned.

British Columbia and Ontario tax foreign buyers of real property. In British Colombia, foreign buyers of real property in Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, the central Okanagan regional district, Nanaimo, and the Capital Regional District are taxed at 20 percent of the property’s fair market value. In 2018, British Columbia broadened taxation on foreign ownership in Metro Vancouver and enacted a 0.5 percent Speculation and Vacancy Tax, targeting vacant foreign-owned homes. In 2019, the British Colombia Ministry of Finance increased the tax to 2 percent. The tax includes foreign owners and satellite families defined as those who earn most of their income outside of Canada. In Ontario, non-resident buyers of real property are subject to a non-resident speculation tax (NRST) at 15 percent of the property’s fair market value. Ontario extended the NRST in 2022 to apply to real property throughout the province. In 2022, Nova Scotia began levying property taxes on non-residents of Nova Scotia. Residential properties owned by non-residents of Nova Scotia (with exceptions for multi-unit buildings and properties leased for at least twelve months) are subject to a two percent property tax. In addition, non-residents who buy property and do not move to Nova Scotia within six months of closing have to pay a transfer tax of five percent of the property’s value. A federal one percent tax on the value of non-resident, non-Canadian owned residential real estate considered to be vacant or underused is undergoing parliamentary review as of March 2022. In April 2022, the federal government announced a proposed two year ban on sales of residential properties to non-Canadian residents.

In terms of non-resident access to land, including farmland, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia have no restrictions on foreign ownership of land. Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Manitoba, Alberta, and Saskatchewan maintain measures aimed at prohibiting or limiting land acquisition by foreigners. The acreage limits vary by province, from as low as five acres in Prince Edward Island to as high as 40 acres in Manitoba. In certain cases, provincial authorities may grant exemptions from these limits, including for investment projects. In British Columbia, Crown land cannot be acquired by foreigners, while there are no restrictions on acquisition of other land.

Canada took significant steps to improve its intellectual property (IP) provisions when the USMCA came into force July 1, 2020, addressing areas with long-standing concerns, including full national treatment for copyright protections, transparency, and due process with respect to new geographical indications (GIs), more expansive trade secret protection, authority to seize counterfeit goods in transit to other countries, and enforcement measures in the digital environment. Canada must implement three additional provisions, including legislation to implement patent term adjustments to compensate for unreasonable patent prosecution delays by December 2024, legislation to extend copyright protections from 50 years to 70 years after the life of the author by December 2022, and accession to the Brussels Convention Relating to the Distribution of Program-Carrying Signals Transmitted by Satellite by July 2024. The Canadian courts have established meaningful penalties against circumvention devices and services. In 2019, Canada made positive reforms to the Copyright Board related to tariff-setting procedures for the use of copyrighted works, and efforts remain ongoing to implement those measures

Various challenges to IP protection in Canada remain despite this strong legal framework. Canadian IP enforcement of counterfeit and pirated goods at the border and within Canada remains limited. Canada’s system for providing patent term restoration for delays in obtaining marketing approval is also limited in duration, eligibility, and scope of protection. Canada’s ambiguous education-related exemption included in the 2012 copyright law undermines the market for educational publishers and authors.

Canada is on the 2022 Watch List in the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) Special 301 Report to Congress. The Pacific Mall located in Toronto, Ontario was listed in USTR’s 2021 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy.

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/ .

Chad

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

The GOC’s policies towards foreign direct investment (FDI) are generally positive. Chad’s laws and regulations encourage FDI, and there are few formal restrictions on foreign trade and investment. Under Chadian law, foreign and domestic entities may establish and own business enterprises.

The National Investment Charter of 2008 permits full foreign ownership of companies in Chad. The only limit on foreign control is on ownership of companies deemed related to national security. The National Investment Charter guarantees both foreign companies and individuals equal standing with Chadian companies and individuals in the privatization process. In principle, tenders for foreign investment in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and for government contracts are conducted through open international bid procedures. The National Investment Charter also offers incentives to certain foreign companies establishing significant operations in Chad, including up to five years of tax-exempt status.

Chad’s National Agency for Investment and Exports (ANIE, Agence Nationale des Investissements et des Exports), an agency of the Ministry of Industrial and Commercial Development & Private Sector Promotion, facilitates foreign investment. ANIE’s mandate is to contribute to the creation of a business environment that meets international standing, promote investment and exports, support the development of SMEs, and inform GOC decision makers about economic policy. ANIE acts as a one-stop shop for new investors.

Chad has demonstrated few signs of prioritizing investment retention or maintaining an ongoing dialogue with investors, such as through a formal business roundtable or Ombudsman. The Presidential Council for Improving the Investment Climate has met only twice since its 2021 establishment and is still working to clarify its work plan.

There are no limits on foreign ownership or control. There are no sector-specific restrictions that discriminate against market access for U.S. or other foreign investors, and no de facto anti-foreign discriminatory practices. In terms of investment screening mechanisms, the government reviews potential investment projects in a holistic and project-by-project way but has not made public any fixed criteria or standardized methodology.

UNCTAD published a French-language Investment Policy Review (IPR) on Chad in July 2019 ( https://investmentpolicy.unctad.org/publications/1212/investment-policy-review-of-chad ).

The World Trade Organization (WTO) published a joint trade policy review for Chad, Cameroon, Republic of Congo, Gabon, and Central African Republic in 2013 ( https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp385_e.htm ), and a standalone trade policy review for Chad in 2007 ( https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp275_e.htm ).

The OECD has not published any investment policy reviews of Chad.

Civil society groups have not shared useful reviews of investment policy-related concerns, though many Chadians at large have voiced concern about the negative effects of Chad’s onerous and lethargic tourist visa process as dissuading potential foreign investment, compared to other countries which boast inexpensive, hassle-free visas on arrival. To date, the government has shown little interest in addressing this common complaint. A Chamber of Commerce does exist, though has published little information regarding policy-related investment concerns.

Foreign businesses interested in investing in or establishing an office in Chad should contact ANIE, which offers a one-stop shop for filing the legal forms needed to start a business. The process officially takes 72 hours and is the most important legal requirement for investment. ANIE’s website ( www.anie-tchad.com ) provides additional information. An easy step to facilitate business (that the government has not taken) would be completing online business registration via the Global Enterprise Registration web site ( www.GER.co ) and the Business Facilitation Program ( www.businessfacilitation.org ). The World Bank estimated in 2019 that it took, on average, 58 days to start a business in Chad.

Contracts are tailored to each investment and often include additional incentives and concessions, such as permissions to import labor or agreements to work with specific local suppliers. Some contracts are confidential. Occasionally, government ministries attempt to change the terms of contracts or apply new laws broadly, even to companies that have pre-existing agreements that exempt them. Chad’s judicial system is weak, and rulings, including those relating to contract disputes, are susceptible to government interference. There is limited capacity within the judiciary to address commercial issues, including contract disputes. Frivolous lawsuits are expensive and difficult to resolve. Parties usually settle disputes directly or through arbitration provided by the Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Agriculture, Mining, and Crafts (CCIAMA) or through an outside entity, such as the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris.

The GOC does not offer any programs or incentives encouraging outward investment. The GOC does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

The Chadian Civil Code protects property rights. Since 2013, landowners may register land titles with the One-Stop Land Titling Office (Guichet Unique pour les Affaires Foncieres). However, enforcement of these rights is difficult because most landowners do not have a title or a deed for their property. In 2022, an effort by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to advise the government on a more systematic framework to approach property issues marked the first major effort in many years to address property rights conflicts.

The office of Domain and Registration (Direction de Domaine et Enregistrement) in the Ministry of Finance and Budget is responsible for recording property deeds and mortgages. In practice, this office asserts authority only in urban areas; rural property titles are managed by traditional leaders who apply customary law. Chadian courts frequently deal with cases of multiple or conflicting titles to the same property. A significant portion of the legal system’s bandwidth is involved in ongoing land disputes. In cases of multiple titles, the earliest title issued usually has precedence. Fraud is common in property transactions. By law, all land for which no title exists is owned by the government and can only be given to a separate entity by presidential decree. There have been incidents in which the government has reclaimed land for which individuals held titles, which government officials then granted to other individuals without the backing of presidential decrees.

The GOC does not provide clear definitions and protections of traditional use rights of indigenous peoples, tribes, or farmers.

Chad is a member of the African Intellectual Property Organization (OAPI) and the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). Chad ratified the revised Bangui Agreement (1999) in 2000 and the Berne Convention in 1971. The GOC adheres to OAPI rules within the constraints of its administrative capacity.

Within the ministry responsible for trade, the Department of Industrial Property and Technology addresses intellectual property rights (IPR) issues. This department is the National Liaison Unit (SNL) within the OAPI and is the designated point of contact under Article 69 of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).

Intellectual property violations are widespread. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals and pirated artistic works, such as music and films, are common in Chad. Imported counterfeit watches, athletic apparel, footwear, denim jeans, cosmetics, perfumes, and other goods are also readily available. Despite limited resources, Chadian customs officials make occasional efforts to enforce copyright laws, normally by seizing and burning counterfeit medicines, CDs, and mobile phones, though the government does not regularly track or report on seizures of counterfeit goods or on prosecution of IPR violations. Occasionally, Chadian authorities will, however, announce such a seizure in the local press. Customs officers have the authority to seize and destroy counterfeit goods ex officio. The government pays for storage and destruction of such goods. In 2021, the government did not enact any new intellectual policy laws or regulations.

Chad is not listed on the United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report or Notorious Markets List. For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ .

Chile

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Historically and for more than four decades, promoting FDI has been an essential part of the Chilean government’s national development strategy. The country’s market-oriented economic policy creates significant opportunities for foreign investors to participate. Laws and practices are not discriminatory against foreign investors, who receive treatment similar to Chilean nationals. Chile’s business climate is generally straightforward and transparent, and its policy framework has remained consistent despite developments such as civil unrest in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the permitting process for infrastructure, mining, and energy projects is contentious, especially regarding politically sensitive environmental impact assessments, water rights issues, and indigenous consultations. In July 2021, Chile began a constitutional reform process that is expected to produce a new constitution by July that Chileans will vote on whether to enact in September. Key issues under discussion through the Constitutional Assembly process include the political structure of the country, water rights, mining rights, environmental regulation, and the status of indigenous communities.

InvestChile is the government agency in charge of facilitating the entry and retention of FDI into Chile. It provides services related to investment attraction (information about investment opportunities); pre-investment (sector-specific advisory services, including legal); landing (access to certificates, funds and networks); and after-care (including assistance for exporting and re-investment).

Regarding government-investor dialogue, in May 2018, the Ministry of Economy created the Sustainable Projects Management Office (GPS). This agency provides support to investment projects, both domestic and foreign, serving as a first point of contact with the government and coordinating with different agencies in charge of evaluating investment projects, which aims to help resolve issues that emerge during the permitting process.

Foreign investors have access to all productive activities, except for the domestic maritime freight sector, in which foreign ownership of companies is capped at 49 percent. Maritime transportation between Chilean ports is open since 2019 to foreign cruise vessels with more than 400 passengers. Some international reciprocity restrictions exist for fishing.

Most enterprises in Chile may be 100 percent owned by foreigners. Chile only restricts the right to private ownership or establishment in what it defines as certain “strategic” sectors, such as nuclear energy and mining. The current Constitution establishes the “absolute, exclusive, inalienable and permanent domain” of the Chilean state over all mineral, hydrocarbon, and fossil fuel deposits within Chilean territory. However, Chilean law allows the government to grant concession rights and lease agreements to individuals and companies for exploration and exploitation activities, and to assign contracts to private investors, without discrimination against foreign investors. The Constitutional Assembly is reviewing proposals that if enacted could affect mining operations of foreign investors.

Chile has not implemented an investment screening mechanism to protect key national security priorities. FDI is subject to pro forma screening by InvestChile. Businesses in general do not consider these screening mechanisms as barriers to investment because approval procedures are expeditious, and investments are usually approved. Some transactions require an anti-trust review by the office of the national economic prosecutor (Fiscalía Nacional Económica) and possibly by sector-specific regulators.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has not conducted a Trade Policy Review for Chile since June 2015 (available here: https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp415_e.htm ). The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has not conducted an Investment Policy Review for Chile since 1997 (available here: http://www.oecd.org/daf/inv/investment-policy/34384328.pdf ), and the country is not part of the countries covered to date by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s (UNCTAD) Investment Policy Reviews.

The Chilean government took significant steps towards business facilitation during the past decade. Starting in 2018, the government introduced updated electronic and online systems for providing some tax information, complaints related to contract enforcement, and online registration of closed corporations (non-public corporations). In June 2019, the Ministry of Economy launched the Unified System for Permits (SUPER), a new online single-window platform that brings together 182 license and permit procedures, simplifying the process of obtaining permits for investment projects.

