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- GDP (PPP):
- $2.5 billion
- -36.0% growth
- -6.3% 5-year compound annual growth
- $542 per capita
- Inflation (CPI):
- FDI Inflow:
The Central African Republic’s economic freedom score is 45.9, making its economy the 166th freest in the 2015 Index. Its overall score is 0.8 point lower than last year, with modest gains in the rule of law undermined by declines in six other areas. The CAR is ranked 41st out of 46 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and its overall score is lower than the regional average.
Over the past five years, economic freedom in the CAR has declined by 3.4 points, with score decreases in the past two years wiping out steady improvements earlier in the decade. Score declines in eight of the 10 economic freedoms indicate deteriorations across such key policy areas as market openness and regulatory efficiency. In the 2015 Index, the CAR has registered its lowest economic freedom score ever.
The Central African Republic’s overall entrepreneurial environment remains severely constrained, burdened by overregulation that pushes many entrepreneurs into the informal sector. Poor access to credit and high financing costs further suppress the development of a vibrant private sector. Since 2013, state institutions have collapsed, and the economy has contracted sharply.
In 2013, Seleka rebels ousted President François Bozizé and seized power under the leadership of Michel Djotodia. Widespread atrocities carried out by the Seleka militia spurred the emergence of the “anti-balaka” militia, comprised of Christians opposed to Seleka rule. France sent forces to the former French colony in December 2013, and a U.N. peacekeeping force was deployed in September 2014. Djotodia stepped down early in 2014 after failing to stop sectarian violence and was replaced by interim President Catherine Samba-Panza. General elections are scheduled for early 2015. The CAR is one of the world’s least-developed countries. More than half of the population lives in rural areas and depends on subsistence agriculture. The CAR has abundant timber, diamonds gold, uranium, and prospects for oil exploration.
A 2013 coup d’état disrupted the economy and amplified a state of lawlessness, and despite growing financial and military support, the interim government is struggling to restore stability. Corruption remains pervasive. Armed groups are involved in the illicit trade and exploitation of natural resources, especially gold and diamonds, which account for more than half of export earnings. Protection of property rights is weak.
The Central African Republic’s top individual income tax rate is 50 percent, and its top corporate tax rate is 30 percent. Other taxes include a value-added tax. The overall tax burden equals 9.8 percent of gross domestic product. Government expenditures equal 16.3 percent of the domestic economy, and public debt is about half the size of the domestic economy.
Progress in improving the business framework has been slow and uneven. Labor regulations are not generally enforced, and the labor market remains poorly developed. Most of the population is employed outside of the formal sector, primarily in agriculture. Government distortions of the economy through subsidies and wage/price controls are aggravated by political instability that undermines the basic functioning of state institutions.
The Central African Republic’s average tariff rate is 16.3 percent. Imports of products like sugar face additional restrictions, and exports may be subject to taxation. Political instability continues to be a serious deterrent to foreign investment. Poor access to credit significantly hinders private-sector growth. The banking system remains highly dependent on the government and state-owned companies.