- GDP (PPP):
- $30.3 billion
- 0.8% growth
- 0.9% 5-year compound annual growth
- $6,799 per capita
- Inflation (CPI):
- FDI Inflow:
The Republic of the Congo’s economic freedom score is 41.8, making its economy the 176th freest in the 2020 Index. Its overall score has increased by 2.1 points, with a modest gain in property rights and better control of government spending. Congo is ranked 46th among 47 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and its overall score is far below the regional and world averages.
Congo’s economy has been in the lower half of the economically repressed category for 22 of the past 24 years. Matching that performance, GDP growth has been very weak for the past five years.
Scores for nine of Congo’s 12 Index indicators are below 50; its score for fiscal health is the fifth lowest in the world. The government is under pressure from the IMF to pursue economic and financial reforms aimed at restoring macroeconomic stability and debt sustainability and improving governance to achieve greater efficiency and transparency in the management of public resources.
The Republic of the Congo became independent from France in 1960. Denis Sassou-Nguesso seized power in 1979 and ruled until 1992, when he allowed a multiparty election to be conducted and was defeated. He seized power again following a 1997 civil war and then won flawed elections in 2002, 2009, and 2016. A referendum approved in 2015 modified the constitutional limits to permit Sassou-Nguesso to run again. Congo is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s largest oil producers, but it lacks the infrastructure needed to exploit its natural gas reserves and hydropower potential. China plans to build a special economic zone in the port city of Pointe-Noire, and Congo shipped its first iron ore exports early in 2019.
Enforcement of property rights is inconsistent. Contract terms are not transparent, and “informal” tax collectors regularly solicit bribes. The judiciary, independent in principle but crippled by institutional weakness and a lack of technical capability, is vulnerable to corruption and political influence. Corruption remains rampant. The president’s family and advisers effectively control the state oil company without any meaningful oversight.
The top individual income tax rate is 45 percent, and the top corporate rate is 34 percent. Other taxes include a value-added tax and a tax on rental values. The overall tax burden equals 22.1 percent of total domestic income. Government spending has amounted to 38.2 percent of the country’s output (GDP) over the past three years, and budget deficits have averaged 7.5 percent of GDP. Public debt is equivalent to 98.5 percent of GDP.
Obstacles include a lack of transparency and government inefficiency in obtaining land titles, paying taxes, and negotiating natural resources contracts. The security situation is tumultuous, and infrastructure and Internet access are limited. The unemployment rate is very high. A modern labor market has yet to develop. Government subsidies have been reduced due to the reorganization of some formerly heavily subsidized and loss-making power and water state-owned enterprises.
The total value of exports and imports of goods and services equals 154.9 percent of GDP. The average applied tariff rate is 11.6 percent. Nontariff barriers further undercut the dynamic benefits of trade. Government openness to foreign investment is below average, and the investment framework is inadequate. The underdeveloped financial system is dominated by banks, and overall financial intermediation is low.