According to the World Bank, Chile has one of the shortest and smoothest processes among Latin American and Caribbean countries – 11 procedures and 29 days – to establish a foreign-owned limited liability company (LLC). Drafting statutes of a company and obtaining an authorization number can be done online at the platform HYPERLINK hError! Hyperlink reference not valid.. Electronic signature and invoicing allow foreign investors to register a company, obtain a tax payer ID number and get legal receipts, invoices, credit and debit notes, and accountant registries. A company typically needs to register with Chile’s Internal Revenue Service, obtain a business license from a municipality, and register either with the Institute of Occupational Safety (public) or with one of three private nonprofit entities that provide work-related accident insurance, which is mandatory for employers. In addition to the steps required of a domestic company, a foreign company establishing a subsidiary in Chile must authenticate the parent company’s documents abroad and register the incoming capital with the Central Bank. This procedure, established under Chapter XIV of the Foreign Exchange Regulations, requires a notice of conversion of foreign currency into Chilean pesos when the investment exceeds $10,000. The registration process at the Registry of Commerce of Santiago is available online.

The Government of Chile does not have an active policy of promotion or incentives for outward investment, nor does it impose restrictions on it.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Property rights and interests are recognized and generally enforced in Chile. Chile ranked 63 out of 190 economies in the “Registering Property” category of the World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business report. There is a recognized and generally reliable system for recording mortgages and other forms of liens.

There are no restrictions on foreign ownership of buildings and land, and no time limit on the property rights acquired by them. The only exception, based on national security grounds, is for land located in border territories, which may not be owned by nationals or firms from border countries, without prior authorization of the President of Chile. There are no restrictions to foreign and/or non-resident investors regarding land leases or acquisitions. In the Doing Business specific index for “quality of land administration” (which includes reliability of infrastructure, transparency of information, geographic coverage and land dispute resolution), Chile obtains a score of 14 out of 30.

Unoccupied properties can always be claimed by their legal owners and, as usurpation is a criminal offense, several kinds of eviction procedures are allowed by the law, though they can sometimes be onerous and lengthy.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s International IP Index, Chile’s legal framework provides for fair and transparent use of compulsory licensing; extends necessary exclusive rights to copyright holders and maintains a voluntary notification system; and provides for civil and procedural remedies. However, IP protection challenges remain. Chile’s framework for trade secret protection has been deemed insufficient by private stakeholders. Pharmaceutical products suffer from relatively weak patenting procedures, the absence of an effective patent enforcement and resolution mechanism, and some gaps in regulation governing data protection.

Two important IP-related laws are pending in the Chilean Congress. A draft bill submitted to Congress in October 2018 would reform Chile’s Industrial Property Law. The new IP bill aims to reduce timeframes, modernize procedures, and increase legal certainty for patents and trademarks registration. On April 9, 2019, the bill was passed by the Lower Chamber and sent to the Senate. Meanwhile, a reform bill on Chile’s pharmaceutical drugs law called “Ley de Fármacos II”, originated in the Senate but was extensively amended by the opposition-controlled Lower Chamber, and has been under review by a mixed committee of both houses of the Chilean Congress since May 2020. While the pharmaceutical industry reports that the reconciliation process addressed some of their concerns regarding the new regulations, it identified the lack of coverage being offered in price regulations as an outstanding issue of concern.

A new legislation that modernizes certain aspects of Chile’s patent and IP regime – Ley Corta 21335 – entered into force on January 5, 2022. The new law modernizes procedures for industrial designs and trademarks registration; criminalizes trademark falsification with stronger fines and introducing prison terms of up to three years; introduces provisional patents, so that innovators can initiate a patent registration procedure while being afforded 12 months to gather necessary information; strengthens patent enforcement measures, allowing affected patent owners to request the transfer of an infringing registered patent and not only its annulment; and broadens the definition of trade secrets.

On February 7, 2022, a new law against trade in illicit and counterfeit goods, with a focus on disrupting organized criminal activity, entered into force. The scope of the law covers counterfeiting, the reproduction or unauthorized sale of literary, artistic, and scientific works protected by IPR, as well as phonograms, videos, phonographic records, cassettes, videocassettes, films or motion pictures, and computer programs.

The Intellectual Property Brigade (BRIDEPI) of the Chilean Investigative Police (PDI) reported that it seized 41,349 counterfeit products in 2021, worth a total of US$ 491,844, and arrested nine individuals on charges related to IPR infringement. Additionally, the National Customs Service reported that, between January and September 2021 (latest data available) it seized more than 4.9 million counterfeit products worth a total of US$ 54 million.

Chile’s IPR enforcement remains relatively lax, particularly in relation to piracy, copyright, and patent protection, while prosecution of IP infringement is hindered by gaps in the legal framework and a lack of expertise in IP law among judges. Rights holders indicate a need for greater resources devoted to customs operations and a better-defined procedure for dealing with small packages containing infringing goods. The legal basis for detaining and seizing suspected transshipments is also insufficiently clear.

Since 2007, Chile has been on the Special 301 Priority Watch List (PWL). In October 2018, Chile’s Congress successfully passed a law that criminalizes satellite piracy. In December 2021, the Ministry of Culture, Arts, and Heritage took positive action by introducing legislation in the Chilean Congress to implement a legal framework to penalize the circumvention of technology protection measures (TPM) by amending Chile’s existing IPR law. This legislation remains pending in Congress. However, other challenges remain, related to longstanding IPR issues under the U.S.-Chile FTA: the pending implementation of UPOV 91; the implementation of an effective patent linkage in connection with applications to market pharmaceutical products; adequate protection for undisclosed data generated to obtain marketing approval for pharmaceutical products; and amendments to Chile’s Internet Service Provider liability regime to permit effective action against Internet piracy.

Chile is not listed in the USTR’s Notorious Markets List. For additional information about national laws and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at HYPERLINK hError! Hyperlink reference not valid..

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) ($M US$) 2020 $252.9 2020 $252.940 www.worldbank.org/en/country
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country (US$ billion, stock positions) 2020 $31.84 2020 23.01 BEA data available at https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
Host country’s FDI in the United States (US$ billion, stock positions) 2020 $12.9 2019 3.0 BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP 2019 109.9% 2020 41.4% OECD data available at
https://data.oecd.org/

* Source for Host Country Data: Central Bank of Chile.

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 188,885 100% Total Outward 71,705 100%
Canada 30,592 13.6% Brazil 13,102 16.5%
United States 28,994 13.5% United States 10,095 9.9%
Spain 21,451 13.5% Peru 10,043 9.2%
The Netherlands 19,526 8.1% Colombia 6,734 7.1%
United Kingdom 15,740 7.4% Argentina 5,291 7.0%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- US$ 500,000.

According to the IMF’s Coordinated Direct Investment Survey (CDIS), total stock of FDI in Chile in 2020 amounted to US$ 188.9 billion, compared to US$ 254.3 billion in 2019. Canada, the United States and Spain are the main sources of FDI to Chile with US$ 30.6 billion, US$ 29.0 billion and US$ 21.5 billion, respectively, concentrating 42.9 percent of the total.

Chile’s outward direct investment stock in 2020 amounted to US$ 188.9 billion, compared to US$ 71.7 billion in 2020, a significant decrease compared to US$ 130.2 billion in 2019. It remains concentrated in South America, where Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Argentina together represented 49 percent of total Chilean outward FDI. The United States accounted for 14.1 percent of the total, an increase compared to 2019 when it represented 9.2 percent of the total.

The data below is consistent with host country statistics. Although not included in the table below, tax havens are relevant destinations of outward FDI to Chile, with the British Virgin Islands, Panama, Luxembourg, and Cayman Islands ranking sixth, seventh, ninth and tenth in inbound sources of FDI, respectively, according to the Central Bank of Chile. The Cayman Islands and Bermuda rank sixth and seventh and tenth, respectively, among Chile´s main inward FDI source.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

According to the IMF’s Coordinated Portfolio Investment Survey (CPIS), total stock of portfolio investment in Chile as of June 2021 amounted to US$ 200.4 billion, of which US$ 164.6 billion were equity and investment funds shares, and the rest were debt securities. The United States and Luxembourg (a tax haven) were the main sources of portfolio investment to Chile with US $71.3 billion and $54.9 billion, representing 35.6 percent and 27.4 percent of the total, respectively. Both countries also represent 65 percent of the total of equity investment. Ireland, the United Kingdom and Germany are the following top sources of equity portfolio investment to Chile, while the United States, Mexico and Japan are the top sources of debt securities investment.

China

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

FDI has played an essential role in China’s economic development. Though the PRC remains a relatively restrictive environment for foreign investors, PRC government officials tout openness to FDI, promising market access expansion and non-discriminatory, “national treatment” for foreign enterprises through improvements to the business environment.  They also have made efforts to strengthen China’s regulatory framework to enhance market-based competition.

MOFCOM reported FDI flows grew by about 15 percent year-on-year, reaching USD 173 billion, however, foreign businesses continue to express concerns over China’s pandemic restrictions.  In 2021, U.S. businesses’ concerns with China’s COVID-19 restrictive travel restrictions were at the top of the agenda, along with concerns over PRC’s excessive cyber security and data-related requirements, preferential treatment for domestic companies – including state-owned enterprises – under various industrial policies, preference for domestic technologies and products in the procurement process, an opaque regulatory system, and inconsistent application of laws protecting intellectual property rights (IPR). U.S.-China geopolitical tensions were also cited as a significant concern. See the following:

China’s International Investment Promotion Agency (CIPA), under MOFCOM, oversees attracting foreign investment and promoting China’s overseas investment. Duties include implementing overseas investment policy; guiding domestic sub-national and international investment promotion agencies; promoting investment in industrial parks at the national, subnational, and cross-border level; organizing trainings in China and abroad for overseas investment projects; and, engaging international and multilateral economic organizations, foreign investment promotion agencies, chambers of commerce, and business associations. The agency has offices worldwide, including CIPA Europe in Hungary, CIPA Germany, and a representative office in the Hague to promote investment in the Benelux area. CIPA maintains an “Invest in China” website which lists laws, regulations, and rules relevant to foreign investors. The China Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investments (CAEFI) is a non-profit organization overseen by MOFCOM. The association and corresponding provincial institutions have hotlines to receive foreign investor complaints.

Entry into China’s market is regulated by the country’s “negative lists,” which identify the sectors in which foreign investment is restricted or prohibited, and a catalogue for encouraged foreign investment, which identifies the sectors and locations (often less developed regions) in which the government encourages investment.

In restricted industries, foreign investors face equity caps or JV requirements to ensure control by a PRC national and enterprise.  Due to these requirements, foreign investors that wish to participate in China’s market must enter partnerships, which sometimes require transfer of technology. However, even in “open” sectors, a variety of factors, including ability to access local government officials and preferences, enhanced ability to impact local rules and standards, perceptions of better understanding of the PRC market, and access to procurement opportunities, led many foreign companies to rely on the JV structure to operate in the PRC market.

Below are a few examples of industries where investment restrictions apply:

  • Preschool to higher education institutes require a PRC partner with a dominant role.
  • Establishment of clinical trials for new drugs require a PRC partner who holds the IPR tied to data drawn from the clinical research.

Examples of foreign investment sectors requiring PRC majority stake include:

  • Radio/television market survey.
  • Basic telecommunication services outside free trade zones.

The 2021 negative lists made minor modifications to some industries, reducing the number of restrictions and prohibitions from 33 to 31 in the nationwide negative list, and from 30 to 27 in China’s pilot FTZs. Notable changes included openings in the automotive and satellite television broadcasting manufacturing sectors. Sectors that remain closed to foreign investment include rare earths, film production and distribution, and tobacco products.  However, the government continues to constrain foreign investors in a myriad of ways beyond caps on ownerships. For instance, in the pharmaceutical sector, while JV requirements were eliminated in the 1990s, foreign companies must partner with local PRC institutions for clinical trials. Other requirements that place undue burden on foreign investors include but are not limited to: applying higher standards for quality-related testing, prohibitions on foreign parties in JVs conducting certain business activities, challenges in obtaining licenses and permits, mandatory intellectual property sharing related to certain biological material, and other implicit and explicit downstream regulatory approval barriers.

The negative list regulating pilot FTZ zones will lift all barriers to foreign investment in all manufacturing sectors, widen foreign investor access to some service sectors, and allow foreign investment into the radio and TV-based market research sector.  For the market research sector, caveats include a 33 percent foreign investor ownership cap and PRC citizenship requirements for legal representatives. While U.S. businesses welcomed market openings, foreign investors remained underwhelmed by the PRC’s lack of ambition and refusal to provide more significant liberalization.  Foreign investors noted the automotive sector openings were inconsequential since the more lucrative electric vehicle (EV) sector was opened to foreign investors in 2018, whereas the conventional auto sector is saturated. Foreign investors cited this was in line with the government announcing liberalization mainly in industries that domestic PRC companies already dominate.

