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Executive Summary

Angola is a lower middle-income country located in southern Africa with a USD 114 .5 billion gross domestic product (GDP), a 29.1 million population and a per capita income of USD 3,924 according to 2018 International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates. The third largest economy in sub-Saharan Africa, Angola is a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and produces an average of 1.373 million barrels per day, the second highest volume in the sub-Saharan region behind Nigeria. Angola also holds significant proven gas reserves as well as extensive mineral resources.  Oil still accounts for 90 percent of exports and 37 percent of GDP. The Government of Angola (GRA)’s commitment to improve oil sector transparency led to the creation of the National Oil and Gas Agency (ANPG), an independent regulator to manage oil and gas concessions, which also ensures that the state-owned oil monopoly Sonangol will relinquish substantial control in the sector and on its core upstream business. In addition to reforms in the oil sector, the administration of President Joao Lourenco has implemented numerous other structural reforms to improve macroeconomic stability and the climate for economic growth.  In early 2018, the government scrapped the Angolan currency’s fixed peg to the U.S. dollar over concerns of dwindling foreign exchange reserves, and to institute a more transparent market-based foreign exchange regime. A new private investment law and an antitrust law in 2018 have been key administration initiatives to encourage private-sector competitiveness and growth. 

Although the more than 47 percent devaluation of the local currency throughout 2018 has improved exchange rate flexibility, it has also increased public debt, now close to 85 percent of GDP.  To anchor rising inflation against the impact of the exchange rate devaluation, the Central Bank of Angola (BNA) adopted a restrictive monetary policy and implemented various other financial sector policies.  The BNA also increased the minimum share and start-up requirements for commercial banks, and closed several non-complaint commercial banks.

In early December 2018, the Lourenco administration rolled-out an ambitious five-year strategy to tackle corruption, money laundering, and other economic and financial crimes. The strategy focuses on three main pillars – prevention, prosecution, and institutional capacity building, and includes short and long-term initiatives for a-whole-of society approach to help reduce the impact of corruption.  These strong anti-corruption initiatives led to the detention of several high-level public and private figures, and the president dismantled most of the influence of his predecessor’s family over key sectors of the economy. 

The business environment remains challenging, spurred by a tedious bureaucracy with limited bottom-up leadership.  Angola ranked 173 out of 190 in the 2019 World Bank’s Doing Business ranking.  Inadequate supply chain infrastructure, slow and inefficient institutions, and corruption continue to constrain the private sector’s contribution to growth. A lack of institutional, human, and material capacity also risks drastically undercutting the government’s anti-corruption intentions.  Rolling back dependency on oil will require significant investment in other economic sectors to stimulate growth.  Opportunities lie in the precious minerals, tourism, agriculture, fisheries, and hydropower sectors.

Continued infrastructure development opportunities are most obvious in the areas of public transportation, tourism, port rehabilitation, energy and power, telecommunications, mining, natural gas, and in creating national oil refining capacity.

Key sectors that have attracted significant regional and international investment in the country include energy, construction, and oil and gas.  Non-oil economic sectors such as agriculture, energy, fisheries, and extractives will open up new areas to foreign and national investment.  As the country continues to seek to diversify its economy, an emerging sector is agriculture, in which the country lacks technical knowhow and the necessary startup capital resources to develop.  Agriculture represents only 11 percent of GDP. Angola has decided to open up its telecoms market in a bid to attract foreign capital. 

Key Issues to watch:

  • Angola continues to suffer from a relatively poor investment climate due in large part to the lack of openness to competition in the private sector and the dominance of the state on state-owned enterprises and in the economy.  However, the new government of President Lourenco has prioritized the privatization of 74 state-owned enterprises by 2020.
  • Angola benefits from a relatively stable and predictable political environment, especially when compared to its neighbors in the region.  A peaceful transition following presidential elections in 2017, resulting in new leadership after 38 years of Jose Eduardo dos Santos rule, has raised local and international expectations for change.
  • Angola will hold its first municipal elections in 2020, which may lead to some decentralization of decision-making authority, disbursement, and management of public resources.
  • There is an abundant supply of unskilled labor, particularly in the capital, Luanda. Skilled professionals are available, but often require additional training.
  • Portuguese is commonly spoken, while English competency levels are relatively low.
  • The new private investment law of 2018 provides greater tax incentives to companies investing in the domestic economy, and does away with the local partnership requirements for foreign investment and ends minimum levels for investment.
  • Real estate and living expenses remain expensive, but have recently moderated due to the ongoing economic crisis, and the local currency weakening against the U.S. dollar.  In 2018, Luanda ranked sixth as the most expensive city for expatriates globally, down from first in 2017.
  • Infrastructure is limited, roads are often in poor condition, power outages are common, and water availability can be unreliable.
  • The investment climate remains hampered by rampant corruption, and a complex, opaque regulatory environment, as reflected by rankings from globally recognized entities outlined in Table 1.
  • Despite the slight upswing in global oil prices in 2018, the oil crisis continues to affect the Angolan economy, creating drastic losses in export revenue and a severe limitation in foreign exchange, forcing substantial cuts in government spending.

Angola’s high external imbalances and forex shortages have hurt private sector growth, and rapidly declining foreign currency reserves.  However, the government approved a law on February 23, 2018 that provided amnesty to any citizen repatriating more than USD100, 000 from overseas accounts until year-end, which the government hopes will help increase its access to forex.

Repatriation of capital, dividends, and transfers of remittances abroad remain challenging.

Portfolio investment in Angola is embryonic.

Women empowerment:

Although only 23 percent of Angola’s entrepreneurs are women, Angola boasts one of the highest growth rates of female entrepreneurs in Africa.  However, the government has not instituted any significant reforms to increase the percentage of female entrepreneurs and limited access to credit remains a significant impediment to entrepreneurship in general.

Table 1: Key Metrics and Rankings

Measure Year Index/Rank Website Address
TI Corruption Perceptions Index 2018 165 of 180 https://www.transparency.org/country/AGO 
World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business” 2019 173 of 190 http://www.doingbusiness.org/en/rankings
Global Innovation Index 2018 N/A of 126 https://www.globalinnovationindex.org/analysis-indicator
U.S. FDI in partner country ($780M USD, stock positions) 2017 $780 https://ustr.gov/countries-regions/africa/southern-africa/angola
World Bank GNI per capita 2017 $3,570 https://data.worldbank.org/country/angola

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies on Foreign Direct Investment

Angola’s business environment remains one of the most difficult in the world.  Investors must factor in pervasive corruption, the legacies of and impulses toward central planning and control, an underdeveloped financial system, loss of U.S. corresponding banking relationships, abundant but unskilled labor, and extremely high operating costs.  Surface transportation inside the country is slow and expensive, while bureaucracy and port inefficiencies complicate trade and raise costs.

The new government is making concerted efforts to improve and diversify sources of foreign direct investment (FDI). The New Private Investment Law (NPIL) approved by Presidential Decree 10/18, of June 26, 2018 eliminates preferential treatment to local investors and offers equal treatment to foreign investors. There are no laws or practices that discriminate against foreign investors, including U.S. investors.  FDI is concentrated in the oil industry with negligible investments in the diamond, power generation, infrastructure and health sectors. The NPIL also eliminated local content provisions for foreign investors, with local content provisions now only applicable to investments specific to the oil & gas, mining, banking and financial services, aviation, and shipping sectors.

In addition to changes to the investment legal framework, the government created the Agency for Private Investment and Export Promotion (AIPEX), a single state-run agency with the goal of facilitating investment and export processes.  In September 2018, the American Chamber of Commerce in Angola (AMCHAM-Angola) and AIPEX launched Angola’s first investment guide in New York. Angola’s first anti-trust law, approved on May 17, aims to ensure and safeguard sound competition practices in the award and enforcement of public contracts.

The government launched a series of measures to expedite the issuance of tourist and business visas, a historically difficult process that has been a major area of complaint from international companies, expatriate workers, and investors.  The government abolished the visitor visa requirement for several countries in the region, and as of March 30, it began issuing tourism visas on arrival at the airport to citizens from 61 countries/regions, including the United States, China, and the European Union (EU).

President Lourenço continued a concerted effort to restore investor confidence by prioritizing anti-corruption and the fight against patronage politics.  In early December 2018, his administration rolled-out an ambitious five-year strategy to tackle corruption, money laundering and other economic and financial crimes. The strategy focuses on three main pillars – prevention, prosecution, and institutional capacity building, and includes short and long-term initiatives for a-whole-of society approach to help reduce the impact of corruption.  These strong anti-corruption initiatives led to the detention of several high-level public and private figures, and the President dismantled most of the influence of his predecessor’s family over key sectors of the economy. These reforms have attracted considerable international attention.

