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- GDP (PPP):
- $20.0 billion
- 4.5% growth
- 5.6% 5-year compound annual growth
- $4,791 per capita
- Inflation (CPI):
- FDI Inflow:
The Republic of Congo’s economic freedom score is 42.7, making its economy the 170th freest in the 2015 Index. Its overall score is 1.0 point worse than last year, with improvements in investment freedom, trade freedom, business freedom, and freedom from corruption counterbalanced by declines in the control of government spending and labor freedom. 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.
Large sections of the population remain trapped in poverty. Government remains involved in leading economic sectors, and institutional constraints force many small entrepreneurs to operate informally. Lack of an effective independent judiciary, corruption, and an oppressive regulatory environment hamper the development of a dynamic private sector.
These institutional difficulties are reflected in Congo’s declining score over the past five years. Economic freedom has fallen significantly in three of the 10 factors. A 19-point decline in government spending highlights the government’s continued interference in the domestic economy, and the regulatory environment has become particularly burdensome for entrepreneurs and workers.
Congo became independent in 1960. After seizing power in 1979, Denis Sassou-Nguesso governed the country as a Marxist–Leninist state before moderating economic policy and allowing multi-party elections in 1992. He lost to Pascal Lissouba but seized power again following a 1997 civil war, won a flawed election in 2002, and won a seven-year term in 2009 in a similarly dubious election. Civil war militias remain active in the southern Pool region. Congo is sub-Saharan Africa’s fourth-largest oil producer, but lack of infrastructure has prevented the exploitation of its sizable natural gas reserves and significant hydropower potential. Seventy percent of the population lives in poverty. As of mid-2013, Congo hosted more than 60,000 refugees from Angola, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Rwanda.
Corruption is almost invariably linked to doing business in Congo. There is an absence of substantiated figures on government revenues and spending. Contract terms are not transparent, and “informal” tax collectors regularly solicit bribes. The judiciary is underfunded and crippled by institutional weakness and a lack of technical capability. The state oil company is directly controlled by the president’s family and advisers.
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 8.7 percent of gross domestic output. Government spending is equivalent to 36.2 percent of GDP, and public debt equals about 25 percent of the domestic economy. Rebels continue to undermine tax collection.
The process for establishing a company is now more streamlined, but paid-in minimum capital required to launch a business almost equals the level of average annual income. The formal labor market is not fully developed, and cumbersome labor codes hinder job growth. Government ownership and subsidization of the large public sector affect the prices of a range of goods and services.
The average tariff rate is 14.7 percent. Congo is a member of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community. Exports may be taxed, and imports of sugar are restricted. Foreign investors face bureaucratic hurdles. The financial sector remains limited in depth and scope. The number of banks has increased to 10, but the sector remains underdeveloped, and total assets equal only about 20 percent of GDP.