In addition to the PRC’s system for managing foreign investments, MOFCOM and NDRC also maintain a system for managing which segments of the economy are open to non-state-owned investors. The most recent Market Access Negative List  was issued on December 10, 2020.

The Measures for Security Reviews on Foreign Investments  came into effect January 18, 2021, revising the PRC’s framework for vetting foreign investments that could affect national security. The NDRC and the Ministry of Commerce will administer the new measures which establish a mechanism for reviewing investment activities across a range of sectors perceived to implicate PRC national security, including agriculture, energy and resources, cultural products, and more.

China is not a member of the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), but the OECD Council established a country program of dialogue and co-operation with China in October 1995. The OECD completed its most recent investment policy review for China in 2022.

China’s 2001 accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) boosted its economic growth and advanced its legal and governmental reforms.  The WTO completed its most recent trade policy review for China in 2021, highlighting FDI grew at a slower pace than in previous periods but remains a major driver of global growth and a key market for multinational companies.

Created in 2018, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) is responsible for business registration processes.  Under SAMR’s registration system, parties are required to report when they (1) establish a Foreign Invested Enterprise (FIE); (2) establish a representative office in China; (3) acquire stocks, shares, assets or other similar equity of a domestic China-based company; (4) re-invest and establish subsidiaries in China; and (5) invest in new projects.  Foreign companies still report challenges setting up a business relative to their PRC competitors. Many companies offer consulting, legal, and accounting services for establishing operations in China. Investors should review their options carefully with an experienced advisor before investing.

Since 2001, China has pursued a “going-out” investment policy.  At first, the PRC encouraged SOEs to invest overseas, but in recent years, China’s overseas investments have diversified with both state and private enterprises investing in nearly all industries and economic sectors.  China remains a major global investor and in 2021, total outbound direct investment (ODI) increased for the first time in four years to reach $153.7 billion, a 12 percent increase year-on-year, according to the 2020 Statistical Bulletin of China’s Outward Foreign Direct Investment .

China’s government created “encouraged,” “restricted,” and “prohibited” outbound investment categories to suppress significant capital outflow pressure in 2016 and to guide PRC investors to more “strategic sectors.” The Sensitive Industrial-Specified Catalogue of 2018  further restricted outbound investment in sectors like property, cinemas, sports teams, and non-entity investment platforms and encouraged outbound investment in sectors that supported PRC national objectives by acquiring advanced manufacturing and high-tech assets.  PRC firms involved in sectors cited as priorities in the Strategic Emerging Industries, New Infrastructure Initiative, and MIC 2025 often receive preferential government financing and subsidies for outbound investment.

In 2006, the PRC established the Qualified (QDII) program to channel domestic funds into offshore assets through financial institutions. While the quota tied to this program has fluctuated over the years based on capital flight concerns, in 2021 the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) approved new quotas for 17 institutions under the program to allow a potential $147.3 billion in outbound investment.

In 2013, the PRC government established a pilot program allowing global asset management companies more opportunities to raise RMB-denominated funds from high net-worth PRC-based individuals and institutional investors to invest overseas. These programs include the Qualified Domestic Limited Partnership (QDLP) pilot program and the Shenzhen-specific Qualified Domestic Investment Entity (QDIE) program. In 2021, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) and SAFE expanded the pilot areas to at least seven jurisdictions and quotas for the QDLP to $10 billion, respectively. In April, the Shenzhen Financial Regulatory Bureau amended the Administrative Measures of Shenzhen for Implementation of the Pilot Program for Overseas Investment by Qualified Domestic Investors (“Shenzhen QDIE Measures”) to include investments in the securities market that aligns it with the QLDP program.

5. Protection of Property Rights

The government of China owns all urban land and only the state can issue long-term land leases to individuals and companies, including foreigners, subject to many restrictions. China’s property law stipulates that residential property rights renew automatically, while commercial and industrial grants renew if it does not conflict with other public interest claims. Several foreign investors have reported revocation of land use rights so that PRC developers could pursue government-designated building projects. Investors often complain about insufficient compensation in these cases. In rural China, the registration system suffers from unclear ownership lines and disputed border claims, often at the expense of local farmers whom village leaders exclude in favor of “handshake deals” with commercial interests. China’s Securities Law defines debtor and guarantor rights, including rights to mortgage certain types of property and other tangible assets, including long-term leases. PRC law does not prohibit foreigners from buying non-performing debt, but it must be acquired through state-owned asset management firms, and it is difficult to liquidate.

The PRC remained on the USTR Special 301 Report Priority Watch List in 2022 and was subject to continued Section 306 monitoring. Multiple PRC-based physical and online markets were included in the 2021 USTR Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy. Of note, in 2021, the PRC government took steps toward addressing long-standing U.S. concerns on a wide range of IP issues, from patents to trademarks to copyrights and trade secrets. The reforms addressed the granting and protection of IP rights as well as their enforcement, and included changes made in support of the Phase One Trade Agreement. In September 2021, the CCP Central Committee and State Council jointly issued the “Outline for Building a Strong Intellectual Property Nation (2021-2035).” The Outline was China’s second long-term plan to promote IP development since the 2008 National IP Strategy Outline, and provided a high-level framework and specific goals for reforms of China’s entire IP ecosystem, including mechanisms to incentivize the creation and utilization of IP, as well as the systems and mechanisms for protecting and enforcing it. The State Council in October issued the “National 14th Five-year Plan IP Protection and Utilization Plan” which provided a list of IP-related tasks to achieve during 2021-2025. The Plan called for expedited revisions to the Patent Law, Trademark Law, Copyright Law, Anti-Monopoly Law, Science and Technology Advancement Law, and e-Commerce law, and to strengthen legislation in areas such as geographical indicators and trade secrets. In 2021, China’s IP progress also included the implementation of a judicial interpretation related to punitive damages on IP infringements, the gradual elimination of subsidies linked to patent applications, and administrative measures addressing trademark and patent protection and enforcement, as well as enforcement of copyright and trade secrets.

Despite these reforms, IP rights remain subject to Chinese government policy objectives, which appear to have intensified in 2021. For U.S. companies in China, infringement remained both rampant and a low-risk “business strategy” for bad-faith actors. Further, enforcement and regulatory authorities continue to signal to U.S. rights holders that application of China’s IP system remains subject to the discretion of the PRC government and its policy goals. High-level remarks by PRC leader Xi Jinping and senior leaders signaled China’s commitment to cracking down on IP infringement in the years ahead. However, they also reflected China’s vision of the IP system as an important tool for limiting foreign ownership and control of critical technology and ensuring national security. While on paper China’s IP protection and enforcement mechanisms have inched closer to near parity with other foreign markets, in practice, fair, transparent, and non-discriminatory treatment will very likely continue to be denied to U.S. rights holders whose IP ownership and exploitation impede PRC economic development and national security goals.

For detailed information on China’s environment for IPR protection and enforcement, please see the following reports: 

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/. 

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) 2020 $14,724,435 2021 $14,343,000 www.worldbank.org/en/country 
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2020 $90,190 2020 $123,875 BEA data available at https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/ https://apps.bea.gov/international/
factsheet/factsheet.html#650
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) 2020 $80,048 2020 $37,995 BEA data available at
https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment
-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data
https://apps.bea.gov/international/
factsheet/factsheet.html#650
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP 2020 $16.6% 2020 13% UNCTAD data available at
https://unctad.org/statistics 

* Source for Host Country Data: National Bureau of Statistics 

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 $3,214,115 100% Total Outward $2,580,658 100%
China, P.R., Hong Kong  $1,726,212 53.7% China, P.C., Hong Kong $1,438,531 55.7%
British Virgin Islands $403,903 12.5% Cayman Islands $457,027 17.7%
Japan $193,338 6.0% British Virgin Islands $155,645 6%
Singapore $148,721 4.6% United States $80,048 3.1%
United States $86,907 2.7% Singapore $59,858 2.3%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment
Data not available.

Colombia

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

The Colombian government actively encourages foreign direct investment (FDI). The economic liberalization reforms of the early 1990s provided for national treatment of foreign investors, lifted controls on remittance of profits and capital, and allowed foreign investment in most sectors. Colombia imposes the same investment restrictions on foreign investors that it does on national investors. Generally, foreign investors may participate in the privatization of state-owned enterprises without restrictions. All FDI involving the establishment of a commercial presence in Colombia requires registration with the Superintendence of Corporations and the local chamber of commerce. All conditions being equal during tender processes, national offers are preferred over foreign offers. Assuming equal conditions among foreign bidders, those with major Colombian national workforce resources, significant national capital, and/or better conditions to facilitate technology transfers are preferred.

ProColombia is the Colombian government entity that promotes international tourism, foreign investment, and non-traditional exports. ProColombia assists foreign companies that wish to enter the Colombian market by addressing specific needs, such as identifying contacts in the public and private sectors, organizing visit agendas, and accompanying companies during visits to Colombia. All services are free of charge and confidential. Priority sectors include business process outsourcing, software and IT services, cosmetics, health services, automotive manufacturing, textiles, graphic communications, agribusiness, and electric energy. ProColombia’s “Invest in Colombia” web portal offers detailed information about opportunities in agribusiness, manufacturing, and services in Colombia ( www.investincolombia.com.co/sectors ). The Duque administration – including senior leaders at the Presidency, ProColombia, and the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, and Trade – continue to stress Colombia’s openness to foreign investors and aggressively market Colombia as an investment destination. The government of Colombia does not have a national security-based investment screening mechanism in place.

Foreign investment in the financial, hydrocarbon, and mining sectors is subject to special regimes, such as investment registration and concession agreements with the Colombian government, but is not restricted in the amount of foreign capital. The following sectors require that foreign investors have a legal local representative and/or commercial presence in Colombia: travel and tourism agency services; money order operators; customs brokerage; postal and courier services; merchandise warehousing; merchandise transportation under customs control; international cargo agents; public service companies, including sewage and water works, waste disposal, electricity, gas and fuel distribution, and public telephone services; insurance firms; legal services; and special air services, including aerial fire-fighting, sightseeing, and surveying.

According to the Colombian constitution and foreign investment regulations, foreign investment in Colombia receives the same treatment as an investment made by Colombian nationals. Foreign investment is permitted in all sectors, except in activities related to defense, national security, and toxic waste handling and disposal. There are no performance requirements explicitly applicable to the entry and establishment of foreign investment in Colombia.

Foreign investors face specific exceptions and restrictions in the following sectors:

Media: Only Colombian nationals or legally constituted entities may provide radio or subscription-based television services. For National Open Television and Nationwide Private Television Operators, only Colombian nationals or legal entities may be granted concessions to provide television services. Foreign investment in national television is limited to a maximum of 40 percent ownership of an operator.

Accounting, Auditing, and Data Processing: To practice in Colombia, providers of accounting services must register with the Central Accountants Board and have uninterrupted domicile in Colombia for at least three years prior to registry. A legal commercial presence is required to provide data processing and information services in Colombia.

Banking: Foreign investors may own 100 percent of financial institutions in Colombia, but are required to obtain approval from the Financial Superintendent before making a direct investment of ten percent or more in any one entity. Foreign banks must establish a local commercial presence and comply with the same capital and other requirements as local financial institutions. Every investment of foreign capital in portfolios must be through a Colombian administrator company, including brokerage firms, trust companies, and investment management companies.

Fishing: A foreign vessel may engage in fishing activities in Colombian territorial waters only through association with a Colombian company holding a valid fishing permit. If a ship’s flag corresponds to a country with which Colombia has a complementary bilateral agreement, this agreement shall determine whether the association requirement applies for the process required to obtain a fishing license. The costs of fishing permits are greater for foreign flag vessels.

Private Security and Surveillance Companies: Companies constituted with foreign capital prior to February 11, 1994 cannot increase the share of foreign capital. Those constituted after that date can only have Colombian nationals as shareholders.

Transportation: Foreign companies can only provide multimodal freight services within or from Colombian territory if they have a domiciled agent or representative legally responsible for its activities in Colombia. International cabotage companies can provide cabotage services (i.e. between two points within Colombia) “only when there is no national capacity to provide the service.” Colombia prohibits foreign ownership of commercial ships licensed in Colombia. The owners of a concession providing port services must be legally constituted in Colombia, and only Colombian ships may provide port services within Colombian maritime jurisdiction, unless there are no capable Colombian-flag vessels.

The WTO most recently reviewed Colombia’s trade policy in June 2018. https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp472_e.htm 

New businesses must register with the chamber of commerce of the city in which the company will reside. Applicants also register using the Colombian tax authority’s portal at: www.dian.gov.co  to obtain a taxpayer ID (RUT). Business founders must visit DIAN ( Dirección de Impuestos y Aduanas Nacionales) offices to obtain an electronic signature for company legal representatives, and obtain – in-person or online – an authorization for company invoices from DIAN. In 2019, Colombia made starting a business a step easier by lifting a requirement of opening a local bank account to obtain invoice authorization. Companies must submit a unified electronic form to self-assess and pay social security and payroll contributions to the Governmental Learning Service (Servicio Nacional de Aprendizaje, or SENA), the Colombian Family Welfare Institute (Instituto Colombiano de Bienestar Familiar, or ICBF), and the Family Compensation Fund (Caja de Compensación Familiar). After that, companies must register employees for public health coverage, affiliate the company to a public or private pension fund, affiliate the company and employees to an administrator of professional risks, and affiliate employees with a severance fund.

