Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, and other issues that affect trade.
Gabon is located on the Gulf of Guinea in Africa and has a population of approximately 2.3 million.
President Ali Bongo Ondimba was first elected president in 2009 and reelected in 2016. Gabon is a multiparty democracy. The ruling Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) controls the government, the National Assembly and the Senate, and most local offices. The next presidential election is expected to take place in August 2023.
President Ali Bongo Ondimba’s 2012 reform plan, “The Strategic Plan for an Emerging Gabon,” focused on developing infrastructure and promoting sustainable development and the growth of Gabon’s services and manufacturing industries by 2025. The objective was to diversify an economy that has largely depended on the petroleum sector for revenue generation. On February 17, 2021, Prime Minister Rose Christiane Ossouka Raponda signed a decree that created 20 task forces to implement priority reforms of its Transformation Acceleration Plan (PAT, 2021-2023). As part of the implementation of the PAT, the Minister of Investment Promotion launched a task force on the business environment in April 2021. The goal of the PAT is to strengthen the competitiveness of the regulatory and fiscal framework to support the development of the private and export sectors, based on six main activities: 1) relaunching meetings of the various bodies of the High Council for Investment (HCI), 2) strengthening the attractiveness and competitiveness of the regulatory framework for priority sectors, 3) reviewing the parafiscal system and digitization of administrative investment procedures, 4) disseminating a clear process for validating investment projects, 5) supporting program for small and medium-sized enterprises and industries (SMEs/SMIs), and 6) facilitating access to land.
Gabon’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $15.3 billion in 2021 (World Bank 2021 estimate). Aggravating other challenges including falling commodity prices, the COVID-19 pandemic crisis caused the Gabonese economy to go into recession in 2020-2021, but IMF forecasts predicted that recovery would occur in 2022. The IMF forecasted 2.8% growth for 2022 led by the increased demand for oil and the improving performance of the forestry sector.
Gabon’s per capita GDP of $6,892 (World Bank 2021) is one of the highest in sub-Saharan Africa. While Gabon is considered an upper middle-income country, income inequality remains high.
Gabon’s rankings on human social indicators do not reflect its relative wealth. The UNDP Human Development Index ranked Gabon 119th out of 165 (Home | Human Development Reports (undp.org) ) with data through December 2020. It estimated that 30 percent of the population had a monthly income below the guaranteed monthly minimum wage of $143.
Gabon’s largest industries are petroleum, minerals (mostly manganese), and timber. The government plans to develop Gabon’s agricultural sector and to improve its national infrastructure. While export restrictions remain on raw timber, the industry is expanding into the manufacturing of furniture and plywood products.
Gabon belongs to the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (Communauté Economique et Monétaire de l’Afrique Centrale, CEMAC) and uses the Central African franc (CFA), which is pegged to the euro (CFA 656 = €1).
Gabon gained independence from France in 1960 but it maintains strong economic, political, and cultural ties. The government has increased its bilateral and multilateral engagements as it attempts to diversify Gabon’s international relationships and has taken some steps to strengthen economic ties with the United States and other nations. Gabon joined the Commonwealth in June 2022.