U.S. businesses operate successfully in the following Ivoirian sectors: agriculture and value-added agribusiness processing; power generation and energy; information technology (IT) services; digital economy; banking; insurance; and infrastructure. U.S. businesses have thrived in the Ivoirian cocoa sector for decades and continue to find success in the consulting and financial services industries. However, the country’s French-based legal, commercial, and financial systems combined with relationship-focused business practices and European technical standards are unfamiliar to many prospective American entrants to the market. Companies that operate successfully in the country often select fluent French speakers and local or regional staff to lead their operations. Other obstacles include:
- Slow and/or opaque decision-making process within the Ivoirian government.
- Distance and associated higher freight rates and longer transit times to/from the United States as compared to Europe.
- Consolidated product packaging for French-speaking countries in West Africa, which affords businesses operated by French speakers a cost advantage.
- More favorable credit terms for European suppliers, according to local importers, such as longer maturity and lower interest rates.
- High customs-clearance costs and uncertain customs-clearance times for new importers.
- Limited Ivoirian purchasing power for U.S.-made consumer goods.
- Restrictions on foreign direct investment in the health sector, in law and accounting firms, and in travel agencies. Partnership with local firms in those sectors requires government approval, and majority foreign ownership of companies in these sectors is not permitted.