2012 Investment Climate Statement
Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs
June 2012
Report

Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Gabon is open and actively encouraging foreign investment across a range of sectors. Foreign firms are active in the country's three main sources of income and exports: petroleum, manganese, and timber. The Gabonese Government is taking a more pro-active role to ensure transparency within these extractive industries through the creation of public-private partnerships and revised mining and oil codes. Gabon is actively working to improve its investment and business climate but several factors continue to constrain foreign investment in the non-extractive industries. These include a small domestic market, high production costs, a rigid labor market, limited and poor infrastructure (transportation, telecommunications, etc.), a cumbersome judicial system, and sometimes inconsistent customs regulations. Gabon's regulatory and judicial bodies can be subject to influence, creating uncertainty concerning fair treatment and the sanctity of contracts. Gabon’s commercial ties with France remain strong but the Government is looking to diversify its sources by courting Asian and Anglophone investors.

Gabon is affiliated to the Organization for Business Law Harmonization in Africa (OHADA). Legislation allows foreign investors to choose freely from a wide selection of legal business structures, such as a private limited liability company or public limited liability company. The distinctions arise primarily from the minimum capital requirements and the conditions under which shares may be re-sold. There are no restrictions on foreign investment in Gabon, but the state reserves the right to invest in the equity capital of ventures established in certain sectors (e.g., petroleum and mining). There are no other blanket requirements for local participation in the capital of local corporate entities, nor any systemic practices by private firms to restrict foreign investment, participation, or control.

The 1998 investment code conforms to Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC) investment regulations, providing the same rights to foreign companies operating in Gabon as to domestic firms. Businesses are protected from expropriation or nationalization without appropriate compensation, as determined by an independent third party. Certain sectors have specific investments codes, such as mining, forestry, petroleum and tourism, which encourage investment through customs and tax incentives. The Government is in the process of updating several of these codes to attract foreign investment.

In September 2011, the Private Investment Promotion Agency (APIP), formerly charged with the opening of new businesses, was completely dissolved. Two new entities were created in order to increase efficiency: The Export and Investment Promotion Agency (APEX), which assists Gabonese companies to invest and promote their businesses overseas, and the Center of Enterprises Development (CDE), which is in charge of helping new companies succeed on the domestic market.

The President’s Cabinet reviews foreign investment contracts after ministerial-level negotiations are completed. The Presidency takes a very active role in meeting with investors and ensuring that investments are made in a strategic and coherent manner, in line with the Government’s “Emerging Gabon” initiative which focuses on sustainable development, services, and manufacturing. Priority sectors for the Government are transportation, housing, public facilities, tourism, ports, and other large infrastructure projects. Regarding infrastructure investments, Gabon’s National Infrastructure Agency (ANGT) has sought technical expertise of U.S. engineering firm, Bechtel. ANGT’s mission is to build projects that add value, complete and inspect identified existing projects, and develop new projects within agreed schedules and budgets.

It is important to note that Gabon has improved on several major international indices in 2011. Notably, Gabon’s ranking improved by ten spots in Transparency International’s 2011 Index and by six spots in the Heritage Foundation’s Economic Freedom report.


If a scroll bar appears below the following table, swipe the table to move left/right of the dashed line.

Measure

Year

Index/Ranking

TI Corruption Index

2011

100

Heritage Economic Freedom

2011

110

World Bank Doing Business

2011

160

MCC Gov’t Effectiveness

2009

153

MCC Rule of Law

2009

142

MCC Control of Corruption

2011

100

MCC Fiscal Policy

2011

137

MCC Trade Policy

2011

132

MCC Regulatory Quality

MCC Business Start Up

2011

154

MCC Land Rights Access

2011

131

MCC Natural Resource Mgmt

Conversion and Transfer Policies

Gabon is a member of CEMAC and the Bank of Central African States (BEAC). The other members in these organizations are Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea, and Chad. Gabon’s currency is the franc of the Communauté Financière Africaine (CFA). The CFA is convertible and tied to the euro; 1 euro equals 657 CFA and 1 dollar is roughly equivalent to 500 CFA.