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

With the NPIL, the Angolan government eliminated the 35 percent local content requirement in foreign investments, and it offered incentives to companies investing in the domestic economy, while maintaining minimal FDI screening processes, bringing it more in line with those of its sub-Saharan African neighbors.  Foreign ownership remains limited to 49 percent in the oil and gas sectors, 50 percent in insurance, and 10 percent in the banking sectors. There are several objectives that the GRA seeks to accomplish through its FDI screening process: 1) create jobs for Angolans or transfer expertise to Angolan companies as part of the “Angolanization” plan; 2) protect sensitive industries such as defense and finance; 3) prevent capital flight or any other behavior that could threaten the stability of the Angolan economy; and, 4) diversify the economy.

Other Investment Policy Reviews

Angola has been a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO) since 1996. There have been no investment policy reviews for Angola from either the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) or the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in the last five years.  The WTO performed a policy review of Angola in September 2015. Excerpts of the Trade Policy Review concluding remarks by the WTO Chairperson were as follows:

“Members noted that Angola had implemented a number of measures aimed at import substitution.  Its applied tariff rates have been significantly increased and range from 2 percent to 50 percent, with a simple average of 10.9 percent (up from 7.4 percent in 2005).  Members urged Angola to rectify the instances where applied tariff rates and other duties and charges exceed the corresponding bound levels. In lieu of import substitution, members suggested that Angola reduce production costs through lower import tariffs on inputs and further trade facilitation measures with a view to enhancing competitiveness and promoting local production.”

Members welcomed Angola’s new mining code and sought information about opportunities for foreign operators.  They sought clarifications about Angola’s agricultural policy, which deals with food security and aims for sustainability of its fisheries sector.  Some participants inquired about Angola’s plans to broaden its General Agreements on Trade in Services (GATS) commitments beyond its three existing sectors.  Members were also interested in the Government’s priorities regarding, inter alia, competition policy, Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) and Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) regimes, and state-trading and state-owned enterprises.  Noting that Angola’s intellectual property regime had not been substantially updated since 1992, members urged the country to implement the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and to broaden its participation in international conventions on intellectual property.  The Customs Tariff for import/export rights version of 2017 of the World Customs Organization (WCO) harmonized system came into force on August 9, 2018. 

Business Facilitation

The World Bank Doing Business 2019 report ranked Angola 173 out of 182 countries and also recorded an improvement in Luanda’s electrical grid and overall access to electricity, and the government’s facilitation of border trade by improving infrastructure at the Port of Luanda. Dealing with construction permits was made easier and less time-consuming because of improvements in the permit applications system, according to the World Bank.  Angola also made exporting and importing easier by implementing an automated and standardized customs data management system, ASYCUDA World (Automated System for Customs Data), and by upgrading its port community system to allow for electronic information exchange between different parties involved in the import/export process. Launching a business typically requires 36 days, compared with a regional average of 27 days.

In 2012, the government opened approximately twenty “Balcoes Unicos do Empreendedor” (Single “One stop” Shop for Entrepreneurs).  In addition to the Balcoes Unicos process, new business owners must also complete processes at the Ministry of Commerce, the tax office, and a provincial court in the location where the business has its headquarters. The newAIPEX that replaced the Angolan Investment and Export Promotion Agency (APIEX) now serves as a one-stop shop to promote investments, exports and the international competitiveness of Angolan companies. The new state-run private investment agency website is http://www.aipex.gov.ao/PortalAIPEX/#!/  . Contact Information: Departamento de Promoção e Captação do Investimento; Agencia de Investimento Privado e Promoção de Investimentos e Exportações de Angola (AIPEX). Rua Kwamme Nkrumah No.8, Maianga, Luanda, Angola Tel: (+244) 995 28 95 92| 222 33 12 52 Fax: (+244) 222 39 33 81

To encourage the flow of investors and boost tourism, Presidential Decree 56/18, of February 20, 2018 exempts several neighboring countries from visa entry requirements, and as of March 30, visas upon arrival are available to 61 countries/regions including the United States and the EU upon presentation of proof of accommodation and financial support. The 2018 NPIL eliminates the 35 percent local partner stake in the capital structure of foreign investment in the electricity and water, tourism, transport and logistics, construction, media, telecommunications, and information technology (IT) sectors.

Angolan law provides equal access for women entrepreneurs and underrepresented minorities in the economy.  However, in practice, the investment facilitation mechanisms do not provide added advantages to these groups.  Programs to benefit female entrepreneurs and underrepresented groups such as startup projects, business capacity building and development, and financial assistance including micro credit, are mainly implemented by non-governmental organizations and international financial institutions such as the African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Bank (WB), and private sector companies.

Outward Investment

The Angolan Government does not promote or incentivize outward investment nor does it restrict Angolans from investing abroad.  Investors are free to invest in any foreign jurisdiction. According to data from the BNA, in 2018, government did not invest abroad but received returns on previous investments abroad.

2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties

Angola is party to several investment related treaties and conventions.  It has 40 trade agreements signed with more than 30 countries, mainly the Southern African Development Community (SADC) states, in areas such as trade and investment, human capacity development and technical assistance. In the Americas, Angola has trade agreements with the United States, Argentina, Cuba and Ecuador.  In Europe, agreements exist with Spain, Russia, Hungary, Portugal, Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Romania.  Agreements in Asia are with South Korea, India, China and Vietnam. Israel is the only Middle Eastern country with a trade agreement with Angola.

In May 2009, Angola signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) with the United States, intended to provide a forum to address trade issues and to help enhance trade and investment relations between the two countries.  The first meeting of the TIFA Council under this agreement took place in June 2010 with the recent meetings in 2015 and 2016 at the working level focused on a plan development, AGOA market access, and strategies to improve the business climate, but with limited engagement by the Angolan government under the then Minister of Commerce. The current Minister of Commerce has requested formal consultations under our TIFA Agreement.

In April 2019, the United States and Angola held the fourth session of the U.S.-Angola Strategic Dialogue, which focused on improving bilateral engagement on trade and investments, and boosting U.S. investment in Angola.  Angola has bilateral investment agreements in force with Cabo Verde, Germany, Italy, and Russia. Angola has also signed agreements with Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Brazil, France, and the United Kingdom, but these agreements have not yet entered into force.  A list of current bilateral investment treaties and their status can be found on the UNCTAD website.

Angola does not have a bilateral taxation treaty with the United States but the government has entered the Foreign Account Tax Complaint Act (FATCA) into force ensuring that Angolan financial institutions report to the IRS information on financial accounts held by U.S. taxpayers. Angola has bilateral taxation treaties with United Arab Emirates, China and Portugal.

3. Legal Regime

Transparency of the Regulatory System

Angola’s regulatory system is complex, vague, and inconsistently enforced.  In many sectors, no effective regulatory system exists due to a lack of political will, and institutional and human capacity.  The banking system is slowly adhering to International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). Public sector companies (SOEs) are still far from practicing IFRS.  The public does not participate in draft bills or regulations formulation, nor does a public online location exist where the public can access this information for comment or hold government representatives accountable for their actions.  The Angolan Communications Institute (INACOM) sets prices for telecommunications services and is the regulatory authority for the telecommunications sector. Revised energy-sector licensing regulations have permitted some purchase power agreements (PPA) participation.

Overall, Angola’s national regulatory system does not correlate to other international regulatory systems.  However, Angola is a member of the WB, ADB AfDB, OPEC (January 2007), the United Nations (UN) and most of its specialized agencies – International Conference on Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), UNCTAD, theIMF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the WTO, and has a partnership agreement with the EU.  At the regional level, the GRA is part of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries (CPLP), and theSADC, among other organizations. Angola has yet to join the SADC Free Trade Zone of Africa as a full member. On March 21, 2018 together with 44 African countries, Angola joined the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), an agreement aimed at paving the way for a liberalized market for goods and services across Africa. Angola is also a member of the Port Management Association of Eastern and Southern Africa (PMAESA), which seeks to maintain relations with other port authorities or associations, regional and international organizations and governments of the region to hold discussions on matters of common interest.

Angola became a member of the WTO on November 23,1996.  However, it is not party to the Plurilateral Agreements on Government Procurement, the Trade in Civil Aircraft Agreement and has not yet notified the WTO of its state-trading enterprises within the meaning of Article XVII of the GATT.  A government procurement management framework introduced in late 2010 stipulates a preference for goods produced in Angola and/or services provided by Angolan or Angola-based suppliers. TBT regimes are not coordinated. There have been no investment policy reviews for Angola from either the OECD or UNCTAD in the last four years.  Angola conducts several bilateral negotiations with Portuguese Speaking countries (PALOPS), Cuba and Russia and extends trade preferences to China due to credit facilitation terms, while attempting to encourage and protect local content.

