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- GDP (PPP):
- $19.1 billion
- 3.8% growth
- 5.8% 5-year compound annual growth
- $4,667 per capita
- Inflation (CPI):
- FDI Inflow:
The Republic of Congo’s economic freedom score is 43.7, making its economy the 169th freest in the 2014 Index. Its overall score is 0.2 point better than last year, with improvements in fiscal freedom, business freedom, and labor freedom offsetting declines in trade freedom, monetary freedom, and freedom from corruption. Congo is ranked 43rd out of 46 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and its overall score is much lower than the global and regional averages.
Over the 20-year history of the Index, the Republic of Congo has been rated a “repressed” economy. Its overall economic freedom score has improved by only 3.4 points during that period, with double-digit score gains in monetary freedom, the management of public finance, and freedom from corruption offset by declines in property rights, business freedom, and investment freedom.
The lack of progress in advancing economic freedom continues to trap many Congolese people in persistent poverty. Substantial challenges remain in the struggle to promote stable long-term economic development, and lingering institutional weaknesses call for much greater commitment to reform. Heavy state involvement in the leading economic sectors has dampened private-sector dynamism and led to uneven economic development.
Congo became 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. He lost that election to Pascal Lissouba but seized power again following a 1997 civil war. He won a flawed election in 2002 and was re-elected in 2009. The 2003 and 2007 peace agreements with rebel groups curtailed unrest, but many rebels have turned to banditry and criminality. Congo is one of Africa’s largest petroleum producers, but production is declining. Iron ore mines entering production in 2013 may add as much as $1 billion to annual government revenue. Industry contributes the most to GDP, but much of the population is engaged in subsistence agriculture.
Corruption, especially in the extractive industries, remains pervasive and strengthens the ruling party’s hold on the political system. The government will not release oil revenue data, and the state oil company is directly controlled by the president’s family and advisers. Congo’s underfunded judiciary is crippled by institutional weakness and a lack of technical capability. Contracts are not enforced reliably.
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 (VAT), a tax on rental values, and an apprenticeship tax. The overall tax burden is equal to 8.4 percent of gross domestic output. Government spending is 26.1 percent of GDP. Public debt amounts to just below a quarter of the domestic economy. Rebels continue to undermine tax collection and government functions.
It takes over 150 days to incorporate a company, and the cost of completing licensing requirements exceeds 10 times the level of average annual income. Informal labor activity is widespread, and outmoded employment regulations hinder the development of a modern labor market. The prices of a range of goods and services are affected by government ownership and subsidization of the large public sector.
The average tariff rate for the Republic of Congo is 14.7 percent. As with other members of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community, it may take weeks to import cargo. Foreign investment requires government approval. The underdeveloped financial system remains dominated by banks. Despite the increase in the number of banks, financial intermediation is low.