Foreign investors have the option of opening local bank accounts in CFA, dollars, or Euros. There is no difficulty obtaining foreign exchange, with the three main commercial banks providing currency exchange services at non-prohibitive rates. Under Gabonese law, documentation is required to substantiate the need for any foreign exchange over one million CFA (approximately USD $2,300).

There are no legal restrictions on converting or transferring funds associated with an investment, including the inflow or outflow of funds for remittances of investment capital, earnings, profits, etc. CEMAC regulations require banks to record and report the identity of customers engaging in transactions over $10,000. Additionally, financial institutions must maintain records of large transactions for five years. CEMAC regulations do not stipulate a threshold amount for transactions to be reported. Under Gabonese law, however, documentation is required to substantiate the need for any foreign exchange over one million CFA (approximately $2,300). Transfers within the CEMAC zone are not restricted.

In August 2008, the BVMAC (Bourse des Valeurs Mobilieres de L’Afrique Centrale), a Central African regional stock exchange created in 2003, was officially launched in Libreville. Overall authority for Gabon's exchange control system rests with the Department of Economic Control and External Finance within the Ministry of Economy. It currently operates using public financing from the government, with a value of 100 billion CFA (about $200 million). In November 2009, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the World Bank's private sector lender, launched a $43 million Central African bond which was listed on the Central African regional stock exchange in Libreville as well as the Douala Stock Exchange in Cameroon.

On average, the delay for remitting investments returns is between three and six months, depending on the type of contract that is signed. There is no limitation on inflow or outflows. An investor is authorized to remit on a legal parallel market so long as they justify the reasons for the transaction and respect the signed contract.

Expropriation and Compensation

Foreign firms established in Gabon operate on an equal basis with national companies. Under Gabonese law, business investments that are expropriated must first be compensated as determined by an independent third party. The Gabonese Government has not exhibited any recent tendency to discriminate against U.S. investments, companies, or representatives in expropriation, nor have there been any indications or reports of incidences of "creeping expropriation," such as through confiscatory tax regimes.

There are no recent examples of property being expropriated. However, there is an example of a Chinese company being asked to renegotiate a mining permit. In June 2006, the government awarded the China National Machinery and Equipment Import and Export Corporation (CMEC) the permit for the Belinga iron ore mine. However, this year the Gabonese Government asked CMEC to come up with a new proposal for the Belinga project due to environmental and transparency concerns. A Chinese delegation is expected in Libreville in January 2012 to discuss the permit.

There is no general requirement for local participation in investments. Many businesses find it useful to have a local partner who can help navigate the subjective factors in the business environment.

Dispute Settlement

There have been instances of disputes with U.S. firms, but most disputes are resolved before going to outside arbitration. Both settlements and monetary judgments are usually made in the currency on which the business contract was based, whether CFA or the foreign investor’s currency.

Gabon's legal system is based on the French model, with a written code of commercial law. The law is not consistently applied; Gabon’s judicial bodies are subject to political influence, creating uncertainty concerning fair treatment and the sanctity of contracts. Foreign court and international arbitration decisions are accepted, but enforcement may be difficult.

Gabon is a member of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and the New York Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards. However, Gabon has not adopted specific legislation to enforce awards resulting from ICSID or New York Convention decisions. Gabon is also a party to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), and the Organization for Business Law Harmonization in Africa (OHADA), which provides an International Court of Justice and Arbitration (CCJA) common to its 16 member countries for the settlement of conflicts related to business law implementation.

Performance Requirements and Incentives

There are no specific performance requirements imposed as a condition for establishing, maintaining, or expanding investment. There are no requirements for investors to buy local products, to export a certain percentage of output, or to invest in a specific geographical area. There is no blanket requirement that nationals own shares in foreign investments in Gabon that the share of foreign equity be reduced over time, or that technology be transferred on certain terms. Nonetheless, many investors find it useful to have a local partner who can help navigate the subjective factors in the business environment.

