- GDP (PPP):
- $25.3 billion
- 5.6% growth
- 5.0% 5-year compound annual growth
- $2,277 per capita
- Inflation (CPI):
- FDI Inflow:
Benin’s economic freedom score is 55.3, making its economy the 127th freest in the 2019 Index. Its overall score has decreased by 1.4 points, with improvements in trade freedom and labor freedom overwhelmed by a plunge in fiscal health and lower scores for investment freedom, government integrity, and government spending. Benin is ranked 21st among 47 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and its overall score is above the regional average but below the world average.
The government’s structural reforms are aimed at reducing corruption and bureaucratic inefficiency and improving governance by pushing for legislative changes to strengthen political checks and balances. The program is also intended to reduce administrative expenses and strengthen Benin’s public finances and debt management. Higher public spending has funded infrastructure upgrades, which should produce higher GDP growth. Overall, entrepreneurs in Benin benefit from a relatively stable political and macroeconomic environment.
One of Africa’s largest cotton producers, the former French colony of Benin nevertheless remains underdeveloped and dependent on subsistence agriculture and regional trade. Wealthy businessman and political novice Patrice Talon was elected to a five-year presidential term in 2016 on a clean-government platform. His predecessor, Thomas Boni Yayi, was constitutionally limited to two terms. In April 2017, Talon tried unsuccessfully to change the limit to one six-year term. Government efforts to increase power generation capacity to help two-thirds of the population gain access to electricity should stimulate economic growth. Ongoing expansion of the privately managed port of Cotonou, which accounts for approximately 60 percent of GDP, will further encourage growth by increasing port services to Nigeria, Niger, and Burkina Faso.
Property rights are recognized and enforced. Property registration procedures were streamlined in 2018. The judiciary remains inefficient, underfunded, and susceptible to corruption, but the government has proposed reforms to increase transparency and accountability and to strengthen the independence of the courts. A Court of Accounts is to be established to review public finances in the wake of a major embezzlement scandal.
The top income tax rate is 45 percent, and the top corporate tax rate is 30 percent (45 percent for oil companies). Other taxes include a value-added tax. The overall tax burden equals 11.9 percent of total domestic income. Over the past three years, government spending has amounted to 23.5 percent of the country’s output (GDP), and budget deficits have averaged 6.4 percent of GDP. Public debt is equivalent to 54.6 percent of GDP.
The overall entrepreneurial environment remains burdensome. Obtaining necessary business licenses is time-consuming and costly. Outmoded employment regulations hinder overall job creation. The government has stopped subsidizing the cotton sector, citing a lack of transparency, but Benin continues to benefit from smuggled and heavily subsidized gasoline and rice from neighboring Nigeria.
The combined value of exports and imports is equal to 79.4 percent of GDP. The average applied tariff rate is 11.6 percent. As of June 30, 2018, according to the WTO, Benin had one nontariff measure in force. Bureaucratic barriers hinder investment. Despite the development of microfinance institutions, overall access to credit remains low. About 41 percent of adult Beninese have access to an account with a formal banking institution.