According to the World Bank’s “Doing Business 2020” report, recent reforms simplified starting a business, trading across borders, and resolving insolvency. According to the report, starting a company in Colombia requires seven procedures and takes an average of 10 days. Information on starting a company can be found at http://www.ccb.org.co/en/Creating-a-company/Company-start-up/Step-by-step-company-creation ; https://investincolombia.com.co/how-to-invest.html ; and http://www.dian.gov.co .

Colombia does not incentivize outward investment nor does it restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights

The 1991 Constitution explicitly protects individual rights against state actions and upholds the right to private property. Secured interests in real property, and to a lesser degree movable property, are recognized and generally enforced after the property is properly registered. In terms of protecting third-party purchasers, existing law is inadequate. The concepts of a mortgage, trust, deed, and other types of liens exist, as does a reliable system of recording such secured interests. Deeds, however, present some legal risk due to the prevalence of transactions that have never been registered with the Public Instruments Registry. According to a survey made shortly before the signing of the FARC peace accord, some eight million hectares of land – 14 percent of the country – had been abandoned or acquired illegally. The government is working to title these plots and has started a formalization program for land restitution. The 2020 Doing Business report ranked Colombia 62nd for ease of registering property.

In Colombia, the granting, registration, and administration of intellectual property rights (IPR) are carried out by four primary government entities. The SIC acts as the Colombian patent and trademark office. The Colombian Agricultural Institute (ICA) is in charge of issuing plant variety protections and data protections for agricultural products. The Ministry of Interior administers copyrights through the National Copyright Directorate (DNDA). The Ministry of Health and Social Protection handles data protection for products registered through INVIMA. Primary responsibility for enforcement resides with the Fiscalia General de la Republica (FGR), DIAN, and the Fiscal and Customs Police (POLFA).

The Intersectoral Intellectual Property Commission (CIPI) serves as the interagency technical body for IPR issues. On June 22, 2021 the Colombian Congress approved the Law 2090 known as the Marrakech Treaty to facilitate access to published works for blind, visually impaired or otherwise disabled persons. On the Beijing Treaty, the Ministry of Interior and Foreign Affairs presented to the Colombian Congress the draft bill 461 of 2021 which seeks to ratify this treaty. As of February 2022 it has been approved in first debate and three other debates remain pending for its final approval. In December 2021 Colombia’s NPD approved Conpes 4066, also known as the “Conpes on IP,” Colombia’s roadmap for leveraging IP rights and facilitating policies for IP protection. Colombia is subject to Andean Community Decision 486 on trade secret protection, which is fully implemented domestically by the Unfair Competition Law of 1996.

Colombia grants utility patents that confer twenty years of protection for inventions, ten years of protection for process and design patents, and five years of protection for data collected during clinical trials. Colombia has been on the U.S. Trade Representative’s Special 301 Watch List every year since 1991, and in 2019 was upgraded from “Priority Watch List” to “Watch List” status.

The CTPA improved standards for the protection and enforcement of a broad range of IPR. Improvements include state-of-the-art protections for digital products such as software, music, text, and videos; stronger protection for U.S. patents, trademarks, and test data; and prevention of piracy and counterfeiting by criminalizing end-use piracy. However, Colombia has outstanding CTPA commitments related to IPR. Colombian officials continue discussing with the United States draft legislation regulating internet service providers on issues such as compulsory takedown of online content and the protection of intermediaries with “safe harbor” provisions for unintentional copyright infringement. The legislation has not yet been introduced to Congress. Colombia has not yet signed the International Union for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 91). Colombia maintains that the existing Andean Community Decision 345 is in effect and equivalent to UPOV 91, but this is not an interpretation shared by the United States. Colombia is a member of the Inter-American Convention for Trademark and Commercial Protection.

Colombia reformed its copyright law under Decree 1915 of July 2018. The bill extends the term of copyright protection, imposes civil liability for circumvention of technological protection measures, and strengthens enforcement of copyright and related rights. On July 31, 2019 the Colombian Constitutional Court issued ruling C-345-19 that recognizes the constitutionality of statutory damages for copyright infringement.

Colombia’s success combating counterfeiting and IPR violations, and enforcement in the digital space, remains limited. In March 2021, DNDA imposed an order requiring internet providers to block IP addresses used to transmit pirated digital content, the first such order in Colombia. Industry advocates called this an important precedent for combatting IP theft. A 2015 law increased penalties for those involved in running contraband, but more effective implementation is needed. Colombian authorities coordinate with the United States on investigations, but key agencies often do not have the requisite authorities or sufficient numbers of trained personnel to effectively inspect and seize merchandise and to investigate smugglers and counterfeiters. Despite high-profile seizures of counterfeit goods, such goods remain widely available in Colombia’s “San Andresitos” markets. No Colombian markets are listed in the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy.

U.S. stakeholders continue to raise concerns about Colombia’s regulation of the pharmaceutical sector, where regulatory barriers, a focus by the government on cost containment over health outcomes, delays in processing pharmaceutical registrations at INVIMA, and Congressional proposals to limit pharmaceutical IP restrict market entry and reduce the attractiveness of Colombia as a place to invest and do business.

Colombia is on the Watch List in USTR’s 2021 Special 301 Report.

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/ .

Costa Rica

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Costa Rica actively courts FDI, placing a high priority on attracting and retaining high-quality foreign investment.

PROCOMER and CINDE lead Costa Rica’s investment promotion efforts. CINDE has had great success over the last several decades in attracting and retaining investment in specific areas, currently services, advanced manufacturing, life sciences, light manufacturing, and the food industry. In addition, the Tourism Institute (ICT) attends to potential investors in the tourism sector. CINDE, PROCOMER, and ICT are strong and effective guides and advocates for their client companies, prioritizing investment retention and maintaining an ongoing dialogue with investors.

Costa Rica recognizes and encourages the right of foreign and domestic private entities to establish and own business enterprises and engage in most forms of remunerative activity. The exceptions are in sectors that are reserved for the state (legal monopolies – see #7 below “State Owned Enterprises, first paragraph) or that require participation of at least a certain percentage of Costa Rican citizens or residents (electrical power generation, transport services, professional services, and aspects of broadcasting). Properties in the Maritime Zone (from 50 to 200 meters above the mean high-tide mark) may only be leased from the state and with residency requirements. In the areas of medical services, telecommunications, finance and insurance, state-owned entities dominate, but that does not preclude private sector competition. Costa Rica does not have an investment screening mechanism for inbound foreign investment, beyond those applied under anti-money laundering procedures. U.S. investors are not disadvantaged or singled out by any control mechanism or sector restrictions; to the contrary, U.S. investors figure prominently among the various major categories of FDI.

On May 25, 2021, Costa Rica officially became the 38th OECD member. A comprehensive review of the Costa Rican economy was published by the OECD at the conclusion of the accession process, which offered valuable insights into challenges faced by the economy, “OECD Economic Surveys Costa Rica 2020: https://www.oecd.org/countries/costarica/oecd-economic-surveys-costa-rica-2020-2e0fea6c-en.htm . In the same context, the OECD offered a March 2020 review of international investment in Costa Rica: https://www.oecd.org/investment/OECD-Review-of-international-investment-in-Costa-Rica.pdf . For the index of OECD reports on Costa Rica, go to https://www.oecd.org/costarica/ 

The World Trade Organization (WTO) conducted its 2019 “Trade Policy Review” of Costa Rica in September of that year. Trade Policy Reviews are an exercise, mandated in the WTO agreements, in which member countries’ trade and related policies are examined and evaluated at regular intervals: https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp492_e.htm  .

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) produced in 2019 the report Overview of Economic and Trade Aspects of Fisheries and Seafood Sectors in Costa Rica:

https://unctad.org/en/pages/PublicationWebflyer.aspx?publicationid=2583  .

The Environmental Justice Atlas – https://ejatlas.org/country/costa-rica  – highlights a number of environmental disputes involving foreign investors, some moribund and some ongoing.

A new company in Costa Rica must typically register with the National Registry (company and capital registry), Internal Revenue Directorate of the Finance Ministry (taxpayer registration), National Insurance Institute (INS) (basic workers’ comp), Ministry of Health (sanitary permit), Social Security Administration (CCSS) (registry as employer), and the local Municipality (business permit). Legal fees are the biggest single business start-up cost, as all firms registered to individuals must hire a lawyer for a portion of the necessary paperwork. Costa Rica’s business registration website Crearempresa functions but in 2021 is rated last of 76 national business registration sites evaluated by “Global Enterprise Registration” ( www.GER.co ).

Traditionally, the Costa Rican government’s small business promotion efforts have tended to focus on participation by women and underserved communities.  The National Institute for Women (INAMU), National Training Institute (INA), the Ministry of Economy (MEIC), and PROCOMER through its supply chain initiative have all collaborated extensively to promote small and medium enterprise with an emphasis on women’s entrepreneurship. In 2020, INA launched a network of centers to support small and medium-sized enterprises based upon the U.S. Small Business Development Center (SBDC) model.

The Costa Rican government does not promote or incentivize outward investment. Neither does the government discourage or restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights

The laws governing investments in land, buildings, and mortgages are generally transparent. Secured interests in both chattel and real property are recognized and enforced. Mortgage and title recording are mandatory and the vast majority of land in Costa Rica has clear title. However, the National Registry, the government entity that records property titles, has been successfully targeted on occasion with fraudulent filing, which has led in some cases to overlapping title to real property. Costa Rican law allows long-time occupants of a property belonging to someone else (i.e. squatters) to eventually take legal possession of that property if unopposed by the property owner. Potential investors in Costa Rican real estate should also be aware that the right to use traditional paths is enshrined in law and can be used to obtain court-ordered easements on land bearing private title; disputes over easements are particularly common when access to a beach is an issue.

Foreigners are subject to the same land lease and acquisition laws and regulations as Costa Ricans with the exception of concessions within the Maritime Zone (Zona Maritima Terrestre – ZMT). Almost all beachfront is public property for a distance of 200 meters from the mean high tide line, with an exception for long-established port cities and a few beaches such as Jaco. The first 50 meters from the mean high tide line is severely restricted. The next 150 meters, also owned by the state, is the Maritime Zone and can only be leased from the local municipalities or the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT) for specified periods and particular uses, such as tourism installation or vacation homes. Concessions in this zone cannot be given to foreigners or foreign-owned companies.

Costa Rica’s legal structure for protecting intellectual property rights (IPR) is quite strong, but enforcement is sporadic and does not always get the attention and resources required to be effective. In the 2019 United States Trade Representative (USTR) Special 301 Report, USTR noted the substantial progress made by Costa Rica in protecting IPR. As a result, USTR did not include Costa Rica in the 2020 or 2021 Special 301 reports. Costa Rica was not listed in USTR’s 2021 Review of Notorious Markets for Counterfeiting and Piracy.

Costa Rica is a signatory of many major international agreements and conventions regarding intellectual property.  Building on the existent regulatory and legal framework, the Dominican Republic-Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA-DR) required Costa Rica to strengthen and clarify its IPR regime further, with several new IPR laws added to the books in 2008.  Prior to that, the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) took effect in Costa Rica on January 1, 2000.  In 2002, Costa Rica ratified the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Performances and Phonograms Treaty and the WIPO Copyright Treaty.

On June 22, 2020, the General Directorate of the National Registry merged the Registry of Industrial Property and the Registry of Copyright and Related Rights into a single Registry of Intellectual Property, improving the National Registry’s efficiency.

While online piracy remains a concern for the country, in February 2019 Costa Rica modified the existing regulation on internet service providers (ISPs) to shorten significantly the 45 days previously allowed for notice and takedown of pirated online content, creating an expeditious safe harbor system for ISPs in Costa Rica.

In August 2020, Costa Rica’s Intellectual Property Registry launched a WIPO online platform that will allow interested parties to submit online applications to register trademarks.  The online service has improved efficiency and encouraged registrations from small-to-medium-sized companies across the country. In 2021, the Intellectual Property Registry launched the development of the second stage of WIPO File that will allow for online filing of applications for patents, models, and industrial designs. In 2019, the National Registry of Industrial Property announced the implementation of TMview and DesignView, search tools that allow users to consult trademarks and industrial design data.