Foreign investors must recruit and train Gabonese citizens to gradually take on their own responsibilities, particularly at the executive level. Accordingly, hiring foreigners is subject to prior authorization from the Ministry of Labor. The hiring company must provide evidence prior to employing a foreigner that there are no qualified Gabonese to fill the position. Foreign firms have stated that there is a lack of qualified Gabonese workers, requiring companies to often request authorization to hire foreigners. Non-Gabonese Africans find it increasingly difficult to obtain employment authorization; non-African expatriates have less difficulty. Chinese industry in Gabon historically imports their labor force. There is a law pending that would limit foreign workers to 10% of all sectors; the law has not yet been ratified. In the petroleum sector, the Gabonese labor union (ONEP) is particularly focused on ensuring that foreign workers only occupy 10% of the labor force and continually pressure the government to implement and enforce the law. At present, about 5,000 Gabonese are employed in the oil sector. In October 2011, immigration authorities performed document checks in Port Gentil as part of an operation to enforce labor laws and protect Gabonese employment in the oil sector. Such checks, although targeted on foreign workers, are rare.

Gabon's main industries, petroleum, mining and timber, encourage investment through customs and tax incentives. For example, oil and mining companies are exempt from customs duty on imported working equipment. The Government has attempted to promote tourism with the

Tourism Investment Code of 2000, which provides tax exemptions to foreign tourism investors during the first eight years of operation, tax-free imports, and other administrative incentives. Since 2005, the Gabonese authorities have been working on developing the country’s ecotourism landscape. The Government is working to strengthen the management of the 13 Gabonese national parks in partnership with international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). In 2011, the Ministry of Tourism implemented a classification of hotels and restaurants across the country in preparation for the 2012 African Cup of Nations (CAN), allocating stars to hotels and restaurants based on quality of service and conditions of the establishment. This classification will serve to professionalize the hotel sector and to attract tourists and investors alike.

President Ali Bongo Ondimba made a strategic decision in 2009 to outlaw the export of unprocessed wood in order to boost Gabon's capacity to enjoy more domestic benefits from one of its top exports. The Government and Singaporean-based firm Olam have set up a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) to process timber products. The SEZ provides several single-window business services to participants and provides new investors with lucrative and beneficial fiscal incentives, including tax-free operation for ten years, no custom duties on imported machinery and parts, and 100% repatriation of funds. U.S. company Timberwolf has purchased a plot in the SEZ and will soon begin construction of wood-processing saw mills. Gabonese, French, Malaysian, Chinese, Indian, Singaporean, Cameroonian, and Ghanaian companies are all investing in the SEZ.

As a member of CEMAC, Gabon's trade with other member countries (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, and Equatorial Guinea) is subject to low or no customs duties.

Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Any legal entity or person wishing to do business in Gabon must request prior permission from the Ministry of Economy. Foreign investors are largely treated in the same manner as their Gabonese counterparts with regard to the purchase of real estate, negotiation of licenses, and entering into commercial agreements.

Protection of Property Rights

Secured interest in property is recognized, and the recording system is fairly reliable. Under the 1998 investment code, no investment can be expropriated without prior just compensation as determined by an independent third party. As a member of CEMAC and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Gabon adheres to the laws of the African Intellectual Property Office (OAPI). Based in Yaounde, Cameroon, OAPI aims to ensure the publication and protection of patent rights, encourage creativity and transfer of technology, and create favorable conditions for research. As a member of OAPI, Gabon acceded to a number of international agreements on patents and intellectual property, including the Paris Convention, the Berne Convention and the Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization. As a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Gabon is also a signatory of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS). U.S. firms do not raise intellectual property rights concerns with the U.S. Embassy in Gabon.

Transparency of the Regulatory System

Regulatory procedures are streamlined and no laws or policies are used to impede foreign investment. Nevertheless, at times government policies and laws do not establish "clear rules of the game” and firms can have difficulty navigating the bureaucracy. While great strides are being made to modernize and make the Gabonese Government more efficient, hurdles and red tape remain, especially at the lower and mid levels of the ministries. Gabon's regulatory bodies are subject to influence, creating uncertainty concerning fair treatment and the sanctity of contracts. Additionally, as a former French colony, Gabon maintains strong economic ties with France. Despite recent efforts to diversify foreign investment, these strong ties can make investment by firms with other national affiliations difficult. Lack of French language skills can put American or non-Francophone firms at a disadvantage as well but this is changing as Gabon puts more emphasis on English language skills.

