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- GDP (PPP):
- $28.0 billion
- 6.0% growth
- 5.1% 5-year compound annual growth
- $6,559 per capita
- Inflation (CPI):
- FDI Inflow:
The Republic of Congo continues to be a poorly diversified commodity producer, heavily dependent on oil. Economic growth has been erratic due to changes in the volume of oil production. Extensive state controls persist in major economic sectors, and the government restricts foreign investment to a few handpicked partners.
Economic Freedom Snapshot
- 2016 Economic Freedom Score: 42.8 (up 0.1 point)
- Economic Freedom Status: Repressed
- Global Ranking: 172nd
- Regional Ranking: 44th in Sub-Saharan Africa
- Notable Successes: Monetary Freedom and Trade Freedom
- Concerns: Rule of Law, Business Freedom, and Investment Freedom
- Overall Score Change Since 2012: –1.0
Weak but repressive governance suppresses economic opportunity and traps many in persistent poverty. Poor protection of property rights and widespread corruption discourage entrepreneurial activity, undermining prospects for long-term economic expansion. The judicial system remains subject to substantial political interference.
The Republic of Congo became independent in 1960. Denis Sassou-Nguesso seized power in 1979 and governed the country as a Marxist–Leninist state before moderating economic policy and allowing a multi-party election in 1992. He lost that election to Pascal Lissouba, seized power again following a 1997 civil war, won a flawed election in 2002, and won a seven-year term in 2009 in another dubious election. Civil war militias remain active in the southern Pool region. Congo is one of Sub-Saharan Africa’s largest oil producers, but lack of infrastructure prevents exploitation of its sizable natural gas reserves and significant hydropower potential. As of December 2014, Congo hosted about 55,000 refugees from Angola, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda.
Corruption remains pervasive. The state oil company is directly controlled by the president’s family and advisers, and French authorities have been investigating alleged embezzlement of public funds since 2007. The judiciary is underfunded and crippled by institutional weakness and lack of technical capability. Contract terms are not transparent, and bribes are regularly solicited by “informal” tax collectors.
The top individual income tax rate is 45 percent, and the top corporate tax rate is 34 percent. Other taxes include a value-added tax, a tax on rental values, and an apprenticeship tax. The overall tax burden equals 11.2 percent of gross domestic output. Government spending amounts to 38.4 percent of GDP, and public debt equals about 40 percent of the domestic economy. Rebels continue to undermine tax collection.
The regulatory environment imposes significant burdens on entrepreneurs. Launching a company takes more than 100 days. With development of a modern labor market lagging, the informal sector accounts for most employment. In 2015, the IMF recommended that all government spending on energy subsidies and the construction of a state-owned power plant be subject to better fiscal policy management.
The Republic of Congo’s average tariff rate is 16.5 percent. Importation of goods is costly and time-consuming. Bureaucratic barriers may discourage foreign investment, but foreign and domestic investors are treated equally under the law. The banking sector has recorded modest expansion, and more than 10 banks are in operation, but overall use of financial services is low. Only about 5 percent of Congolese have bank accounts.