Regulation reviews are based on scientific or data driven assessments or baseline surveys. Evaluation is based on data.  However, evaluation if not made available for public comment.

The National Assembly is Angola’s main legislative body with the power to approve laws on all matters (except those reserved by the constitution to the government) by simple majority (except if otherwise provided in the constitution).  Each legislature comprises four legislative sessions of twelve months starting on October 15 annually. National Assembly members, parliamentary groups, and the government hold the power to put forward all draft-legislation. However, no single entity can present draft laws that involve an increase in the expenditure or decrease in the State revenue established in the annual budget.

The president promulgates laws approved by the assembly and signs government decrees for enforcement. The state reserves the right to have the final say in all regulatory matters and relies on sectorial regulatory bodies for supervision of institutional regulatory matters concerning investment.  The Economic Commission of the Council of Ministers oversees investment regulations that affect the country’s economy including the ministries in charge. Other major regulatory bodies responsible for getting deals through include:

  • The Ministry of Petroleum:  The government regulatory and oversight body responsible for regulating oil exploration and production activities.  The national concessionaire is Sonangol EP, which is the holder of the concession rights and has the authority to conduct, execute, and ensure oil operations in Angola.
  • The Regulatory Institute of Electricity and Water Services (IRSEA):  The regulatory authority for renewable energies and enforcing powers of the electricity regulatory authority.
  • The Angolan Communications Institute (INACOM):  The institute sets prices for telecommunications services and is the regulatory authority for the telecommunications sector.  Revised energy-sector licensing regulations have improved legal protection for investors to attract more private investment in electrical infrastructure, such as dams and hydro distribution stations.

Angola acceded to the New York Arbitration Convention on August 24, 2016 paving the way for the first time for effective recognition and enforcement in Angola of awards rendered outside of Angola and subject to reciprocity.  Angola participates in the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), which includes a peer review mechanism on good governance and transparency. Enforcement and protection of investors is under development in terms of regulatory, supervisory, and sanctioning powers.  Investor protector mechanisms are weak or almost non-existent.

There are no informal regulatory processes managed by nongovernmental organizations or private sector associations, and the government does not allow the public to engage in the formulation of legislation or to comment on draft bills.  Procurement laws and regulations are unclear, little publicized, and not consistently enforced. Oversight mechanisms are weak, and no audits are required or performed to ensure internal controls are in place or administrative procedures are followed.  Inefficient bureaucracy and possible corruption frequently lead to payment delays for goods delivered, resulting in an increase in the price the government must pay.

No regulatory reform enforcement mechanisms have been implemented since the last ICS report, in particular those relevant to foreign investors.

The Diário da República (the Federal Register equivalent), is a legal document where key regulatory actions are officially published.

International Regulatory Considerations

Angola’s overall national regulatory system does not correlate to other international regulatory systems and is overseen by its constitution.  Angola is not a full member of the International Standards Organization (ISO), but has been a corresponding member since 2002. The Angolan Institute for Standardization and Quality (IANORQ) within the Ministry of Industry coordinates the country’s establishment and implementation of standards.  Angola is an affiliate country of the International Electro-technical Commission that publishes consensus-based International Standards and manages conformity assessment systems for electric and electronic products, systems and services.

A government procurement management framework introduced in late 2010 stipulates a preference for goods produced in Angola and/or services provided by Angolan or Angola-based suppliers.  TBT regimes are not coordinated.

Angola acceded to the Kyoto Convention on February 23, 2017.

Legal System and Judicial Independence

Angola’s formal legal system is primarily based on the Portuguese legal system and can be considered civil law based, with legislation as the primary source of law.  Courts base their judgments on legislation and there is no binding precedent as understood in common law systems. The constitution proclaims the constitution as the supreme law of Angola (article 6(1) and all laws and conduct are valid only if they conform to the constitution (article 6(3).

The Angolan justice system is slow, arduous, and often partial.  Legal fees are high, and most businesses avoid taking commercial disputes to court in the country.  The World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 survey ranks Angola 186 out of 190 countries on contract enforcement, and estimates that commercial contract enforcement, measured by time elapsed between filing a complaint and receiving restitution, takes an average of 1,296 days, at an average cost of 44.4 percent of the claim.

Angola has commercial legislation that governs all commercial activities but no specialized court.  In 2008, the Angolan attorney general ruled that Angola’s specialized tax courts were unconstitutional.  The ruling effectively left businesses with no legal recourse to dispute taxes levied by the Ministry of Finance, as the general courts consistently rule that they have no authority to hear tax dispute cases, and refer all cases back to the Ministry of Finance for resolution.  Angola’s Law 22/14, of December 5, 2014, which approved the Tax Procedure Code (TPC), sets forth in its Article 5 that the courts with tax and customs jurisdiction are the Tax and Customs Sections of the Provincial Courts and the Civil, Administrative, Tax and Customs Chamber of the Supreme Court.  Article 5.3 of the law specifically states that tax cases pending with other courts must be sent to the Tax and Customs Section of the relevant court, except if the discovery phase (i.e., the production of proof) has already begun.

The judicial system is administered by the Ministry of Justice at trial level for provincial and municipal courts and the supreme court nominates provincial court judges.  In 1991, the constitution was amended to guarantee judicial independence. However, as per the 2010 constitution, the president appoints supreme court judges for life upon recommendation of an association of magistrates and appoints the attorney general.  Confirmation by the General Assembly is not required. The system lacks resources and independence to play an effective role and the legal framework is obsolete, with much of the criminal and commercial code reflecting colonial era codes with some Marxist era modifications.  Courts remain wholly dependent on political power.

There is a general right of appeal to the court of first instance against decisions from the primary courts.  To enforce judgments/orders, a party must commence further proceedings called executive proceedings with the civil court.  The main methods of enforcing judgments are:

  • Execution orders (to pay a sum of money by selling the debtor’s assets);
  • Delivery up of assets; and,
  • Provision of information on the whereabouts of assets.

The Civil Procedure Code also provides ordinary and extraordinary appeals.  Ordinary appeals consist of first appeals, review appeals, interlocutory appeals, and full court appeals, while extraordinary appeals consist of further appeals and third-party interventions.  Generally, an appeal does not operate as a stay of the decision of the lower court unless expressly provided for as much in the Civil Procedure Code.

Laws and Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

AIPEX — former APIEX — is the investment and export promotion center tasked with promoting Angola’s export potential, legal framework, environment, and investment opportunities in the country and abroad.  Housed within the Ministry of Commerce, AIPEX will also be responsible for ensuring the application of the 2018 NPIL on Foreign Direct investments, entered into force on June 26, 2018.

Competition and Anti-Trust Laws

On May 17, 2018 Angola’s National Assembly approved the nation’s first anti-trust law.  The law set up the creation of the Competition Regulatory Authority, which prevents and cracks down on actions of economic agents that fail to comply with the rules and principles of competition.  The Competition Regulatory Authority of Angola (Autoridade Reguladora da Concorrência – ARC) was created by Presidential Decree no. 313/18, of December, 21,2018,  and it succeeds the now defunct Instituto da Concorrência e Preços. It has administrative, financial, patrimonial and regulatory autonomy, and is endowed with broad supervisory and sanctioning powers, including the power to summon and question persons, request documents, carry out searches and seizures, and seal business premises.

The ARC is responsible, in particular, for the enforcement of the new Competition Act of Angola, approved by Law no. 5/18, of May 10, 2018 and subsequently implemented by Presidential Decree no. 240/18, of October 12. The Act has a wide scope of application, pertaining to both private and state-owned undertakings, and covers all economic activities with a nexus to Angola. The Competition Act prohibits agreements and anti-competitive practices, both between competitors (“horizontal” practices, the most serious example of which are cartels), as well as between companies and its suppliers or customers, within the context of “vertical” relations.

Equally prohibited is abusive conduct practiced by companies in a dominant position, such as the refusal to provide access to essential infrastructures, the unjustified rupture of commercial relations and the practice of predatory prices, as well as the abusive exploitation, by one or more companies, of economically-dependent suppliers or clients.

Prohibited practices are punishable by heavy fines that range from one-ten percent of the annual turnover of the companies involved. Offending companies that collaborate with the ARC, by revealing conduct until then unknown or producing evidence on a voluntary basis, may benefit from significant fine reductions, under a leniency program yet to be developed and implemented by the ARC.