Tax, environment, health, and safety laws and policies are transparent and consistent with international norms, and do not impede investment. Labor laws, on the other hand, are considered by many investors to be unusually weighted toward workers’ interests, which tend to impede investment.

There are no informal or nongovernmental regulatory procedures in place. Proposed laws and regulations are not published in draft form for public comment.

Efficient Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

The Bank of the Central African States (BEAC), headquartered in Cameroon, regulates the banking system. Overall authority for Gabon's exchange control system rests with the Ministry of Budget. Gabon's banking system includes one development bank, the Gabonese Development Bank (BGD), and five commercial banks. The BGD normally lends to small and medium-sized companies. The International Gabonese and French Bank (BGFI) is the principal bank in Gabon and the first investment group in the CEMAC zone. Their total assets totaled over $2 billion in 2010. There is one American bank (Citigroup) present in Gabon.

Commercial banks offer most corporate banking services, or can procure them from overseas. Local credit to the private sector is limited and expensive but available to both foreign and local investors on equal terms. The country's main economic actors, the oil companies, finance themselves outside Gabon. Commercial banks have transferred excess liquidity to correspondent banks outside the region.

The Central Africa Regional Stock Exchange (BVMAC) began operation in August 2008, but is still in its embryonic stage.

Competition from State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs)

Gabonese SOEs are managed by civil servants appointed by Gabonese authorities and work primarily in the energy and social sectors, such as pensions, hospitals, and housing agencies. They often have a monopoly on the sectors in which they operate; sectors may not be open and this may unfairly burden foreign investors.

Private enterprises are allowed to compete with public enterprises under open market access conditions. However, they may face disadvantages with bureaucratic hurdles. Public enterprises may be granted priority over private enterprises, and typically private enterprises will pay more and wait longer for the same services and licenses. There are no specific laws or rules that offer preferential treatment to SOEs.

The budget of each SOE is prepared and submitted each year by the corresponding Ministry in each sector. Gabon has two types of SOEs - the Para-SOEs and the SOEs. The management of these two types of SOEs depends on the division of shares. There are no limits of participation of private enterprise. There is no statutory list or prohibited sectors to private investment.

Corporate governance of SOEs usually consists of a board of directors who are under the authority of the related Ministry. The members of the board are chosen by each Ministry. The board seats are allocated not specifically to government officials, and can be chosen from the general public. The SOEs often consult with their Ministry before undertaking any important business decisions.

Since 1998, Gabon maintained a reserve account at the BEAC to be used as a fund for future generations. In 2010, Gabon converted it to a Sovereign Wealth Fund (SWF) called the Sovereign Fund of the Gabonese Republic. The fund amounts to about $10 million and is managed by a presidential decree. In 2011, Gabon set up a stimulus fund to carry funds for capital projects over into the next budget year to improve the oversight and quality of spending and release resources for growth-enhancing and social projects. The Government reserves these funds for strategic projects in line with the “Emerging Gabon” economic agenda.

Corporate Social Responsibility

There is a general awareness of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) among both producers and consumers. Many international companies in Gabon are involved in CSR projects and continue to look for ways to contribute to Gabon’s social sector. The British oil company Shell funds a foundation in southern Gabon which is undertaking conservation and biodiversity programs. Total, a French oil company, developed several CSR projects in Gabon in 2011, including renovating the Port Gentil airport and investing in the underground cable which will allow Gabon to increase internet speed and reduce costs. Foreign competition in extractive and non-extractive industries is increasing CSR activities in Gabon. The Government is actively encouraging these programs.

Political Violence

In June 2009, President Omar Bongo Ondimba, who had been head of state since 1967, died. On August 30, 2009, Ali Bongo Ondimba, the son of the late President, won the election with 41% of the vote. The announcement of the election results on September 3, 2009 sparked protests in Libreville and violence in Port Gentil, where rioters set the French Consulate on fire. Police and military forces quickly dispersed protesters. The Government maintained a heavy security presence in Port Gentil for the following months. There were no further demonstrations.

