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- GDP (PPP):
- $18.3 billion
- 4.5% growth
- 4.9% 5-year compound annual growth
- $4,589 per capita
- Inflation (CPI):
- FDI Inflow:
The Republic of Congo’s economic freedom score is 43.5, making its economy the 167th freest in the 2013 Index. Its overall score is 0.3 point worse than last year, with improved scores in monetary freedom and the control of public spending counterbalanced by a substantial loss in business freedom. Congo is ranked 42nd out of 46 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and its overall score is much lower than the global and regional averages.
The foundations of economic freedom are fragile and unevenly established across the country. Widespread corruption and poor protection of property rights discourage entrepreneurial activity, undermining prospects for long-term economic expansion. The rule of law is weak, and the judicial system remains susceptible to substantial political interference.
In other key policy areas, heavy state involvement in the leading economic sectors has dampened private-sector dynamism and led to uneven economic development. The government restricts foreign investment to a few handpicked partners, and the underdeveloped financial system continues to limit potential entrepreneurs’ access to credit. Burdensome and opaque regulatory systems further hinder the development of a vibrant private sector.
Congo has endured recurring coups since becoming independent in 1960. After seizing power in 1979, President Denis Sassou-Nguesso governed the country as a Marxist–Leninist state before moderating economic policy and allowing multi-party elections in 1992. Sassou-Nguesso lost the 1992 election to Pascal Lissouba. Then, backed by Angolan troops, he again seized power following a 1997 civil war, won a flawed 2002 election, and was re-elected in July 2009 in a slightly more open political environment. The 2003 and 2007 peace agreements with rebel groups have curtailed unrest in the Pool region, but many of the rebels have turned to banditry and criminality.
The civil war that ended in 2003 left the judiciary almost without records and subject to bribery. In the absence of a modern and independent judicial system, traditional courts often handle local disputes. Contracts are not enforced reliably. Endemic corruption plagues the oil, mining, and timber sectors. Opponents accused ruling-party candidates of abusing state media and financial resources in the 2012 elections.
The top income tax rate is 50 percent, and the top corporate tax rate is 36 percent. Other taxes include a value-added tax (VAT), a tax on rental values, and an apprenticeship tax. The overall tax burden equals 7.9 percent of GDP. Government spending has fallen to 25.6 percent of total domestic output. Public debt continues to fall, and the budget surplus has nearly quadrupled to 16 percent of GDP due to large oil revenues.
Despite some progress, the regulatory environment still imposes significant burdens on entrepreneurs. Launching a company takes more than 100 days. With development of a modern labor market lagging, the informal sector is the source of most employment. The prices of goods and services are affected by state ownership and subsidization of the public sector.
The trade-weighted average tariff rate is quite high at 14.7 percent, and non-tariff barriers increase the cost of trade. The investment regime remains hampered by heavy bureaucracy and a lack of transparency. The banking sector has recorded modest expansion, and more than 10 banks are now in operation. However, overall use of financial services is low. Only about 5 percent of the population have bank accounts.