The Costa Rican government does not release official statistics on the seizure of counterfeit goods, but the Chamber of Commerce compiles statistics from Costa Rican government sources: http://observatorio.co.cr/  In the first six months of 2021, Costa Rica’s Economic Crimes Prosecutor investigated 26 IPR cases, up from the total of 14 cases in 2020. As in years past, prosecutors ultimately dismissed several cases due to lack of interest, collaboration, and follow-up by the representatives of trademark rights holders.  Government authorities complained that the lack of response by trademark representatives is a recurring behavior dating back to at least 2016 and may explain the drop in IPR cases.  In 2020, the Prosecutor’s Office established a specialized cybercrime unit with the purpose of improving the country’s response toward computer-oriented crimes, including copyrights infringements.

On September 4, 2019, Costa Rican Customs issued an executive decree titled “Contact of the Representatives of Intellectual Property Rights for Enforcement Issues” establishing a formal customs recordation system for trademarks that allows customs officers to make full use of their ex officio authority to inspect and detain goods. Under the decree, customs offices have the power to include new trademark rights holders in a formal database for use by customs officials in the field. As of 2021, 173 trademarks are included in this database.

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/ .

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) 2020 $62,158 2020 $61,847 www.worldbank.org/en/country
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2020 $26,306 2020 $2,000 BEA data available at https://apps.bea.gov/international/factsheet/
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) 2020 $124 2020 $-86 BEA data available at https://www.bea.gov/international/direct-investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP 2020 1.2% 2020 2.9% UNCTAD data available at

https://unctad.org/topic/investment/world-investment-report

* Source for Host Country Data: Costa Rican Central Bank. The “FDI Stock” positions detailed here are an accounting expression of the accumulation of FDI through 2020, while the “FDI inflow” statistic given in the first paragraph of the executive summary is the sum of foreign direct investment made in Costa Rica during calendar year 2020, as reported by the Costa Rican Central Bank.    

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 46,115 100% Total Outward 3,578 100
United States 26,306 57% Nicaragua 1,065 30%
Spain 2,810 6% Guatemala 1,023 29%
Mexico 2,173 5% Panama 867 24%
The Netherlands 1,777 4% United States 124 4%
Colombia 1,681 4% Luxembourg 90 3%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Côte d’Ivoire

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

The government actively encourages FDI and is committed to increasing it.  The preparation of the 2021-2025 PND was informed by a comprehensive review of the previous 2016-2020 PND to identify the main achievements, remaining challenges and additional strategic priorities.  The 2021-2025 PND process was collaborative, including consultations with civil society, private sector, local government, and development finance institutions (DFIs).  The government recognizes it cannot achieve its ambitious PND investment goals without increasing foreign investment and private investment to a target of 72 percent of total investment.  Prime Minister Achi’s March 2022 visit to the U.S. profiled CDI as an attractive trade and investment partner that offers a conducive environment to accommodate foreign companies.  Achi broadcast the government’s objective to use the private sector as a principal element of development, urging U.S. companies to invest in Côte d’Ivoire.  He highlighted CDI’s success in delivering peace and stability through its commitment to political dialogue.  Part of CDI’s vision by 2030 is to process domestically at least 50 percent of its raw export commodities.

Foreign companies are free to invest and list on the Regional Stock Exchange (BVRM – Bourse Régionale des Valeurs Mobilières), which is based in Abidjan and covers the eight countries of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU).  WAEMU members are part of the Regional Council for Savings and Investment (CREPMF – Conseil Régional de l’Épargne Publique et des Marchés Financiers), a West African securities regulatory body.  BRVM has only 46 companies, 34 of which are Ivorian.  Looking ahead, the market is slowly going digital, with online trading platforms.  Licensed stock broking companies already execute most investors’ trades through an automated trading system.  Nevertheless, investor and corporate sentiment remain low.  Companies are reluctant to list, and investors do not yet see the market as an alternative way to make profit.  There is a need to expand and deepen markets to support international trade, including forward and futures markets.

In most sectors, there are no laws that limit foreign investment.  There are restrictions, however, on foreign investment in the health sector, law and accounting firms, and travel agencies (see the section below).

The Ivoirian government’s investment promotion agency, the Center for the Promotion of Investment in Côte d’Ivoire (CEPICI), promotes and attracts national and foreign investment.  Its services are available to all investors and are provided through a one-stop shop intended to facilitate business creation, operation, and expansion.  CEPICI ensures that investors receive incentives outlined in the investment code and facilitates access to industrial land.  More information is available at http://www.cepici.gouv.ci/.  In 2019, the government added a Ministry of Investment Promotion and Private Sector Development, charged with investment promotion activities and development of industrial zones, including economic and free zones. The Ministry oversees the CEPICI and the Ivoirian Enterprise Institute (INIE – Institut Ivoirien de l’Entreprise), charged with programs targeting Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) development.  This overlaps with the mandate of the Ministry of SMEs (Ministère de la Promotion des PME, de l’artisanat et de la Transformation du Secteur informel).

Côte d’Ivoire maintains an ongoing dialogue with investors through various business networks and platforms, such as the CEPICI, the Ivoirian Chamber of Commerce (CCI-CI), the association of large enterprises (CGECI), and the bankers’ association.  CGECI regularly proposes reforms to be adopted by the government regarding private sector financing and investment.  CGECI workshops and conferences are venues to discuss issues ranging from tax to access to debt issues.

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

There are no general, economy-wide limits on foreign ownership or control, and few sector-specific restrictions.  There are no laws specifically directing private firms to adopt articles of incorporation or association that limit or prohibit foreign investment, participation, or control in those firms, and no such practices have been reported.  Non-citizens and foreign entities can buy stocks listed on the regional stock exchange located in Abidjan.

Banks and insurance companies are subject to licensing requirements, but there are no restrictions designed to limit foreign ownership or to limit establishment of subsidiaries of foreign companies in this sector.  Investments in health, law and accounting, and travel agencies are subject to prior approval and require appropriate licenses and association with an Ivoirian partner.  The Ivoirian government has, on a case-by-case basis, mandated using local providers, hiring local employees, or arranging for eventual transfer to local control.  The government has implemented local content requirement for companies in the oil and gas sectors.  Local content includes an obligation to employ local employees and to work with local SMEs.

The government does not have an official policy to screen investments; its overall economic and industrial strategy does not discriminate against foreign-owned firms.  There are indications in some instances of preferential treatment for firms from countries with longstanding commercial ties to CDI.  In some sectors, such as cocoa and cashew processing, the government gives preferential treatment to Ivoirian companies.  For instance, 20 percent of the national cocoa production is exclusively granted to local cocoa exporting companies.

Côte d’Ivoire has not conducted an investment policy review (IPR) through the OECD.  The WTO last conducted a Trade Policy Review in October 2017, which can be found at https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp462_e.htm.

UNCTAD published an Investment Policy Review for Côte d’Ivoire in February 2020, which can be found at https://unctad.org/webflyer/investment-policy-review-cote-divoire.

The Government of CDI provides information about sector policies and business opportunities in publicly available reports.  More information can be found at: https://www.cepici.gouv.ci/.  The National Development Plan 2021-2025 outlines the key sectors and priorities of the government regarding investment.

The CEPICI manages CDI’s online information portal containing all documents dedicated to business creation and registration (https://cotedivoire.eregulations.org/).  All the necessary documentation for registration is available online, however actual registration must be done in person. Further information on business registration is also available on CEPICI’s website (http://www.cepici.gouv.ci/).

Businesses can register at the CEPICI’s One-Stop Shop (Guichet Unique) in Abidjan.  The One-Stop Shop allows businesses to register with the commercial registrar (Registre du Commerce et du Crédit Immobilier), the tax authority (Direction Générale d’Impôts) and the social security institute (Caisse Nationale de Prévoyance Sociale).  The One-Stop Shop also publishes the legal notice of incorporation on CEPICI’s website.  All necessary documents for registration are also available on the website.  Registration takes between one and three days, while preparation of necessary documents can take more time.  The business licensing process, controlled by sector-specific governing bodies, is separate from the registration process.

Women have equal access to the registration process.  There have not been any reports of discrimination in that regard.

International financial institutions are recommending that government authorities better and more transparently address concerns from the private sector in the following general areas:

1) enhancing the regulatory framework, reducing bureaucratic red tape, and improving the provision of public sector services, for example by simplifying and harmonizing the process for issuing business licenses and approvals;

2) promoting digitalization, both in the provision of public services and in public finance management;

3)  reducing labor market rigidities by broadening professional training programs;

4)  safeguarding property rights, particularly with respect to ownership and transfer of land;

5)  deepening financial inclusion and facilitating access to financial markets, also via mobile systems and digital platforms; and

6)  reducing uncertainty in the timing of government payments.

Government authorities are stepping up efforts to strengthen macroeconomic statistics. The National Strategy for the development of statistics aims to broaden the competencies of the National Institute of Statistics, reinforce its independence, and create a national fund for the development of statistics.

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

5. Protection of Property Rights

The Ivoirian civil code provides for the enforcement of private property rights, and the government has undertaken reform efforts to secure property rights.  The cost of capital is high, and mortgages are costly, which inhibits investment. Secured interests in property are enforced by the Land Registry Office of the Ministry of Economy and Finance.  In the World Bank’s Doing Business 2020 report, Côte d’Ivoire is ranked 112 out of 190 countries for ease of registering property.

Land tenure is a complicated and sensitive issue.  Land tenure disputes exist all over the country owing to multiple forms of traditional collective tenure and the lack of formal private land ownership in most areas.  Companies wishing to purchase land must have the property surveyed before obtaining title and obtaining construction authorization.  Surveying is tightly controlled by a small group of companies and can often cost more than the value of the parcel of land.  This has led to corrupt back-channel authorizations, which, together with improper inspections, has resulted in shoddy construction and building collapses.   In 2021, the government began streamlining and regularizing this process to accelerate construction authorizations and ensure quality construction. The Ministry of Construction has established a department to help individuals obtain land title and resolve disputes.  Freehold land tenure in rural areas remains difficult to negotiate, however, and can inhibit foreign investment.  Most businesses, including agribusinesses and forestry companies, circumvent the complicated land purchase process by acquiring long-term leases instead.  There are regulations designed to control land speculation in urban areas, but they do not prevent foreigners from owning land.

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

The Audace Institute, an independent Ivoirian think tank, estimates that 96 percent of land does not have a clear title.  The World Bank estimates that only 30 percent of property owners have clear title.  There have been several attempts by the government to require rural landowners register their lands, the most recent set a deadline of 2023 with a consequence that unregistered lands will be transferred to government ownership.  However, land registration is onerous and many owners are unable to afford the complex process.  As with other aspects of Ivoirian law, follow-up and enforcement is uneven.

The Ivoirian Civil Code includes measures to protect intellectual property rights (IPR), but the government has limited capacity to enforce them.  Inadequate enforcement of intellectual property rights remains a serious problem.  The government’s Office of Intellectual Property (OIPI – Office ivoirien de la propriété intellectuelle) is charged with ensuring the protection of patents, trademarks, industrial designs, and commercial names.  Patents are valid for 10 years, with the possibility of two extensions of five years each.  Trademarks are valid for 10 years and are renewable indefinitely. Copyrights are valid for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years.  The Ivoirian Copyright Office (BURIDA- Bureau ivoirien du droit d’auteur) has a labeling system in place to prevent counterfeiting and to protect audio, video, literary, and artistic property rights in music and computer programs.  A new cell charged with IPR and combating counterfeiting was inaugurated in November 2021.  This cell gathers large and small enterprises around counterfeiting practices and best methods to fight them.  While Ivoirian IPR law is in conformity with standards established by the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), the country lacks adequate customs inspections at its porous borders, limiting the law’s impact.

The government has not adopted any IPR-related laws or regulations in 2021.  In 2020, the Ministry of Culture, Art, and Entertainment Business established committees that study and make recommendations for the reform and restructuring of BURIDA.

The National Committee to Combat Counterfeiting (CNLC – Comité national de la lutte contre la contrefaçon) coordinates national efforts against counterfeit and pirated goods.  By law, the government must protect intellectual property on both exported and imported goods. Customs has the power to seize imported products that violate IPR laws even if installed with other equipment, including equipment detained, marketed, or illegally supplied.  Such seizures, generally of counterfeit consumer goods (increasingly medicines), are routinely publicized on government websites and media outlets, although statistics on seizures are unavailable.  IPR violations are prosecuted, and penalties vary from imprisonment of three months to two years and fines from 100,000 to 5,000,000 CFA (approx. $166 to $8,333 based on an average exchange rate of 600 CFA to one dollar).

Côte d’Ivoire is not listed 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/

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 2020 $61,349 www.worldbank.org/en/country
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) N/A N/A N/A N/A 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 2020 -$1 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 2020 2.1% UNCTAD data available at

https://stats.unctad.org/handbook/EconomicTrends/
Fdi.html    

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 $11,997 Total Outward $2,520
France $2,532 21.1% Burkina Faso $426 16.9%
Canada $1,217 10.1% Mali $246 9.8%
United Kingdom $986 8.2% Liberia $227 9%
Morocco $801 6.7% Ghana $180 7.1%
Mauritius $664 5.5% Benin $177 7%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Croatia

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Croatia is generally open to foreign investment and the Croatian government continues to make efforts, through financial incentives, to attract foreign investors.  All investors, both foreign and domestic, are guaranteed equal treatment by law, with a handful of exceptions described below.  However, bureaucratic and political barriers remain.  Investors highlight that an unpredictable regulatory framework, lack of transparency, judicial inefficiencies, lengthy administrative procedures, lack of structural reforms, and unresolved property ownership issues all weigh heavily upon the investment climate.