In January 2011, André Mba Obame, former Interior Minister and Secretary General of the opposition party National Union (UN), self-proclaimed himself as President of Gabon in violation of the Constitution. Mba Obame occupied the headquarters of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) for over one month. During that time, his supporters were responsible for several outbreaks of violence that resulted in the death of a police officer and property destruction. The UN was dissolved in July 2011 for violating the Constitution and laws regulating political parties. Mba Obame was allowed to leave the country for medical treatment in South Africa, where he still remains. Legislative elections were held without incident on December 17, 2011.

Corruption

The Government continues to take steps to identify and root out corruption in its own bureaucracies, contracting and procurement system, and in the security forces. The government has actively sought the technical expertise of international organizations and corporations, including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the IFC, Olam, Bechtel, and Alex Stewart to audit procurement processes, make recommendations to enhance transparency, and advise on procedures to entice foreign investment. Gabon is aware of its existing capacity constraints and wants to ensure a sound, well-sequenced, and cost-efficient implementation of its plan. The Government is seeking to implement anti-corruption measures and to change the way of doing business after former President Omar Bongo’s 40 year rule of patronage and non-transparent management of natural resources. While the Presidency is committed to doing business in a transparent way, U.S. firms do at times report difficulty in dealing with lower levels of various ministries. It will take time for President Bongo Ondimba to weed out the “old school” bureaucrats that threaten his ambitious reform agenda.

Since his election in 2009, President Bongo Ondimba has launched a number of reforms aimed at reducing corruption, including cutting the size of the cabinet in half, demoting or stripping ministers of responsibilities when corruption allegations surfaced, arresting several high profile officials for corruption, conducting an audit of all government ministries to identify ghost workers, consolidating miscellaneous "slush" funds from ministries into the central treasury, and increasing oversight of government infrastructure projects. Some of his initial actions included a new ethics code for government officials and orders for ex-government officials to turn in their government vehicles and properties and to publicly declare their assets. In October 2010, Bongo Ondimba ordered the arrests of Gabonese officials involved in a multi-million dollar scandal at the BEAC's Paris Bureau and announced Gabon's full cooperation with French investigators.

The Commission to Combat Illicit Enrichment, established in 2004 and charged with publishing quarterly and annual reports on its activities, has ramped up its activities in the past year. As previously noted, Transparency International’s 2011 Index ranked Gabon at 100, a significant improvement over the previous year by 10 rungs.

In 2010 and 2011, the Gabonese Government respected its commitment to the IMF by working to increase economic reforms. The government undertook a series of audits to prepare for such reforms: a water and electricity systems audit in February 2011, an oil sector audit in March 2011, and a scholarship and training procedures audit in March 2011. Also in March, the government issued the complete dismissal of the Ministry of Housing’s civil servants in the fight against systemic corruption.

The Gabonese Government also set up two new companies, Gabon Oil Company and Gabon Equatorial Mining Company, with the objective to improve the judicial, financial, and fiscal transparency of Gabon and to fight against corruption in the oil and mining sectors. President Bongo Ondimba recruited top-notch Gabonese managers, with proven international experience in the oil and mining sectors, to lead the new companies. Along with this development, Gabon is reforming its oil and mining codes to develop a more attractive regulatory framework to draw investors to Gabon’s extractive industries. The aim of the companies is to ensure transparency in the government’s investment and revenues from natural resources.

Gabon is a participant in the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which aims to provide more transparency in accounting for revenues from petroleum and mining industries. Gabon has been a candidate for the EITI since 2007. In October 2010, the EITI Board designated Gabon as an EITI Candidate country that is “Close to Compliant”. As set out in EITI Policy Note #3, the designation of "Close to Compliant" applies in cases where the EITI Board considers that a Candidate country has not only made meaningful progress, but can reasonably be expected to achieve compliance within a short period. At its meeting in Amsterdam in June 2011, the EITI International Board decided to renew Gabon's EITI Candidate status for 18 months (until December 2012), by which time Gabon will be required to have completed an EITI Validation that demonstrates compliance with the 2011 edition of the EITI Rules.

As a BEAC country, the Government of Gabon has a National Financial Investigations Agency (ANIF). ANIF serves to investigate domestic corruption and money laundering issues while maintaining contact and collaboration with its regional counterparts. Gabon signed the United Nations Convention against Corruption in December 2003 and ratified it in October 2007.

