Gabon - Country Commercial Guide
Market Challenges
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Doing business in Gabon presents well-known challenges that the government is addressing with mixed results.  Business development is challenging due to excessive bureaucracy, corruption, the absence of a clearly established and consistent process for companies to enter the market, high production costs, a small domestic market, rigid labor laws and work visa requirements, limited and poor infrastructure, outdated laws and regulations, a cumbersome judicial system, and inconsistent application of customs regulations.  A preponderance of French companies dominate the country’s business sector, where knowledge of French language and culture is a necessity in doing business, though their portion of the sector has been decreasing in recent years.  The government, however, is pursuing an effort to make Gabon a more multilingual country by encouraging English as a second language.

Gabon’s economy increased in 2022 by 3.1 percent. The country’s trade balance and its public finances have benefited from high commodity prices, particularly exports such as oil, timber, and manganese, though the Gabonese economy is therefore heavily reliant on these extractive industries.  Gabon’s dependence on the export of raw materials leaves it vulnerable to external factors that influence price.  In 2022, however, Gabon recorded its strongest budgetary surplus since the 2014 oil price shocks (World Bank June 2023 report) due to the significant increase in oil prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  

Gabon’s lack of sufficient modern infrastructure, such as all-weather roads connecting major economic centers, makes doing business across the country costly and time-consuming, especially in more remote areas outside of Libreville.  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 operations.