Considering the ample powers and potentially heavy sanctions at the disposal of the ARC, companies present in (or planning to enter) Angola are well advised to consider carefully the impact of the new law on their activities, in order to mitigate any risk that its market conduct may be found contrary to the Competition Act.

Expropriation and Compensation

Under the Land Tenure Act of November 9, 2004 and the General Regulation on the Concession of Land (Decree no 58/07 of July 13, 2007), all land belongs to the state and the state reserves the right to expropriate land from any settlers. The state is only allowed to transfer ownership of urban real estate to Angolan nationals, and may not grant ownership over rural land to any private entity (regardless of nationality), corporate entities or foreign entities. The state may allow for land usage through a 60-year lease to either Angolan or foreign persons (individuals or corporate), after which the state reserves legal right to take over ownership.

Expropriation without compensation remains a common practice.  Land tenure became a more significant issue following independence from Portugal when over 50 percent of the population moved to urban centers during the civil war.  The state offered some areas for development within a specific timeframe. After this timeframe, areas that remained underdeveloped reverted to the state with no compensation to any claimants.  In most cases, claimants allege unfair treatment and little or no compensation.

Dispute Settlement

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Angola is not a member state to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID Convention), but has ratified the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.  Its ratification was endorsed domestically via resolution No. 38/2016, published in the Official Gazette of Angola on August 12, 2016.

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

The Angolan Arbitration Law (Law 16/2003 of July 25) (Voluntary Arbitration Law — VAL) provides for domestic and international arbitration.  Substantially inspired by Portuguese 1986 arbitration law, it cannot be said to strictly follow the UN Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration.  In contrast the VAL contains no provisions on definitions, rules on interpretation, adopts the disposable rights criterion in regards to arbitration, does not address preliminary decisions, nor distinguish between different types of awards, and permits appeal on the merits in domestic arbitrations, unless the parties have otherwise agreed.

Angola is also a member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), which can provide dispute settlement assistance as part of its political risk insurance products and eligibility for preferential trade benefits under the African Growth Opportunity Act.  The United States and Angola have signed a TIFA, which seeks to promote greater trade and investment between the two nations.

The U.S. Embassy is aware of two ongoing formal investment disputes involving American companies.

International Commercial Arbitration and Foreign Courts

Although not widely implemented, the Government of Angola and public sector companies recognize the use of arbitration to settle disputes with foreign arbitration awards issued in foreign courts.  In 2016, Angola took a major step in international arbitration by signing the New York Convention on recognition of foreign arbitration Wards. On March 6, 2017 the Government of Angola deposited its instrument of accession to the Convention with the UN Secretary General. The Convention entered into force on June 4, 2017.

Bankruptcy Regulations

Angola is ranks 168 out of 190 on the World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 report on resolving insolvency. Banks are bound to comply with prudential rules aimed at ensuring that they maintain a minimum amount of funds not less than the minimal stock capital at all times to ensure adequate levels of liquidity and solvability. Insolvency is regulated by the Law on Financial Institutions No. 12/2015 of June 17, 2015. Based on this law, the BNA increased the social capital requirement for banks operating in the country by 200 percent (BNA notice 2/2015) to guard against possible damages to clients and the financial system. All monetary deposits up to 12.5 million Kwanzas (USD  40,000 equivalent) are also to be deposited into the BNA’s Deposit Guarantee Funds account (Presidential Decree 195/18 of 2018) so that clients (both local and foreign) are guaranteed a refund in case of bankruptcy by their respective bank. Article 69 of the law expressly states that it is the responsibility of the president of the Republic to create the fund, but it is silent on the rules governing its operation or the amounts guaranteed by the fund.

In early 2019, the BNA revoked the operating licenses of two private banks, Banco Mais and Banco Postal, due to their inability to recapitalize to meet new mandatory operating capital requirements set by the BNA in 2018. A third bank, Banco Angolano e Comércio de Negócios (BANC), was also put under administration due to its poor governance and a failure to also raise the mandatory operating capital to meet new minimum requirements. In 2015, following the 2014 collapse of Banco Espirito Santo Angola (BESA), the subsidiary of Portugal’s Banco Espírito Santo, the State intervened and restructured BESA which now operates as Banco Economico. While Angola’s arbitration law (Arbitration Law No. 16/03) for insolvency adopted in 2013 introduced the concept of domestic and international arbitration, the practice of arbitration law is still not widely implemented.

The law criminalizes bankruptcy under the following classification: condemnation in Angola or abroad for crimes of fraudulent bankruptcy, i.e. involvement of shareholders or managers in fraudulent activities that result in the bankruptcy, negligence bankruptcy, forgery, robbery, or involvement in other crimes of an economic nature.

The Ministry of Finance, the BNA and the Capital Markets Commission (CMC) oversee credit monitoring and regulation.

4. Industrial Policies

Investment Incentives

The NPIL seeks to award incentives to attract and retain investment.  Investment incentives in the PIL include:

Eliminates the minimum investment value and the value required to qualify for incentives in foreign and local investments, previously set at USD 1,000,000 and USD 500,000 respectively.  There is no more limit to invest and qualify for incentives;

Eliminates the obligation for foreign investors to establish a partnership with an Angolan entity with at least a 35 percent stake in the capital structure of investments in the electricity and water, tourism, transport and logistics, construction, media, telecommunications and IT sectors.  Under the new law, investors will decide on their capital structure and origin.

Grants foreign investors “the right and guarantee to transfer abroad” dividends or distributed profits, the proceeds of the liquidation of its investments, capital gains, the proceeds of indemnities and royalties, or other income from remuneration of indirect investments related to technology transfer after proof of implementation of the project and payment of all tax dues.

Investment incentives are granted by the AIPEX, the State’s investment agency, as opposed to by the president as mandated in the 2015 investment law. Companies need to apply for such incentives when submitting an investment application to the newly created AIPEX and the relevant ministry.

The NPIL restructures the country into three economic development zones (zones A through C) determined by political and socio-economic factors, up from two as per the 2015 investment law.  For Zone A, investors have a 3-year moratorium on taxes reduced between 25- 50 percent of the tax levied on the distribution of profits and dividends. For Zone B, it is between three to six years with a 50 to 60 percent tax reduction, and for Zone C between six to eight years with a tax reduction between 60-70 percent of the tax levied on distribution of profits and dividends.

  1. The State guarantees “non-public interference in the management of private companies” and “non-cancellation of licenses without administrative or judicial processes.”
  2. The State provides a new and simplified procedure for the approval of investment projects, along with the adoption of measures aimed at accelerating the contractual process.  It also provides special rights projects (undefined), including easier access to visas for investors and priority in the repatriation of dividends, and capital.

Note: Angola is a signatory to the Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMs) applicable to foreign investment.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

Angola is a signatory to SADC but not a member of the SADC Free Trade Zone. Angola is analyzing and revising its tariff schedule to accommodate beneficial adjustments in regional trade under the SADC Free Trade Area (SFTA).

Under the NPIL, Angola is divided into three economic zones, zone A through C.  Zone A offers a three-year tax exemption for capital tax and a reduction in the tax burden by 25-50 percent; Zone B a three to six-year tax exemption for capital tax with a reduction in the tax burden by 50-60 percent; and, for Zone C, an eight year tax exemption for capital tax with a with a 60-70 percent reduction in the tax burden.

Porto Caio is under construction in the province of Cabinda.  The port is designated as a Free Trade Zone (FTZ) and is slated to provide numerous opportunities for warehousing, distribution, storage, lay down area and development of oil, and gas related activity.  The Port will also serve as a new major gateway to international markets from the west coast of Angola, and the development will facilitate exports and render them more cost-effective for companies.

Although the government has not yet established regional or international free trade zones, on March 21, 2018 the government signed an agreement creating the AfCFTA.  The AfCFTA is the result of the African Free Trade Agreement among all 55 members of the African Union, and will be the largest FTZ in the world since the emergence of the WTO.  The agreement’s implementation could create a market of 1.2 billion consumers. The UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) has estimated a 52 percent increase in intra-African trade by 2022.  Currently, intra-African trade is only 16 percent, with intra-Latin American at 19 percent, intra-Asian at 51 percent, and intra-European at 70 percent.

Performance and data Localization Requirements

Angola widely observes a policy to restrict the number of foreign workers and the duration of their employment. The policy aims to promote local workforce recruitment and progression. Decree 6/01, of 2001 establishes that expatriate workers can only be recruited if the Labor Inspectorate gets confirmation from the employer that no Angolan personnel duly qualified to perform the job required is available in the local market. The same decree limits foreign employment to 36 months and temporary employment less than 90 days on the explicit authorization of the Labor Inspectorate. Employers must register an employment contract entered into with a foreign national within 30 days at the employment center. The registration includes submission of a copy of the job description approved by the Labor Inspectorate during registration of the employment contract and the payment of a registration fee of 5 percent of the gross salary plus all the benefits. Companies must deregister upon termination of the contract. Deregistration equally applies to administration personnel and to the board of directors.

