Discusses key economic indicators and trade statistics, which countries are dominant in the market, the U.S. market share, the political situation if relevant, the top reasons why U.S. companies should consider exporting to this country, and other issues that affect trade, e.g., terrorism, currency devaluations, trade agreements.Last Published:6/26/2017
Presidential and legislative elections were held in February 2016, with a presidential run-off held in March 2016. President Issoufou Mahamadou was re-elected to a second five-year term with a resounding 92.5 percent of the vote in the run-off. Economic policy in 2017 will hinge on efforts to combat regional insecurity and pursue critical infrastructure projects. The new government is firmly committed to improving the business climate, which is the key to development of the private sector and attracting foreign investment.
The 2016 World Bank Doing Business report ranked Niger overall at 160 out of 189 economies surveyed. However, the same report rated Niger considerably higher in the ease of starting a business/business registration category, ranking the country at sixth within the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) and 134th overall. This reflects a jump of 43 places compared to the previous edition.
The 2015 Mo Ibrahim African Governance Index listed Niger as among countries that have improved in terms of “Participation and Human Rights,” giving it a score of 48.4 out of 100.
In April 2014, Niger instituted a new Investment Code. Under this code, industrial investors enjoy tax and customs exemptions, and in some cases, exemptions from value added tax (VAT). Niger has continued to streamline its business processes since then to facilitate investment.
The Investment Code contains no provisions for screening, and guarantees equal treatment of investors regardless of nationality. The National Council of Private Investors (CNIP) is charged with reviewing Niger’s investment climate and performance and proposing specific actions to address national investment priorities.
The government wants to speed up its investment in growth and development, and actively seeks foreign private investment, including from the United States, and considers investment key to restoring economic growth and development.
Continued low oil and commodity prices, as well as regional crises slowed growth in 2015, but stronger growth occurred in 2016, due to an expected expansion of agriculture and increases in public and private investments. Government spending on infrastructure and agriculture is also expected to boost this revival.
The oil and mining sector will remain a key component of GDP, although uranium production will fall gradually as Areva’s Cominak and Somair uranium mines approach the end of their mining lives. In February 2016, the GON awarded a production license to a Canadian mining firm, GoviEx, for the Madaouela project in the north-east of the country. The budget policy since 2016 reflects the GON intent to reduce the fiscal deficit.
Government spending will continue to rise, owing to increased outlays on defense, as the conflict with the neighboring Nigerian-based Boko Haram continues and continued demand for social spending in a country with the highest population growth in the world. Inflation remains below one percent, according to the IMF. The budget policy for 2017 reflects the GON intent to reduce the fiscal deficit while safeguarding expenditures on priority sectors.
The GON’s Economic and Social Development Program (PDES 2016 – 2020) is designed to improve the standard of living and is built around eight platforms: cultural development, institutional consolidation, security, infrastructure development, education, health, access to clean water, and job creation.
In Niger 67% of the population is below 25 years of age. Youth unemployment and underemployment is a major problem.
Niger works for regional integration through the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), but major efforts are still needed if steps taken so far, especially concerning trade, are to become effective. As a member state of the WAEMU, Niger adopted permanent preferential tariffs for internal trade. Niger shares a common currency, the CFA, with other WAEMU members; the CFA is pegged to the Euro. Niger is also a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA) and, as such, has a well-established legal and regulatory framework.
The CFA is freely convertible to euros or dollars. International investors have not reported difficulty with such transfers. The CFA is pegged at CFA 655.96 to the euro and fluctuates against the dollar in line with the euro-dollar exchange rates.
There have been no expropriations since the 1970s and there is no pattern of discrimination against foreign firms.
Niger is a member state of the AGOA trade compact with the United States, having regained its eligibility in October 2011.
Prepared by our U.S. Embassies abroad. With its network of 108 offices across the United States and in more than 75 countries, the U.S. Commercial Service of the U.S. Department of Commerce utilizes its global presence and international marketing expertise to help U.S. companies sell their products and services worldwide. Locate the U.S. Commercial Service trade specialist in the U.S. nearest you by visiting http://export.gov/usoffices.