No international or regional watchdog organizations operate in Gabon and local civil society lacks capacity to play a significant role in highlighting cases of corruption. However, during the past year, there has been a slight uptick in anti-corruption activities by civil society. Several local non-governmental organizations have targeted alleged corruption on the part of high-level government officials, including several Ministers.

Bilateral Investment Agreements

As of January 2012, the United States has no bilateral investment or taxation treaty with Gabon. Negotiations have been underway, but await interagency agreement in Washington on the template. Gabon is a beneficiary of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a framework for U.S. trade, investment and development policy for sub-Saharan Africa. Gabon has bilateral investment agreements with the following countries: Belgium, Luxembourg, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Italy, Lebanon, Mali, Morocco, Portugal, Sao Tome and Principe, South Africa, and Spain. There is a bilateral investment agreement among CEMAC member countries as well.

OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is open to providing services to U.S. investors in Gabon and has done so in the past. Gabon is also a member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), which guarantees foreign investment protection in cases of war, strife, disasters, or expropriation. MIGA is a branch of the World Bank Group. The U.S. Government's Export-Import Bank provides finance facilities to both the public and private sectors in Gabon.

Gabon’s currency is the franc of the Central African Communaute Financiere Africaine (CFA), which is convertible and tied to the euro; 1 euro equals 657 CFA and 1 dollar equals approximately 500 CFA. (The Central African CFA is also used in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, Equatorial Guinea and Chad.) We do not anticipate any inconvertibility problems for the CFA as long as the peg to the euro remains.

Labor

Gabon's population is approximately 1.4 million, of which as many as 25% are foreigners (mostly Africans from neighboring countries). Foreign firms report a shortage of highly skilled Gabonese labor. Chinese industry in particular imports the majority of its workers from China. Authorization from the Ministry of Labor is required in order to hire foreigners. Non-Gabonese Africans find it increasingly difficult to obtain employment authorization; non-African expatriates have less difficulty. Non-Gabonese Africans take up most positions requiring unskilled labor. Skilled labor costs are high and are kept so by a labor code inspired by a French model that strongly defends the rights of Gabonese workers. Labor unions and confederations are active. There is a law pending that would limit foreign workers to 10% of a company’s workforce, but the law has yet to be ratified. In particular, the Gabonese oil workers’ labor union (ONEP) is pressuring the Government to implement the law quickly.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports

A new Special Economic Zone (SEZ) opened in September 2011 near the port of Owendo in Libreville. The construction is a joint partnership between the Government of Gabon and Olam, a Singapore-based corporation with interests in Gabonese timber. In August 2011, the Government announced it would partner with Olam to build a fertilizer factory at the Mandji Free Trade Zone in Port-Gentil. The factory, not yet open, will be operational in 2014 and will create 300 direct employment opportunities. Both economic zones will offer tax and customs incentives to attract foreign investors.

Foreign Direct Investment Statistics

According to the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Country Fact Sheet on Gabon, the total value of inward foreign direct investment (FDI) in place in Gabon in 2010 was $1438 million (compared to $1267 million in 2009). Annual direct investment into Gabon in 2008 was $20 million (compared to $269 million in 2007).

The UNCTAD Gabon Fact Sheet also indicates that the total value of Gabonese direct investment abroad in 2010 was $663 million (compared to $582 million in 2009.) Annual direct investment capital flow out of Gabon in 2008 was $96 million (compared $59 million in 2007).

Most foreign investment comes from France and is concentrated in petroleum (Total) and manganese (COMILOG/ERAMET). According to the French Ministry of Economy/Commerce, France is the main supplier of goods to Gabon, and Gabon is the second largest recipient of French FDI in Africa. Most foreign investment (including that of the U.S.) is concentrated in the oil sector. Major foreign companies in Gabon include Total, Shell, Perenco, Vaalco, Bechtel, and COMILOG.

The Gabonese Government is focused on attracting FDI for assistance with critical infrastructure projects and has taken several measures to strengthen public investment management and transparency. A National Infrastructure Agency (ANGT) was set up to manage the identification, planning, management, and implementation of large public infrastructure projects. The American engineering corporation, Bechtel, is providing ANGT with technical expertise.

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