Foreign employees require work permits, and no employment is authorized on tourist visas. The visa application procedure, though improved, remains complex, timely and inconsistent. Processes and requirements vary according to the labor market situation at the time of application, the type of work permit being applied for, the nationality of the applicant, the country of application, and personal circumstances of the assignee and any family dependents. Through the NPIL Angola created the investor visa, granted by the immigration authority to foreign investors, representatives, or attorneys of an investing company, to carry out an approved investment proposal. It allows for multiple entries, and a stay of two years renewable for the same period. The NPIL liberalizes foreign investment, few instances translate to “forced localization,” and enforcement procedures for performance requirements are strictly observed in the labor, immigration, and petroleum sectors only.

International oil companies are working with the government on a new local-content initiative that will establish more explicit sourcing requirements for the petroleum sector in staffing and material. Specific to the oil sector, because of the significance it represents to the Angolan economy, the Petroleum Activities Law requires Sonangol and its associates to acquire materials, equipment, machinery, and consumer goods produced in Angola. Currently, local content regulations offer only guidelines that are loosely enforced, and companies lack clarity as to how much is enough to satisfy the Angolan government. While this situation may make it easier for foreign companies to comply with local content regulations, this lack of specificity challenges companies in their business planning. For example, it is difficult for companies to compare their competitive position against each other when competing for lucrative concessions and licenses from the government, as local content is sometimes considered during competition for government tenders. Legal guidance to get the guarantees for investors under the NPIL is strongly encouraged.

Data storage is not applicable; however, the Institute for Communications of Angola (INACOM) oversees and regulates data in liaison with the Ministry of Telecommunications. Regulations around data management including encryption are still at nascent stages.

5. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

Transparency and land property rights are critical for Angolan economic development given that two thirds of Angolans work in agriculture and are directly dependent on land property rights. However, the Land Act (Lei de Terras de Angola) has not been revised since its approval in December 2004. While the land act is a crucial step toward addressing issues of land tenure, normalization of land ownership in Angola persists with problems such as difficulties in completing land claims, land grabbing, lack of reliable government records, and unresolved status of traditional land tenure.  Among other provisions, the law included a formal mechanism for transforming traditional land property rights into legal land property rights (clean titles).  During the civil war, a transparent system of land property rights did not exist, so it was crucial to re-establish one shortly after the end of hostilities in 2002.

According to the “Land Act,” the State may transfer or constitute, for the benefit of Angolan natural or legal persons, a multiplicity of land rights on land forming part of its private domain.  Although, it is possible to transfer ownership over some categories of land, the transfer of State land almost never implies the transfer of its ownership, but only the formation of minor land rights with leasehold being the most common form in Angola.  The recipient of private property rights from the State can only transfer those rights with consent of the local authority and after a period of five years of effective use of the land (GRA 2004 law). 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 170 out of 173 according to the World Bank’s Doing Business 2019 survey, with fees averaging three percent of property value.  Owners must also wait five years after purchasing before reselling land. There are no written regulations setting out guidelines defining different forms of land occupation, including commercial use, traditional communal use, leasing, and private use.  Over the years, the government has given out large parcels of land to individuals in order to support the development of commercial agriculture. However, this process has largely been unsystematic and does not follow any formal rule change on land tenure by the State.

Before obtaining proof of title, an Angolan citizen or an Angolan legal entity must also obtain the Real or Leasing Rights (“Usufruct”) of the Land from the Instituto de Planeamento e Gestão Urbana de Luanda, an often a time-consuming procedure that can take up to a year or more.  However, in the case that company X already owns the land the company must secure a land property title deed from the Real Estate Registry in Luanda. An updated property certificate (“certidão predial”) is obtained from the relevant Real Estate Registry, with the complete description of the property including owner(s) information and any charges, liens, and/or encumbrances pending on the property.  The complex administration of property laws and regulations that govern land ownership and transfer of real property as well as its tedious registration process may reduce investor appetite for real estate investments in Angola. Despacho no. 174/11 of March 11, 2011 mandates the total fees for the “certidão predial” include stamp duty (calculated according to the Law on Stamp Duty); justice fees (calculated according to the Law on Justice Fees); fees to justice officers (according to the set contributions for the Justice budget); and, notary and other fees.  The total fee is also dependent on the current value of the fiscal unit (UCF).

Intellectual Property Rights

Angolan law recognizes the protection of intellectual property rights (IPR).  Angola’s National Assembly adopted the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Intellectual Property in August 2005, incorporating the 1979 text, and the patent cooperation treaty concluded in 1970, and amended in 1979 and 1984.  The Ministry of Industry administers IPR for trademarks, patents, and designs under Industrial Property Law 3/92. The Ministry of Culture regulates authorship, literary, and artistic rights under Copyright Law 4/90. Angola is a member of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and follows international patent classifications of patents, products, and services to identify and codify requests for patents and trademark registration.

IAPI (Instituto Angolano de Propriedade Intelectual) is the governmental body within the Ministry of Industry charged with implementing patent and trademark law.  The Ministry of Culture oversees copyright law. IP infringement is widespread, most notably in the production and distribution of pirated CDs, DVDs, and other media, largely for personal consumption. Counterfeit pharmaceuticals are another major area of concern.

There are currently no statistics available regarding counterfeit goods seized by the Angolan government.  INADEC (Instituto Nacional de Defesa dos Consumidores), under the umbrella of the Ministry of Commerce, tracks and monitors the seizure of counterfeit goods seized by the Angolan government.  They do not currently have a website, nor do they regularly publish statistics.  They publish the seizure of counterfeit products on an ad-hoc basis, primarily in the government-owned daily, Jornal de Angola.

Angola is not included in 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/  .  The U.S. Embassy point of contact for IPR related issues is Mballe Nkembe (NkembeMM@state.gov).  For legal counsel, refer to Angola’s Country Commercial Guide Local Professional Services List (http://export.gov/ccg/angola090710.asp  )

6. Financial Sector

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

Angola’s capital markets remain embryonic.  To respond to the need for increased sources of financing of the economy, in 2013, the Angolan Government created the Capital Market Commission (CMC).  Angola’s banks are likely the most established businesses that could potentially list on an exchange. However, many Angolan banks have a high rate of non-performing loans, reported to be as high as 31 percent.  Angola’s banks have struggled in recent years due to the country’s deteriorating economic environment and increasingly high rate of delinquent loans. The Governor of the BNA has stated that Angola’s banks must go through a consolidation phase and has started assessing the banks’ asset capacity.  So far, the BNA has revoked the licenses of three banks based on their failure to meet the mandatory new share-capital minimum requirement. The process may limit banks’ ability in the near-term to list on the country’s fledgling stock exchange.

The Angolan government raised USD 3 billion in its second Eurobond issue in international markets with investor demand reportedly reaching nearly USD 9 billion.  In August 2012, Russia’s second-largest bank, VTB, managed the sale of Angola’s first international bond, a USD 1 billion, 7-year bond with a 7.0 percent yield.  In November 2015, Angola raised a USD 1.5 billion, 10-year Eurobond with a 9.5 percent yield. Angola plans to issue a third Eurobond in the second quarter of 2019.

The BNA has developed a market for short-term bonds, called Titulos do Banco Central, and long-term bonds, called Obrigaçoes do Tesouro.  Most of these bonds are bought and held by local Angolan banks. The Obrigaçoes have maturities ranging from one to 7.5 years, whereas the Titulos have maturities of 91 to 182 days.  For information on current rates, see: http://www.bna.ao/  .

Foreign investors do not normally access credit locally.  For Angolan investors, credit access is very limited, and if available comes with a collateral requirement of 125 percent, so they either self-finance, or seek financing from non-Angolan banks and investment funds.  The termination of the “Angola Invest” government-subsidized funding program for micro, small and medium private enterprises (SMEs) on September 25, 2018 has further reduced funding opportunities for many SMEs. Since its inception in 2012, Angola Invest financed approximately 515 projects worth USD 377 million.

The Angolan National Development Plan provides for the liquidation of unviable state-owned enterprises, the privatization of non-strategic state enterprises and the sale of shareholding by 2022.  In January 2018, the president created a commission to prepare and implement the privatization process, via the Stock Exchange.

