Policies Towards Foreign Direct 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.
Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment
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.
Other Investment Policy Reviews
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.