Croatia is partnered with the World Bank through European Commission Directorate-General for Structural Reform Support on the “Croatia Business Environment Reform” project which intends to help Croatia implement various business reforms. The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development Directorate for Internationalization assists investors, including by offering services such as providing information on investment opportunities, offering support through all phases of business development, organizing tours of investment locations and arranging meetings, and promoting Croatia as an investment destination.  For more information, see:  http://investcroatia.gov.hr/ .  The Strategic Investment Act fast-tracks and streamlines bureaucratic processes for large projects valued at $10.7 million or more on the investor’s behalf.  Various business groups, including the American Chamber of Commerce, Foreign Investors’ Council, and the Croatian Employers’ Association, are in dialogue with the government about ways to make doing business easier and to keep investment retention as a priority.

Croatian law allows for all entities, both foreign and domestic, to establish and own businesses and to engage in all forms of remunerative activities.  Article 49 of the Constitution states all entrepreneurs have equal legal status.  However, the Croatian government restricts foreign ownership or control of services for a handful of strategic sectors:  inland waterways transport, maritime transport, rail transport, air to ground handling, freight-forwarding, publishing, ski instruction, and primary mandated healthcare.  Apart from these, the only regulatory requirements to market access involve occupational licensing requirements (architect, auditor, engineer, lawyer, and veterinarian, etc.), about which detailed information can be found at http://psc.hr/en/sectoral-requirements/ .  Business services such as consulting, marketing, creative industries, accounting (bookkeeping), and IT are not licensed. Relevant international comparison of the level of regulatory restrictiveness (including for Croatia and the U.S. which is represented by NY and TX) is available at https://www.oecd.org/economy/reform/indicators-of-product-market-regulation/ . Over 90 percent of the banking sector is foreign owned.

Croatia does not have a foreign investment screening mechanism, but the government designated the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development Internationalization Directorate as the “National Contact Point” for reviewing direct investments and responding to requests for information from EU Member States or the European Commission, per European Union Directive 2019/452.

The latest International Monetary Fund Article IV Staff Report from September 2021 includes a broad overview of economic and financial developments and is available at:

https://www.imf.org/en/Publications/CR/Issues/2021/09/10/Republic-of-Croatia-2021-Article-IV-Consultation-Press-Release-Staff-Report-and-Statement-465424 

The American Chamber of Commerce in Croatia publishes position papers on various topics related to the economy and investment climate, which can be found at: https://www.amcham.hr/en/position-papers-d207 .

The European Commission’s Country Report Croatia 2020 assesses the country’s economic situation and outlook: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/?qid=1584545612721&uri=CELEX%3A52020SC0510 .

B.  Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there were no civil society organizations that provided useful reviews of investment policy related concerns.  In March 2020, the Voice of Entrepreneurs business association was formed to advocate for economic measures and reforms to stimulate private sector growth.  The association has not yet published its policy recommendations.  

The Croatian government offers two e-government options for on-line business registration,  www.hitro.hr  and  start.gov.hr , both of which provide 24-hour access.  Start.gov.hr provides complete business registration for a limited liability company (d.o.o.), simple limited company (j.d.o.o.), or general business, without any need to physically enter a public administration office.  The procedure guarantees a short turnaround on requests and provides deadlines by which the company can expect to be registered.  The Start.gov.hr procedure eliminates fees for public notaries, proxies, seals and stamps, and reduces court registration fees by 50 percent.  Hitro.hr also provides on-line services but maintains offices in 60 Croatian cities and towns for those who want to register their business in person.

In 2021, the Global Enterprise Registration website ( www.GER.co ) rated Croatia’s business registration process 7 out of 10, up from 4 out of 10 in 2020.  The government pledged to improve conditions for business registration and continues to identify areas for removing burdensome regulations and processes.  Croatia’s business facilitation mechanism provides for equitable treatment to all interested in registering a business, regardless of gender or ethnicity.

The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) provides an outline of investment facilitation proposals at  https://investmentpolicy.unctad.org/country-navigator/53/croatia .

Croatian foreign direct investment totals approximately $85.84 million in the United States, according to Croatian National Bank figures.  The government does not promote or incentivize outward investment.  Croatia has no restrictions on domestic investors who wish to invest abroad.

5. Protection of Property Rights

The right to ownership of private property is enshrined in Croatia’s Constitution and in numerous acts and regulations.  The Ownership and Property Rights Act establishes procedures for foreigners to acquire property by inheritance as well as through legal transactions such as purchases, deeds, and trusts.  Croatia has a well-functioning banking system, which provides mortgages, while courts and cadaster offices handle property records.

Real property ownership can be particularly challenging in Croatia owing to unique titling issues, separate ownership of buildings and the land on which they sit, reciprocity laws, special treatment of agricultural land and coastal regions, and zoning disputes.  Inheritance laws have led to situations in which some properties have claims by dozens of legal owners, some of whom are deceased and others who have emigrated and cannot be found. For all these reasons, investors should seek competent, independent legal advice in this area. The U.S. Embassy maintains a list of English-speaking attorneys ( https://hr.usembassy.gov/u-s-citizen-services/local-resources-of-u-s-citizens/attorneys/). The Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development Directorate for Internationalization helps those seeking information about property status in Croatia. For more information, see:  http://investcroatia.gov.hr/ .

While the cadaster offices reliably maintain records, there is a portion of property in Croatia which has changed hands without appropriate documentation for various reasons, including avoidance of paying the title transfer fees or hiding wealth.  Historically, individuals and companies spent years in court attempting to resolve improper real estate documentation.  For this reason, potential buyers should seek to verify that the seller possesses clear title to both the land and buildings (which can be titled and owned separately).

A foreign investor, incorporated as a Croatian legal entity, may acquire and own property without ministry approval, with the caveat that the purchase by any private party of certain types of land (principally land directly adjacent to the sea or in certain geographically designated areas) can be restricted to foreign investors for purposes of national security. In order to acquire property by means other than inheritance or as an incorporated Croatian legal entity, foreign citizens must receive approval from the Ministry of Justice and Public Administration, a process which can be lengthy due to the need for interagency clearance.  While EU citizens are afforded the same rights as Croatian citizens in terms of purchasing property, the right of all other foreigners to acquire property in Croatia is based on reciprocity.

In the case of the United States, reciprocity exists on a state-by-state basis.  Croatia’s Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs has confirmed the existence of positive reciprocity for real estate purchases for residents of states listed in the table in the “S.A.D” line at https://mpu.gov.hr/informacije-o-uzajamnosti-u-stjecanju-prava-vlasnistva-nekretnina-izmedju-republike-hrvatske-i-drzava-izvan-europske-unije-republike-island-knezevine-lihtenstajn-kraljevine-norveske-te-svicarske-konfederacije/6186 .  Alternatively, for U.S. citizens from Arkansas, Hawaii, Kentucky, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Vermont, property acquisition is only allowed with the condition of Croatian permanent residence.  Residents of other states could face longer waiting periods.

Land ownership is distinct from ownership of buildings or facilities on the land.  Investors interested in acquiring state-owned companies from the Ministry of Physical Planning, Construction, and State Assets should seek legal advice to determine whether any deal also includes the right to ownership of the land on which a business is located, or merely the right to lease the land through a concession.

Inconsistent regulations and restrictions on coastal property ownership and construction have also provided challenges for foreign investors in the past.  Croatian law restricts construction and commercial use within 70 meters of the coastline. It is important to verify zoning regulations and the existence of necessary building permits, as some newer structures in coastal areas have been subject to destruction at the owner’s expense and without compensation for not conforming to local zoning regulations.  Investors should be particularly wary of promises that structures built without permits will be regularized retroactively.  The Act on Legalization of Buildings and Illegal Construction is intended to resolve ambiguities regarding ownership of real estate.

When purchasing land for construction purposes, potential buyers should determine whether the property is classified as agricultural or construction land.  The Agricultural Land Act provides for additional fees for re-zoning of up to 50 percent of the value of the land that is diverted from agriculture to construction purposes.  The Agricultural Land Agency works with local governments to review potential agricultural land purchases.  The sale of privately owned farmland is treated solely as the subject of a sales agreement between the parties.  Buyers of this type of land should still proceed with caution and be aware of potentially unresolved legacy issues with land ownership.  Land in Croatia is either publicly or privately owned and cannot be transferred to squatters solely based on physical presence.

The Ministry of Justice and Public Administration and the State Geodetic Office co-manage the National Program for Resolving Land Registration and Cadaster Issues.  This program includes a One Stop Shop system, which is a single point for accessing land registry and cadaster data.  For more information see http://www.uredjenazemlja.hr/default.aspx?id=17   where information is available in English.

Croatia is also working with the World Bank on implementation of the Integrated Land Administration System project (ILAS) to modernize the land administration and management system.  Croatia continues to process a backlog of cases and potential investors should seek a full explanation of land ownership rights before purchasing property. There is no property tax in Croatia.

Note that Croatia’s land records are available online at https://www.katastar.hr/en/#/ . Katastar.hr includes information on over 14 million pieces of land throughout the country and provides information in English.

Croatian intellectual property rights (IPR) legislation includes the Patent Act amended in January 2020, the Trademark Act, the Industrial Design Act, the Act on the Geographical Indications of Products and Services, the Act on the Protection of Layout Design of Integrated Circuits, and the Act on Copyrights and Related Rights, which was entirely rewritten and adopted in 2021.  The Law on Protecting Unpublished Information with Market Value went into force in 2018.  These acts define the process for protecting and enforcing IPR in Croatia.  Texts of these laws are available on the website of the State Intellectual Property Office at https://www.dziv.hr/en/ip-legislation/national-legislation/ .  The Law on Fees for the Intellectual Property Sector was adopted in 2021 in addition to the Regulation on Fees in the Intellectual Property Sector and Expert Services of the State Intellectual Property Office. All laws are harmonized with EU legislation.

The legal structure is strong, enforcement is good, and infringement of rights and theft of intellectual property are not common, although there are isolated incidents.

Croatian law enforcement officials keep public records of seized counterfeit goods.  According to a 2021 report from the Croatian Customs Office, officials stopped 472 international imports on the grounds of intellectual property rights violations, resulting in 657 procedures for temporary detainment of goods for a total of 209,972 items.  Customs also issued 94 domestic violations, seized 22,957 counterfeit goods, and initiated 26 criminal proceedings against individuals involved in violation of trademarks.  Croatian customs officials and the Ministry of Interior work together to locate and seize infringing goods.

Although some areas of IPR protection and enforcement remain problematic, Croatia is currently not included in the U.S. Trade Representative’s Special 301 Report or the Notorious Markets List.  Problem areas are piracy of digital media and counterfeiting.  Due to its geographic location, Croatia is also a transit route for various illegal products bound for other countries in the region.  There have been no problems reported with regard to registration of IPR in Croatia by American companies.  The American Chamber of Commerce maintains dialogue with the Croatian government on IPR issues.

As a WTO member, Croatia is party to the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).  Croatia is also a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and party to the Berne Convention, the Paris Convention, the Patent Cooperation Treaty, the WIPO Copyright Treaty, and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.  For a list of international conventions to which Croatia is a signatory, consult the State Intellectual Property Office’s website at http://www.dziv.hr/hr/zakonodavstvo/medjunarodni-ugovori/ .

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/ .

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) 2021 $65,675 2020 $56.8 www.worldbank.org/en/country
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical source* USG or international statistical source USG or international Source of data:  BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2021 $295 million N/A N/A 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) 2021 $85.84 million 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 2021 57.7% N/A N/A UNCTAD data available at

https://unctad.org/en/Pages/DIAE/World%20Investment%20Report/Country-Fact-Sheets.aspx 

* GDP for 2021 estimate and FDI   for Q1-Q3 2021 at www.hnb.hr Note:  U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis do not have GDP or FDI data available for 2020 at time of publishing.

Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI
Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data (through 2020)
From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)
Inward Direct Investment Outward Direct Investment
Total Inward $37,922 100% Total Outward $5,983 100%
The Netherlands $6,615 17.4% Slovenia $1,646 27.5%
Austria $5,096 13.4% Bosnia Herzegovina $1,405 23.4%
Luxembourg $4,308 11.4% Serbia $1,045 17.5%
 Germany $3,923 10.3% Switzerland $296 4.9%
Italy $3,659 9.6% Montenegro $290 4.8%
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

*FDI at  www.hnb.hr    for Q1-Q3 2020

Cyprus

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

The ROC has a favorable attitude towards FDI and welcomes U.S. investors. There is no discrimination against U.S. investment; however, there are some ownership limitations and licensing restrictions set by law on non-EU investment in certain sectors, such as private land ownership, media, and construction (see Limits on Foreign Control, below). The ROC promotes FDI through a dedicated agency, Invest Cyprus, which is tasked with attracting FDI in the key economic sectors of shipping, education, real estate, tourism and hospitality, energy, investment funds, filming, and innovation and startups. Invest Cyprus is the first point of contact for investors, and provides detailed information on the legal, tax, and business regulatory framework. The ROC and Invest Cyprus also promote an ongoing dialogue with investors through a series of promotion seminars each year. The Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI) is a robust organization with country-specific bilateral chambers, including the American Chamber (AmCham Cyprus), that is dedicated to promoting FDI and serving the business interests of foreign companies and trade partners operating in Cyprus.

For more information:

Invest Cyprus
9 Makariou III Avenue
Severis Building, 4th Floor
1965 Nicosia, Cyprus
Tel: +357 22 441133
Fax: +357 22 441134
Email: info@investcyprus.org.cy
Website: https://www.investcyprus.org.cy 

Cyprus Embassy Trade Center – New York
13 East 40th Street
New York, NY 10016
Phone: (212) 213-9100Fax: (212) 213-9100
Website: https://www.cyprustradeny.org/ 

AREA ADMINISTERED BY TURKISH CYPRIOTS

Turkish Cypriots welcome FDI and are eager to attract investments, particularly those that will lead to the transfer of advanced technology and technical skills. Priority is also given to investments in export-oriented industries. There are no laws or practices that discriminate against FDI. The “Turkish Cypriot Investment Development Agency (YAGA)” provides investment consultancy services, guidance on the legal framework, sector specific advice, and information about investor incentives.

“Turkish Cypriot Investment Development Agency” (“YAGA”)
Tel: +90 392 – 22 82317
Website: https://investnorthcyprus.gov.ct.tr/ 

REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS

The ROC does not currently have a mandatory foreign investment screening mechanism that grants approval to FDI other than sector-specific licenses granted by relevant ministries. Invest Cyprus does grant approvals for investment under the film production incentive scheme. Invest Cyprus often refers projects for review to other agencies.

The following restrictions apply to investing in the ROC:

  • Non-EU entities (persons and companies) may purchase only two real estate properties for private use (two holiday homes or a holiday home and a shop or office). This restriction does not apply if the investment property is purchased through a domestic Cypriot company or a corporation elsewhere in the EU. U.S. investment in such companies is welcome.
  • Non-EU entities cannot invest in the production, transfer, and provision of electrical energy. The Council of Ministers may refuse granting a license for investment in hydrocarbons prospecting, exploration, and exploitation to a third-country national or company if that third country does not allow similar investment by Cyprus or other EU member states. ROC hydrocarbon exploration is currently led by two U.S. companies.
  • Individual non-EU investors may not own more than five percent of a local television or radio station, and total non-EU ownership of any single local TV or radio station is restricted to a maximum of 25 percent.
  • The right to register as a building contractor in Cyprus is reserved for citizens of EU member states. Non-EU entities are not allowed to own a majority stake in a local construction company. Non-EU physical persons or legal entities may bid on specific construction projects but only after obtaining a special license from the Council of Ministers.
  • Non-EU entities cannot invest directly in private tertiary education institutions but may do so through ownership of Cypriot or EU companies.
  • The provision of healthcare services on the island is subject to certain restrictions, applying equally to all non-residents.
  • The Central Bank of Cyprus’s prior approval is necessary before any individual person or entity, whether Cypriot or foreign, can acquire more than 9.99 percent of a bank incorporated in Cyprus.

AREA ADMINISTERED BY TURKISH CYPRIOTS

According to the “Registrar of Companies Office,” all non-Turkish Cypriot ownership of construction companies is capped at 49 percent. Currently, the travel agency sector is closed to foreign investment. Registered foreign investors may buy property for investment purposes but are limited to one parcel or property. Foreign natural persons also have the option of forming private liability companies, and foreign investors can form mutual partnerships with one or more foreign or domestic investors.

Nothing to report.

REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS

The Ministry of Energy, Commerce and Industry (MECI) provides a “One Stop Shop” business facilitation service; contact details below. The One-Stop-Shop offers assistance with the logistics of registering a business in Cyprus to all investors, regardless of origin and size. Additionally, since September 2020, MECI offers a Fast Track Business Activation mechanism to provide efficient business registration services to eligible foreign investors who want to establish a physical presence on the island. This program has already generated interest from abroad, attracting several firms in the technology, IT, and communications sectors.

One-Stop-Shop & Point of Single Contact
Ministry of Energy, Commerce, and Industry (MECI)
13-15 Andreas Araouzos
1421 Nicosia, Cyprus
Tel. +357 22 409318 or 321
Fax: +357 22 409432
Email 1: onestopshop@meci.gov.cy
Email 2: psccyprus@meci.gov.cy 
Website: www.businessincyprus.gov.cy 

MECI’s Department of the Registrar of Companies and Official Receiver (DRCOR) provides the following services: Registration of domestic and overseas companies, partnerships, and business names; bankruptcies and liquidations; and trademarks, patents, and intellectual property matters.

Domestic and foreign investors may establish any of the following legal entities or businesses in the ROC:

  • Companies (private or public);
  • General or limited partnerships;
  • Business/trade name;
  • European Company (SE); and
  • Branches of overseas companies.

The registration process takes approximately two working days and involves completing an application for approval/change of name, followed by the steps outlined in the following link: http://www.businessincyprus.gov.cy/mcit/psc/psc.nsf/All/A2E29870C32D7F17C2257857002E18C9?OpenDocument. 

At the end of 2021, there were a total of 203,545 companies registered in the ROC, 12,604 of which had been registered in 2021 (for more statistics on company registrations, please see: https://www.companies.gov.cy/en/ ).

In addition to registering a business, foreign investors, like domestic business owners, are required to obtain all permits that may be necessary under Cypriot law. At a minimum, they must obtain residence and employment permits, register for social insurance, and register with the tax authorities for both income tax and Valued Added Tax (VAT). In order to use any building or premises for business, including commerce, industry, or any other income-earning activity, one also needs to obtain a municipal license. Additionally, town planning or building permits are required for building new offices or converting existing buildings. There are many sector-specific procedures. Information on all the above procedures is available online at the link above.

The World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business report ( http://www.doingbusiness.org/rankings)  ranked Cyprus 54th out of 190 countries for ease of doing business. Among the ten sub-categories that make up this index, Cyprus performed best in the areas of protecting minority investors (21/190) and paying taxes (29/190), and worst in the areas of enforcing contracts (142/190) and dealing with construction permits (125/190). Cyprus has recorded small gains in almost all subcategories since the 2019 report, with a substantial improvement in the area of paying taxes, achieving a small overall climb in its ranking since last year. Using another metric, in the Global Competitiveness Index, issued by the World Economic Forum, Cyprus maintained its ranking of 44th out of 141 countries in the 2019 edition. The two areas where Cyprus performed the worst in this report were its small market size and relatively low innovation capability. Since 2020, the World Bank Group has discontinued the Doing Business project and is now formulating a new approach to assessing the business and investment climate in economies worldwide.

The ROC follows the EU definition of micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), and foreign-owned MSMEs are free to take advantage of programs in Cyprus designed to help such companies.

Foreign investors can take advantage of the services and expertise of Invest Cyprus, an agency registered under the companies’ law and funded mainly by the state, dedicated to attracting investment.

Invest Cyprus
9A Makarios III Ave
Severis Bldg., 4th Flr.
1065 Nicosia
Tel. +357 22 441133
Fax: +357 22 441134
Email: info@investcyprus.org.cy 
Website: http://www.investcyprus.org.cy/ 

Additionally, the Association of Large Investment Projects, under the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce and Industry, can provide useful information on large ongoing investment projects:

Association of Large Investment Projects

38 Grivas Dhigenis Ave. & 3 Deligiorgis Str.,
P.O.Box 21455
1509 Nicosia
Tel: +357 22 889890
Fax: +357 22 667593
Email: bigprojects@ccci.org.cy 

Lastly, the Cyprus Country Profiler website offers some useful background on the ROC: https://www.cyprusprofile.com/ 

AREA ADMINISTERED BY TURKISH CYPRIOTS

Information available on the “Registrar of Companies’” website is available only in Turkish: http://www.rkmmd.gov.ct.tr/.   An online registration process for domestic or foreign companies does not exist and registration needs to be completed in person.

The “YAGA” website ( https://investnorthcyprus.gov.ct.tr /) provides explanations and guides in English on how to register a company in the area administrated by Turkish Cypriots.

As of March 2021, the “Registrar of Companies Office” statistics indicated there were 23,133 registered companies, 429 foreign companies; and 516 offshore companies.

The area administered by Turkish Cypriots defines MSMEs as entities having fewer than 250 employees. There are several grant programs financed through Turkish aid and EU aid targeting MSMEs.

The Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce (KTTO) publishes an annual Competitiveness Report on the Turkish Cypriot economy, based on the World Economic Forum’s methodology. KTTO’s 2019-2020 report ranked Northern Cyprus 107 among 141 economies, dropping eighteen places from its ranking in 2019. KTTO has not published reports since 2020.

For more information and requirements on establishing a company, obtaining licenses, and doing business visit:

“Turkish Cypriot Investment Development Agency” (“YAGA”)
Tel: +90 392 – 22 82317
Website: https://investnorthcyprus.gov.ct.tr/ 

Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce (KTTO)
https://www.ktto.net/en/ 
Tel: +90 392 – 228 37 60 / 228 36 45
Fax: +90 392 – 227 07 82

REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS

The ROC does not restrict outward investment, other than in compliance with international obligations such as specific UN Security Council Resolutions. In terms of programs to encourage investment, businesses in Cyprus have access to several EU programs promoting entrepreneurship, such as the European Commission’s Next Generation EU economic recovery package, or the Erasmus program for Young Entrepreneurs, in addition to the European Investment Bank’s guarantee facilities for SMEs for projects under USD 4.8 million (EUR 4 million).

AREA ADMINISTERED BY TURKISH CYPRIOTS

Turkish Cypriot “officials” do not incentivize or promote outward investment. The Turkish Cypriot authorities do not restrict domestic investors.

5. Protection of Property Rights

REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS

EU nationals and companies domiciled in any EU country are not subject to any restrictions when buying property in the ROC. By contrast, Cypriot law imposes significant restrictions on direct foreign ownership of real estate by non-EU individuals. Non-EU persons and entities may purchase a maximum of two real estate properties for private use (defined as a holiday home built on land of up to 4,014 square meters; plus a second home or office of up to 250 square meters, or shop of up to 100 square meters). Exceptions can be made for projects requiring larger plots of land but are difficult to obtain and rarely granted. This restriction applies to non-EU citizens or non-EU companies. Foreign investment in Cypriot or EU companies is welcome, but a legal entity is deemed to be controlled by non-EU citizens if it meets any of the conditions listed below:

  • 50 percent or more of its board members are non-EU citizens; or
  • 50 percent or more of its share capital belongs to non-EU citizens; or
  • Control (50 percent or more) belongs to non-EU citizens; or
  • Either the company’s Memorandum or Articles of Association provides authority to a non-EU citizen securing the company’s activities are conducted based on his/her will during the real estate acquisition period. In the case that the authority is provided to two or more persons, a legal entity is considered to be controlled by non-EU citizens if 50 percent or more of the people granted such authority are non-EU citizens.

Legal requirements and procedures for acquiring and disposing of property in Cyprus are complex, but professional help from real estate agents and developers to ease the burden is readily available. The ROC Department of Lands and Surveys keeps excellent records and follows internationally accepted procedures. Non-residents are allowed to sell their property and transfer abroad the amount originally paid, plus interest or profits, without restriction.

Additionally, there are restrictions on investing in Turkish Cypriot property located in the ROC. The Turkish Cypriot Property Management Service (TCPMS), established in 1991, administers properties of Turkish Cypriots who are not ordinarily residents of the government-controlled area. This service acts as the temporary custodian for such properties until a comprehensive political settlement is reached. The TCPMS is mandated to administer properties under its custodianship “in the manner most beneficial for the owner.” Ownership of Turkish Cypriot properties cannot change (except for inheritance purposes) except in exceptional cases when this is deemed beneficial for the owner or necessary for the public interest.

The World Bank’s 2020 Doing Business report ranked Cyprus 71st among 190 countries in terms of efficiency and quality for registering property.

AREA ADMINISTERED BY TURKISH CYPRIOTS

Special Note: Investors are advised to consider the risks associated with investing in immovable property in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots. Potential investors are strongly advised to obtain independent legal advice prior to purchasing or leasing property there. Purchase or use of property in the area administered by Turkish Cypriots is a contentious issue in Cyprus, as per the following note posted on the Republic of Cyprus Ministry of Foreign Affairs website: http://www.mfa.gov.cy/mfa/properties/occupiedarea_properties.nsf/index_en/index_en?OpenDocument .