Money and Banking System

The BNA has remained under considerable pressure to stabilize Angola’s economy as a high rate, currently 31 percent, of non-performing loans has crippled the banks’ ability and willingness to foster private sector lending. The BNA implemented a contractionary monetary policy, reducing local currency in circulation over fears of escalating inflation and foreign currency arbitrage. To address further these concerns, in early 2018, the government also scrapped the Angolan currency’s fixed peg to the U.S. dollar in favor of greater rate flexibility, and began regular foreign exchange auctions to banks, preventing the allocation of dollars to preferred clients.  A 47 percent devaluation of the local currency throughout the year meant an increase in Angola’s debt, now close to 85 percent of GDP.

The IMF projects Angola’s economy will recover in 2019, in large part due to additional regulatory reforms that should open up the economy to more investment. Angola’s agreement with the IMF for USD 3.7 billion in financial support suggests the government’s intent to reassure investors, and to diversify Angola’s source of borrowing. As a key condition of the IMF loan, Angola cannot have any new oil collateralized debt.  The government also resorted to international capital markets and raised USD 3 billion in its second Eurobond issue with investor demand reportedly reaching nearly USD 9 billion.  The issue was in two installments, the first with a ten-year maturity, a nominal value of USD 1.75 billion, and a coupon fixed at 8.35 percent.  The second, with a 30-year maturity, nominal value of USD 1.25 billion, and a coupon of 9.375 percent.

There are currently 27 banks in Angola.  Five banks, Banco Angolano de Investimentos (BAI), Banco Economico, Banco de Fomento Angola (BFA), Banco BIC Angola (BIC) and Banco de Poupança e Credito S.A.R.L. (BPC), control over 80 percent of total banking assets, deposits, and loans.  Angolan banks focus on profit generating activities including transactional banking, short-term trade financing, foreign exchange, and investments in high-interest government bonds. Banks had until the end of 2018 to comply with the newly BNA-set USD 50 million mandatory capital start-up requirement, up from the previous USD 25 million requirement.  In early 2019, the BNA revoked the operating licenses of two banks, Banco Mais and Banco Postal, for failing to increase their capital to meet the new minimum requirements.  Another bank, Banco Angolano de Negocios e Comercio, is currently under BNA administration.

Angola has been affected by the broader global de-risking trends wherein banks decide to stop lending to businesses in markets deemed too risky from an anti-money laundering and terrorist financing compliance (?) standpoint.  In December 2016, Deutsche Bank, the last international bank providing dollar-clearing services, closed its dollar clearing services in Angola. A limited number of international banks still operate in Angola and provide limited trade finance such as Germany’s Commerzbank and South Africa’s Standard Bank.  In 2018, there were no further correspondent bank losses. International banks previously refrained from entering the Angolan market because of the risk of fines and other penalties, but in 2018 there was more interest, with several banks conducting independent assessments of the business climate.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange Policies

Angola continues trading mostly in two currencies, the U.S. dollar and the Euro, with the Renminbi gaining greater prominence given the degree of trade with China.  In a bid to deal with the foreign currency shortage and substantial foreign currency arbitrage in the parallel market, the government has opted for a managed float for its currency exchange rate.  The Angolan Kwanza was pegged at a rate of 166.00 per U.S. dollar from April 2016 to January 2018 following a steep devaluation due to the slump in oil prices.  On January 10, 2018 the BNA began conducting foreign currency auctions allowing the kwanza to fluctuate within an undisclosed but controlled band.  Since dropping the peg to the U.S. dollar in January 2018, the Kwanza has depreciated by approximately 47 percent.

The National Bank of Angola (BNA) set new rules for foreign exchange and remittances on November 19, 2018 in order to curb depleting foreign currency reserves.  Under Instruction no. 15/2018 of November 19, 2018 the BNA sells foreign currency (U.S. dollar and Euros only) to commercial banks by auction. Commercial banks may then assign foreign currency to their clients based on a schedule submitted and approved by the BNA.  On the sale by banks to exchange offices and remittance companies, banks may only make foreign currency available in physical notes on a collateral basis, as they must, at the time of sale debit the national currency account of those institutions against delivery of physical notes.  Banks may charge a margin of up to 2 percent on the reference exchange rate published on the institutional website of the National Bank of Angola, considered high for investors.

Payment of remittances in any form and non-strategic imports face a lengthy wait between 90-180 days for foreign exchange.  Priority is given to strategic importers of food, raw materials for construction, agriculture, medicine and the oil sector. The government also has a huge backlog of forex arrears of approximately USD 3 billion.

Investors cannot freely convert their earnings in kwanza to any foreign exchange rate due to limited available foreign exchange.  Credit cards and other options for payment are extremely limited and money-servicing businesses (Western Union & MoneyGram) have ceased foreign outward transactions in foreign currency.

Remittance Policies

The Angolan government established anti-money laundering restrictions in January 2014 and is currently revising the law to better combat illicit remittance flows.  The subsequent drop in foreign exchange availability in Angola, beginning in 2015 due to declining petroleum revenues, has severely impeded personal and legitimate business remittances.

International and domestic companies operating in Angola continuously face significant delays securing foreign exchange approval for remittances to cover key operational expenses, including imported goods and expatriate salaries.  Profit and dividend remittances are even more problematic for most companies, including foreign airlines with withheld remittances for the sector currently valued by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) at USD 137 million, down from USD 540 million in June 2018.

The BNA is trying to facilitate remittances of international supplies by introducing payment by letters of credit.  Also, the 2018 NPIL grants foreign investors “the right and guarantee to transfer abroad” dividends or distributed profits, the proceeds of the liquidation of their investments, capital gains, the proceeds of indemnities and royalties, or other income from remuneration of indirect investments related to technology transfer after proof of implementation of the project and payment of all taxes due.  The government continues to prioritize foreign exchange for essential goods and services including the food, health, defense, and petroleum industries.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

In October 2012, President dos Santos established a petroleum-funded USD 5 billion sovereign wealth fund called the Fundo Soberano de Angola (FSDEA).  The FSDEA was established in accordance with international governance standards and best practices as outlined in the Santiago Principles. In February 2015, the FSDEA was recognized as transparent by the Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute (SWFI), receiving a score of 8 out of 10.  The FSDEA has the express purpose of profit maximization with a special emphasis on investing in domestic projects that have a social component (http://www.fundosoberano.ao/investments/  ).  Jose Filomeno dos Santos (Zenu), son of former President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, was appointed chairman of FSDEA in June 2013, but has since been removed by President Lourenco based reportedly on poor results at the FSDEA and conspiracy with the Fund’s wealth manager, Quantum Global (QG) to embezzle FSDEA funds.  Former Minister Carlos Alberto Lopes was named new head of the FSDEA. Zenu, on house arrest, remains under investigation for money laundering, embezzlement, and fraud related to his management of the FSDEA, and for fraud in connection with the transfer of USD 500 million from the Angolan Central Bank to a bank in the UK. On March 22, 2019 the government also freed Jean-Claude Bastos de Morais, QG’s CEO, in preventive detention since September 2018, based on the insufficiency of evidence to support the collection of malfeasance charges.

Half of the initial endowment of FSDEA was invested in agriculture, mining, infrastructure, and real estate in Angola and other African markets, and the other half was supposedly allocated to cash and fixed-income instruments, global and emerging-market equities, and other alternative investments.  The FSDEA is reportedly in possession of approximately USD 2.24 billion of its private equity assets previously under the control of QG.

7. State-Owned Enterprises

In Angola, certain state-owned enterprises (SOEs) exercise delegated governmental powers, especially in the mining sector where the government is the sole concessionaire.  Foreign investors may sometimes find demands made by SOEs excessive, and under such conditions, SOEs have easier access to credit and government contracts. There is no law mandating preferential treatment to SOEs, but in practice they have access to inside information and credit.  Currently, SOEs are not subject to budgetary constraints and quite often exceed their capital limits.

SOEs, often benefitting from a government mandate, operate mostly in the extractive, transportation, commerce, banking, and construction sectors.  All SOEs in Angola are required to have boards of directors, and most board members are affiliated with the government. SOEs are not explicitly required to consult with government officials before making decisions.  By law, SOEs must publish annual financial reports for the previous year in the national daily newspaper Jornal de Angola by April 1.  Such reports are not always subject to publically released external audits (though the audit of state oil firm Sonangol is publically released).  The standards used are often questioned. Not all SOEs fulfill their legal obligations, and few are sanctioned.

Angola’s supreme audit institution, Tribunal de Contas, is responsible for auditing SOEs.  However, the Tribunal de Contas does not make its reports publicly available. Angola’s fiscal transparency would be improved by ensuring its supreme audit institution audits SOEs, as well as the government’s annual financial accounts, and makes public its findings within a reasonable period.  Publicly available audit reports would also improve the transparency of contracts between private companies and SOEs.

