Gabon - Country Commercial Guide
Investment Climate Statement

The Investment Climate Statement Chapter of the CCG is provided by the State Department. 

Last published date: 2021-10-12

The U.S. Department of State’s Investment Climate Statements provide information on the business climates of more than 170 economies and are prepared by economic officers stationed in embassies and posts around the world.  They analyze a variety of economies that are or could be markets for U.S. businesses.

Topics include Openness to Investment, Legal and Regulatory systems, Dispute Resolution, Intellectual Property Rights, Transparency, Performance Requirements, State-Owned Enterprises, Responsible Business Conduct, and Corruption.

These statements highlight persistent barriers to further U.S. investment.  Addressing these barriers would expand high-quality, private sector-led investment in infrastructure, further women’s economic empowerment, and facilitate a healthy business environment for the digital economy.

Executive Summary

Gabon is a historically stable country located in a volatile region of the world and has significant economic advantages:  a small population (roughly 2 million), an abundance of natural resources, and a strategic location along the Gulf of Guinea.  After taking office in 2009, President Ali Bongo Ondimba introduced reforms to diversify Gabon’s economy away from oil and from traditional investment partners and to position Gabon as an emerging economy.  Gabon promotes foreign investment across a range of sectors, particularly in the oil and gas, infrastructure, timber, ecotourism, and mining sectors.  Despite these efforts, Gabon’s economy remains dependent on revenue generated by the exportation of hydrocarbons.  Gabon’s commercial ties with France remain very strong, but the government continues to seek to diversify its sources of investment by courting investors from the rest of the world.  In 2018, the Gabonese government lifted exit visa requirements for U.S. citizens.

Although Gabon is taking steps towards making the country a more attractive destination for foreign investment, it remains a difficult place to do business, especially without in-country or francophone experience.  Foreign firms are active in the country, particularly in the extractive industries, but the difficulty involved in establishing a new business and the time it takes to finalize deals are impediments to increased U.S. private sector investment.  In order to attract new investment into the country, Gabon adopted a new hydrocarbon code and a new Mining code in July, 2019. These laws will provide a modernized basis for the legal, institutional, technical, economic, customs and tax regimes of the Gabonese hydrocarbons and mining sector.

Corruption and lack of transparency remain an impediment to investment.   The Gabonese government inconsistently applies customs regulations. Economic conditions in Gabon weakened throughout 2017, 2018, and 2019.  In addition to budget constraints due to low oil prices, the government lacks fiscal transparency.  Many international companies, including U.S. firms, continue to have difficulties collecting timely payments from the Gabonese government, and some companies in the oil sector have closed down operations.  To address fiscal imbalances, Gabon signed in June of 2017 a three-year Extended Fund Facility arrangement of $642 million with the IMF, which has now expired.  While opportunities exist, the investment climate in Gabon will remain difficult as the government must have the political will to make prudent decisions.  In 2019, higher oil prices, new investments in the oil sector and export processing zones, and the increasing manganese production helped support a modest recovery of economic growth of about 2,8 percent (according to the IMF estimates).

To access the ICS, visit the U.S. Department of Department of State’s Investment Climate Statement website.