For property in the Turkish Cypriot-administered areas, only pre-1974 title deeds are uncontested. In response to the European Court of Human Rights’ (ECHR) 2005 ruling that Turkey’s “subordinate local authorities” in Cyprus had not provided an adequate local remedy for property disputes, Turkish Cypriot authorities established an Immovable Property Commission (IPC) to handle property claimed by Greek Cypriots. In a March 2010 ruling, the ECHR recognized the IPC as a domestic remedy, but the ROC does not consider the IPC to be a legitimate body. As of March 9, 2022, the IPC had received 7,085 applications, of which 1, 311 have been concluded through friendly settlements, and 34 through formal hearings.

On January 19, 2010, the UK Court of Appeal enforced an earlier court decision taken in the ROC in support of a Greek Cypriot person’s trespassing claim effectively voiding the transfers of Greek Cypriot property in the Turkish Cypriot-administered areas. This landmark decision also establishes precedent in cases where foreign investors purchasing disputed properties outside of the ROC-controlled area can be found liable for damages.

There are significant restrictions on the foreign ownership of real estate. A 2008 “law” requires non- “TRNC” residents to apply to the “Council of Ministers” for permission to purchase real estate, and non-residents are limited to a single small property. Foreigners can, however, own or control more real estate through a “TRNC” registered company.

REPUBLIC OF CYPRUS

ROC intellectual property rights (IPR) law is harmonized with EU directives and the ROC is party to major international IPR instruments. The country promotes itself as a low-tax, high protection (i.e., EU standards) destination for IPR.

Cypriot law (Law 207(I) (2012)) places the burden of proof on the defendant in cases of IPR infringement. The law also allows the police to assess samples of pirated articles in lieu of the whole shipment and introduces the alternative for out-of-court settlement in some cases. Other important IPR laws include Law 103 (2007) on unfair commercial practices and Law 133(I) (2006) strengthening earlier legislation targeting copyright infringement. The Department of Customs and the Police confiscate thousands of counterfeit items every year, including articles of clothing, luggage, accessories, and pirated optical media.

Primary responsibility for enforcing ROC IPR legislation rests with the Cyprus Police and the Department of Customs. The Competition and Consumer Protection Service of the Ministry of Energy, Commerce, and Industry (MECI) also plays a supportive role, while the Registrar of Companies and Official Receiver handles administration of patents and copyrights.

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IPR offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at: http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/ .

Czechia

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment 

The Czech government actively seeks to attract foreign investment via policies that make the country a competitive destination for companies to locate, operate, and expand.  The Czech investment incentives legislation (amended Act No. 72/2000 Coll., effective as of September 6, 2019) creates incentive payments for high value-added investments that focus on R&D and create jobs for university graduates.  The law eliminates incentives for investments targeting low-skilled labor and establishes more favorable rules for technological investments in sectors such as aerospace, information and communication technology, life sciences, nanotechnology, and advanced segments of the automotive industry.  In addition, due to COVID-19, the government approved November 30, 2020, an amendment to this statute, which enables producers of personal protective equipment, medical devices, and pharmaceuticals to more easily obtain investment incentives.

CzechInvest, the government investment promotion agency that operates under the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT), negotiates on behalf of the Czech government with foreign investors.  In addition, CzechInvest provides assistance during implementation of investment projects, consulting services for foreign investors entering the Czech market, support for suppliers, and assistance for the development of innovative start-up firms.  There are no laws or practices that discriminate against foreign investors.

The Czech Republic is a recipient of substantial FDI.  Total foreign investment in the Czech Republic (equity capital + reinvested earnings + other capital) equaled USD 192.5 billion at the end of 2020, compared to USD 171.3 billion in 2019.

As a medium-sized, open, export-driven economy, the Czech market is strongly dependent on foreign demand, especially from EU partners.  In 2021, 84 percent of Czech exports went to fellow EU member states, with 32.4 percent to the Czech Republic’s largest trading partner, Germany, according to the Czech Statistical Office.  Since emerging from recession in 2013, the economy had enjoyed some of the highest GDP growth rates of the European Union until the COVID-19 outbreak.  While GDP declined by 5.6 percent in 2020, it rebounded in 2021 and grew by 3.3 percent.  The Ministry of Finance is forecasting 3.1 percent growth for 2022.

The Czech Republic has no plans to adopt the euro as it believes having its own currency and independent monetary policy is helpful for managing economic crises such as the one caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The slow pace of legislative and judicial reforms has posed obstacles to investment, competitiveness, and company restructuring.  The Czech government has harmonized its laws with EU legislation and the acquis communautaire.  This effort involved positive reforms of the judicial system, civil administration, financial markets regulation, protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights, and in many other areas important to investors.

While there have been many success stories involving American and other foreign investors, a handful have experienced problems, for example in the media industry.  Both foreign and domestic businesses voice concerns about corruption.

Long-term economic challenges include dealing with an aging population and diversifying the economy away from manufacturing toward a more high-tech, services-based, knowledge economy.

Foreign individuals or entities can operate a business under the same conditions as Czechs.  Foreign entities need to register their permanent branches with the Czech Commercial Register.  Some professionals, such as architects, physicians, lawyers, auditors, and tax advisors, must register for membership in the appropriate professional chamber.  In general, licensing and membership requirements apply equally to foreign and domestic professionals.

In response to the European Commission’s September 2017 investment screening directive, the Czech government adopted foreign investment screening legislation.  The law came into effect on May 1, 2021, and gives the government the ability to review greenfield investments and acquisitions by non-EU foreign investors.  The law allows the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) to screen FDI in virtually any sector of the Czech economy but specifies four high-risk sectors for which investment screening is mandatory: critical infrastructure, ICT systems used for critical infrastructure, military equipment, and sensitive dual use items.  Outside these critical sectors, non-EU investors are under no obligation to report acquisitions or greenfield investments, but MOIT can retroactively review investments at any point within five years if security concerns arise.  Screening of acquisitions is triggered when a non-EU buyer attempts to make a purchase that would give it at least 10 percent of the voting rights of a Czech company.  However, screening is possible at an even lower threshold in cases where the foreign investor has additional means of exerting potentially malign control over a Czech company, such as through appointment of staff to key positions.  Furthermore, the law gives regulators considerable leeway to designate an investor as “non-EU” if the investor is “indirectly controlled” by non-EU business or individuals.

As of early 2012, U.S. and other non-EU nationals could purchase real estate, including agricultural land, in the Czech Republic without restrictions.  However, following the implementation of the investment screening law as of May 1, 2021, land purchases by non-EU investors may be screened if located near critical infrastructure, such as military installations.  Enterprises are permitted to engage in any legal activity with the previously noted limitations in sensitive sectors.  The right of foreign and domestic private entities to establish and own business enterprises is guaranteed by law.  Laws on auditing, accounting, and bankruptcy are in force, including the use of international accounting standards (IAS).

The OECD last conducted an economic survey of the government in 2020.

Individuals must complete a number of bureaucratic requirements to set up a business or operate as a freelancer or contractor.  MOIT provides an electronic guide for obtaining a business license.  The guide offers step-by-step assistance, including links to related legislation and statistical data, and specifying authorities with whom to work (such as business registration, tax administration, social security, and municipal authorities).  The guide is available at: https://www.mpo.cz/en/business/licensed-trades/guide-to-licensed-trades/.  MOIT also has established regional information points to provide consulting services related to doing business in the Czech Republic and EU.  A list of contact points is available at:  https://www.businessinfo.cz/en/starting-a-business/starting-up-points-of-single-contact-psc/addresses-points-of-single-contact-psc/.

The average time required to start a business is 25 days according to the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ Index.  The Czech Republic’s Business Register is publicly accessible and provides details on business entities including legal addresses and major executives.  An application for an entry into the Business Register can be submitted in a hard copy, via a direct entry by a public notary, or electronically, subject to meeting online registration criteria requirements.  The Business Register is publicly available at:  https://or.justice.cz/ias/ui/rejstrik.  The Czech Republic’s Trade Register is an online information system that collects and provides information on entities facilitating small trade and craft-oriented business activities, as specifically determined by related legislation.  It is available online at:  http://www.rzp.cz/eng/index.html.

The Czech government does not incentivize outward investment.  The volume of outward investment is lower than incoming FDI.  According to the latest data from the Czech National Bank, Czech outward investments amounted to USD51.3 billion in 2020, compared to inward investments of USD 195.2 billion.  However, according to the Export Guarantee and Insurance Corporation (EGAP), Czech companies increasingly invest abroad to get closer to their customers, save on transport costs, and shorten delivery times.  As part of EU sanctions, there is a total ban on EU investment in North Korea as of 2017.

5. Protection of Property Rights  

Real estate (land and buildings) located in the Czech Republic must be registered in the national Cadastral Register under the Cadastral Office.  The Cadastral Register contains information on plots of land and buildings, housing units and non-residential premises, liens, and other information and is publicly available online in Czech only at:  https://nahlizenidokn.cuzk.cz/.  Transfer of ownership title to real estate (e.g., sale and purchase agreement) is effective from the date of execution of a written agreement and registration of the transfer of the ownership title in the Cadastral Register.

There is a negligible proportion of land that does not have clear title.  If property legally purchased becomes unoccupied, property ownership does not revert to squatters.

The Czech Republic is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and party to the Berne Convention, the Paris Convention, the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT), the WIPO Copyright Treaty, and the WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty.  Domestic legislation protects all intellectual property rights (IPR), including patents, copyrights, trademarks, industrial designs, and utility models.  Amendments to the trademark law and the copyright law have brought Czech law into compliance with relevant EU directives and the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).  The Criminal Code sets the maximum penalty of eight years of imprisonment for trademark, industrial rights, and copyright violations.  The Customs Administration of the Czech Republic and the Czech Commercial Inspection have legal authority to seize counterfeit goods.  Information on seizures of counterfeit goods and cases of IPR infringement are tracked by the Customs Administration.  Information is available in Czech at https://www.celnisprava.cz/cz/statistiky/Stranky/dusevni-vlastnictvi.aspx.

The Czech Republic was removed from the Watch List of the U.S. Trade Representative Special 301 Report in 2011.  While online piracy in the Czech Republic has been cited by some U.S. entities as an area of concern, the legal framework for protecting and enforcing IPR has been tested and proven successful in punishing infringers.  In response to the 2019 EU Copyright Directive, the Czech government proposed in November 2020 an amendment to their Copyright Act.  The amendment will clarify the right of copyright holders to receive payment for online distribution of their content by third parties.  The Czech Republic is not listed as hosting any physical markets in USTR’s 2021 Notorious Markets Report, but it reportedly hosts a website containing infringing content.

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IPR offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at http://www.wipo.int/directory/en/.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

The ascension of Felix Tshisekedi to the Presidency in January 2019 and his welcoming attitude toward foreign direct investment (FDI), particularly from the United States, have raised hopes that the GDRC can impose and monitor investor-friendly policies. FDI-friendly laws exist, but the judicial system is slow to protect investors’ rights and is susceptible to political pressure and corruption. Investors hope that Tshisekedi can create a more favorable environment by improving the rule of law and tackling corruption. The DRC’s rich endowment of natural resources, large population, and generally open trading system offer significant potential opportunities for U.S. investors. For more than a decade, the DRC has undertaken reforms related to investment in order to make its business environment competitive and attractive including reforms to the investment code, the mining code, the insurance code, the agricultural Act, the Act on the liberalization of electricity, and the telecommunications code. The GDRC has also promoted improvements in the tax, customs, parafiscal, non-tax and foreign exchange regimes, which are applicable to collaboration agreements and cooperation projects, as well as the decree on the strategic partnership on value chains, the Industrial Property Act, the Public-Private Partnership Act, the Competition Act, and the Special Economic Zones Act.

The main regulations governing FDI are found in the Investment Code Act (No. 004/2002 of February 21, 2002). Current regulations reserve the practice of small-scale commerce and retail commerce in DRC to nationals and prohibit majority ownership by foreigners of agricultural enterprises. The ordinance of “August 8, 1990” clearly states that “small business may only be carried out by Congolese”. Foreign investors must limit themselves to import trade and wholesale and semi-wholesale trade. Investors fear that the ban on foreign agricultural ownership will stifle any attempt to revive the agrarian sector.

The National Investment Promotion Agency (ANAPI) is the official investment agency, providing investment facilitation services for initial investments above $200,000. It is mandated to promote the positive image of the DRC and specific investment opportunities; advocate for the improvement of the business climate in the country; and provide administrative support to new foreign investors who decide to establish or expand their economic activities on the national territory. More information is available at https://www.investindrc.cd/ .

The GDRC maintains an ongoing dialogue with investors to h