In November 2016, the Angolan Government revised Law 1/14 “Regime Juridico de Emissão e Gestão da Divida Publica Directa e Indirecta,” which now differentiates between ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ public debt.  The GRA considers SOE debt as indirect public debt, and only accounts in its state budget for direct government debt, thus effectively not reflecting some substantial obligations in fact owed by the government.  President Lourenço has launched various reforms to improve financial sector transparency, enhance efficiency in the country’s SOEs as part of the National Development plan 2018-2022 and Macroeconomic Stability Plan.  The strategy included the prospective privatization of 74 SOEs that are deemed not profitable to the state. The privatization will possibly include the restructuring of the national air carrier TAAG, Sonangol, and its subsidiaries.  The latter intends to sell off its non- core businesses as part of its restructuring strategy to make the parastatal more efficient.

Angola is not a party to the WTO’s Government Procurement Agreement (GPA).  Angola does not adhere to the OECD guidelines on corporate governance for SOEs.

Privatization Program

The government has a plan to privatize 74 of 90 public companies by 2022 through the Angola Debt and Securities Exchange market (BODIVA) and under the supervision of the Institute of Management of Assets and State Participations (IGAPE).  The privatization plan is in line with the provisions of the Government’s Interim Macroeconomic Stabilization Program (PEM), which aims to rid the government of unprofitable public institutions. The terms of reference for the privatization program are not yet public, except for seven factories located in the Special Economic Zone (ZEE).  The seven industrial units with full terms of reference are:

UNIVITRO – glassworks industry; JUNTEX – plaster industry; CARTON – carton and packaging industry; ABSOR – absorbent products industry; INDUGIDET – sanitation and detergents industry; COBERLEN – blankets and linens industry; and, SACIANGO – cement bags industry.

The government plans to privatize part of state-owned Angola Telecommunications Company, companies in the oil and energy sector, as well as several textile industries.  The government has stated that the privatization process will be open to interested foreign investors and has guaranteed a transparent bidding process. Proposals from investors for seven industrial units at the ZEE will be given special attention to those who decide to retain local workers in these units. The government created a privatization commission on February 27, 2018 and a website https://igape.minfin.gov.ao/PortalIGAPE/#!/sala-de-imprensa/noticias/5413/anuncio-de-concurso-tender-announcement   for submission of tenders.  Full tender documents can be obtained by visiting the below link:
http://www.ucm.minfin.gov.ao/cs/groups/public/documents/document/zmlu/mdu4/~edisp/minfin058842.zip 

Alternatively, contact igape@minfin.gov.ao.  The tenders are open to local and foreign investors.

8. Responsible Business Conduct

The government has few initiatives to promote responsible business conduct.  On March 26, 2019 the UNDP launched the National Network of Corporate Social Responsibility, called “RARSE,” to promote the creation of a platform to reconcile responsible business conduct with the needs of the population.  The government, through the Ministry of Education, also held a campaign under the theme, “Countries that have a good education, that enforce laws, condemn corruption, privilege and practice citizenship, have as a consequence successful social and economic development.”

The government has enacted laws to prevent labor by children under 14 and forced labor, although resource limitations hinder adequate enforcement.  In June 2018, the government passed a National Action Plan (2018-2022) to eradicate the worst forms of child labor (the PANETI).

With limitations, the laws protect the rights to form unions, collectively bargain, and strike.  Government interference in some strikes has been reported. The Ministry of Public Administration, Employment, and Social Security, has a hotline for workers who believe their rights have been infringed.  Angola’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry established the Principles of Ethical Business in Angola.

In 2015, Angola organized an interagency technical working group to explore Angola’s possible membership in the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPs) and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI).  Angola has been a member of the Kimberley Process (KP) since 2003, and chaired the KP in 2015, until handing over the rotating chair to the United Arab Emirates

Angola is not a party to the WTO’s GPA, and does not adhere to the OECD guidelines on corporate for SOEs.

9. Corruption

Corruption remains a strong impediment to doing business in Angola and has had a corrosive impact on international market investment opportunities and on the broader business climate.  Transparency International’s 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index ranks Angola 165 out of 175 countries in its corruption level survey, down two places from the previous year due to ongoing efforts to bring down corruption to lower levels.

Since coming into office, President Lourenco has led a concerted effort to restore investor confidence by prioritizing anti-corruption and the fight against nepotism.  President Lourenco has dismissed a number of prominent Angolan figures from government ministries and SOEs and has replaced board members charged with developing plans to improve operations and accountability in public institutions.  The president approved a set of amendments to the Public Contracts Law on November 16, 2018, which imposed further requirements for the declaration of assets and income, interests, impartiality, confidentiality, and independence in the formation and execution of public contracts.  On December 6, the Government of Angola rolled out of a national anti-corruption strategy (NACS) billed under the motto, “Corruption – A fight for All and By All.” The five-year strategy, developed in concert with the UNDP, is designed to improve government transparency, accountability, and responsiveness to citizen needs.  The NACS focuses on three pillars in the fight against corruption – prevention, prosecution, and institutional capacity building.

The government also passed the Law on the Repatriation of Financial Resources in June 2018, which established the terms and conditions for the repatriation of financial resources held abroad by resident individuals and legal entities with registered offices in Angola.  The law exempted individuals and legal entities, who voluntarily repatriated their financial resources within a period of 180 days following the date of entry into force of the Law, by transferring the funds to an Angolan bank account, from any obligation or liability of tax, foreign exchange and criminal nature.  Upon expiry of the grace period for repatriation, the Law allowed for the possibility of coercive repatriation by the government. The government estimates that USD 30 billion of Angolan assets are sheltered overseas. In early 2019, the government established the National Asset Recovery Service (SNRA), an institution linked to the Attorney General’s Office (PGR), in charge of ensuring compliance with the repatriation law.

The 2010 Law on Administrative Probity, unlike President Lourenco’s mandate for senior government officials, requires all public officials to disclose their assets and income once every two years, and it prohibits public servants from receiving money or gifts from private business deals.  The Penal Code makes it a criminal offense for private enterprises to engage in business transactions with public officials. Angola has incorporated regional anti-corruption guidelines and into their domestic legislation, including: the SADC “Protocol Against Corruption,” the African Union’s “Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption,” and the United Nation’s “Convention against Corruption.”  Angola does not have an independent body to investigate and prosecute corruption cases, and generally, enforcement of existing laws is weak or non-existent. Three institutions – the Audit Court, the Inspector General of Finance, and the Office of the Attorney General – perform many of the anti-corruption duties in Angola. http://www.business-anti-corruption.com/country-profiles/sub-saharan-africa/angola/initiatives/public-anti-corruption-initiatives.aspx  

It is important for U.S. companies, regardless of their size, to assess the business climate in the sector in which they will be operating or investing, and to have an effective compliance program or measures to prevent and detect corruption, including foreign bribery.  U.S. individuals and firms operating or investing in Angola, should take the time to become familiar with the relevant anticorruption laws of both Angola and the United States in order to properly comply with them, and where appropriate, they should seek legal counsel.

In 1996 the Government of Angola enacted by presidential decree the Alta Autoridade Contra Corrupção (High Authority Against Corruption) Act.  There has been no action taken to implement the law since it was enacted in 1996.

UN Anticorruption Convention, OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery

Angola is not a member state to the UN Anticorruption Convention or the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery.  On March 26, 2018 it ratified and published in the national gazette the African Union Convention on the Prevention and Fight against Corruption and now takes legislative measures against illicit enrichment (Article 8), confiscation and seizure of proceeds and means of corruption (Article 16), and international cooperation in matters of corruption and money laundering (Article 20).

Resources to Report Corruption

Hélder Pitta Grós
Procurador Geral da Republica (Attorney General of the Republic)
Procurador Geral da Republica (Attorney General’s Office)
Travessa Antonio Marques Monteiro 22, Maianga
Telephone: 244-222-333172

10. Political and Security Environment

Politically related violence is not a high risk in Angola, and incidents are rare.  The August 2017 election marked Angola’s first transition of power in 38 years, when former President Eduardo dos Santos, one of the longest serving presidents on the continent, opted to step down.  Since his August 2017 election, President João Lourenço has remained a popular political figure, revitalizing support for the ruling Movimento Popular de Libertacao de Angola (MPLA), instituting reforms, and slowly improving Angola’s international image. On September 8, he stood unopposed and was elected overwhelmingly as the MPLA party leader, thereby ending predecessor Jose Eduardo dos Santos’ 39-year leadership of the party. Lourenço now controls the executive, the ruling party, and the influential armed forces and intelligence services. Since his transition to office, Lourenço’s relationship with his predecessor has deteriorated. New government reforms have directly affected the former first family and their allies’ economic stronghold, and the president has publicly called out his predecessor for emptying state coffers.

A more tightly controlled MPLA under President Lourenço continues to dominate the political

landscape.  Engagement with the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola

(UNITA), Angola’s largest opposition party, has been more constructive and inclusive, as well as with the Broad Convergence for the Salvation of Angola – Electoral Coalition ( CASA-CE), a viable third party.  The president has encouraged freedom of speech, and opened up greater room for civil society participation. However, there is room for improvement, as restrictions on freedom of assembly, association, and religious freedom persist.  Unlike his predecessor, President Lourenço has demonstrated a willingness for greater international and regional engagement. He has traveled abroad more frequently, and hosted foreign leaders in a bid to rebrand Angola’s image and attract greater FDI.

Angola engages multilaterally, through the AU, SADC, and the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, to address its security and economic equities with the DRC.  President Lourenço hosted several summits in Luanda to encourage President Kabila not to seek an illegal third term. In 2017, Angola provided troops and leadership in its first international peacekeeping force with the SADC regional stabilization mission to Lesotho.  Angola continues to struggle with its legacy of land mines and is far from reaching its goal of becoming mine impact free by 2025. Since 1995, the United States (Angola’s largest demining donor) has invested more than USD 126 million in Angola to clear and dispose of landmines and unexploded ordnance.  The United States is on course to donate an additional USD 2 million in demining assistance in 2019. The government also pledged in 2019 an unprecedented USD 60 million of its own money for humanitarian demining over the next five years, largely focused on a potential corridor for tourism and sustainable development in the southeast, linked to the Okavango Delta.

The last significant incident of political violence happened in 2010 during an attack against the Togolese national soccer team by FLEC-PM (Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda—Military Position) in the northern province of Cabinda.  FLEC threatened Chinese workers in Cabinda in 2015 and claimed in 2016 that they would return to active armed struggle against the Angolan government forces. No attacks have since ensued and the FLEC has remained relatively inactive. President Lourenco has pledged to govern for all Angolans, and combat two of the country’s major problems: corruption and mismanagement of public funds.

Russia remains Angola’s premier security cooperation partner.  However, a May 2017 U.S.–Angola Defense Cooperation MOU has enabled more open mil-to-mil coordination.  Our security cooperation aims to build the U.S.-Angolan military relationship, address Angolan defense priorities, and develop sustainable proficiency in areas of common interest, such as maritime safety and security, civil-military operations, humanitarian assistance, medical readiness, and English language programs.

11. Labor Policies and Practices

The Angolan labor force has limited technical skills, English language capabilities, and managerial ability.  Many employers find it necessary to invest heavily in educating and training their Angolan staff. Angola’s labor force was estimated to be 10.85 million in 2016.  The literacy rate is estimated to be 71.1 percent (82 percent male, 60.7 percent female). A 2013 National Statistics Institute study indicates that formal unemployment is around 26 percent, although these figures are based on limited data taken primarily from urban centers.  86 percent of primary school age children attend school. The law mandates that children must attend school for six years beginning at age six. 29 percent of boys and 17 percent of girls attend high school.

There are gaps in compliance with international labor standards which may pose a reputational risk to investors.  Children are sometimes employed in agriculture, construction, fishing, and coal industries. Forced labor is sometimes used in agricultural, fishing, construction, domestic service, and artisanal diamond mining sectors.  Additional information is available in the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report, (https://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2018/), 2018 Country Report on Human Rights Practices(https://www.state.gov/j/drl/rls/hrrpt/humanrightsreport/), and 2018 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor, (https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ilab/resources/reports/child-labor/angola  ).

Angola’s General Labor Law (Law No. 2/00), updated in 2015, recognizes the right of workers, except members of the armed forces and police, to form and join independent unions, to collectively bargain, and to strike, but these rights are either limited or restricted.  To establish a union, a minimum of 30 percent of workers from a sector at the provincial level must participate and prior authorization by authorities with accompanying bureaucratic approvals is required. Unlike workers in the private sector, civil service employees do not have the right to collective bargaining.  While the law allows unions to conduct their activities without government interference, it also places some restrictions on engaging in a strike. Strict bureaucratic procedures must be followed for a strike to be considered legal. The government can deny the right to strike or obligate workers to return to work for members of the armed forces, police, prison staff, fire fighters, “essential services” public sector employees, and oil workers.  The government may intervene in labor disputes that affect national security, particularly strikes in the oil sector. The definition of civil service workers providing “essential services” is broadly defined, encompassing the transport sector, communications, waste management and treatment, and fuel distribution.

Collective labor disputes are to be settled through compulsory arbitration by the Ministry of Labor, Public Administration and Social Security.  The law does not prohibit employer retribution against strikers, but it does authorize the government to force workers back to work for “breaches of worker discipline” or participation in unauthorized strikes.  The law prohibits anti-union discrimination and stipulates that worker complaints be adjudicated in the labor court. Under the law, employers are required to reinstate workers who have been dismissed for union activities.

The General Labor Law also spells out procedures for hiring workers.  For work contracts of indefinite duration, the law provides for a basic probationary period of up to six months, during which the worker or employer can terminate the contract without notice or justification.  After the probationary period ends, dismissed workers have the right to appeal to a labor court. Many employers prefer to reach a monetary settlement with workers when a dispute arises, rather than bring cases before the labor court.  The World Bank’s Doing Business 2018 report found that fired workers with one to ten years of service received on average 26.7 weeks of salary compensation.  The notice period before dismissing a worker is 4.3 weeks.

The government conducts annual surveys of the oil industry to implement a requirement that oil companies hire Angolan nationals when qualified applicants are available.  If no qualified nationals apply for the position, then the companies may request the government’s permission to hire expatriates. Outside of the petroleum sector, policies to encourage “Angolanization” of the labor force, i.e. the hiring of locals, discourages bringing in expatriates.  However, the associated visa processes for the oil industry are currently easier and faster due to a special process the Angolan Ministry of Petroleum offers companies in that sector. Additionally, working visas for other sectors are also easier to obtain and the GRA has launched the investor’s visa in 2018.

12. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs

On April 10, 2019 the Export-Import Bank of the United States (EXIM) entered into a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Ministry of Finance of the government of Angola to increase trade of goods and services between the United States and Angola.  Under the MOU, EXIM and the Angolan Ministry of Finance agreed to exchange information on business opportunities to further the procurement of U.S. goods and services by both state-owned and private-sector small and medium-sized businesses in Angola. Sectors for business development include energy, oil and gas development, infrastructure, railway and road transportation, supply chain infrastructure, environmental projects, agriculture, health care, water and sanitation, and telecommunications.  EXIM agreed to explore options for providing the bank’s medium- and long-term guarantees onloans of up to USD 4 billion to support U.S. exports to Angola. For projects that may be eligible for EXIM support, the cooperation between the Ministry of Finance and EXIM would be directed towards qualifying such projects for approval by both institutions.

Since 1994, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) has provided investment insurance to projects in Angola.  U.S. investors can apply for OPIC insurance, including coverage under the “Quick Cover” program for projects valued at less than USD 50 million.  OPIC’s portfolio in Angola currently totals USD 20.4 million. Since the agreement, OPIC’s support has helped facilitate critical investments in the energy, services, health care, manufacturing, and financial services sectors.

Angola is a member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), which provides insurance to foreign investors against such risks as expropriation, non-convertibility, and war or civil disturbance.  MIGA also provides investment dispute resolution on a case-by-case basis.

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 N/A 2017 $102,300 www.worldbank.org/en/country  
Foreign Direct Investment Host Country Statistical Source USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions) 2017 $780 2016 $747 BEA data available at http://www.bea.gov/international/direct/investment-and-multinational-enterprises%20-comprehensive-data  
Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions) 2017 $226 2016 $234 BEA data available at http://www.bea.gov/international/direct/investment-and-multinational-enterprises-comprehensive-data   
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP 2017 9.9% 2016 9.0% UNCTAD data available at https://www.unctad.org/en/Pages/DIAE    


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
China $2,240 China $18,500
Portugal $2,020 India $3,770
Brazil  $669 United States $2,410
South Africa $637 South Africa $1,340
Congo $523 Spain $964
“0” reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.


Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Data not available.

14. Contact for More Information

Dorcas Makaya, Economic Specialist
United States Embassy, Luanda
Rua Houari Boumedienne 32 Miramar, Angola
Telephone: +244 222 641 154
Email: MakayaDC@state.gov

2019 Investment Climate Statements: Angola
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