Republic of Congo - Market OverviewRepublic of Congo - Market Overview
The Republic of Congo (RoC), also known as Congo-Brazzaville or simply Congo, is a country located in central Africa roughly the size of the state of New Mexico. The RoC is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Angola (Cabinda); RoC also has a 170 km coastline on the Atlantic Ocean.
President Denis Sassou N’Guesso was re-elected for a five year term in 2016 after a referendum on a new Constitution allowed him to reset his term limits. He has been president since 1997 when he re-gained power during the Civil War; he had previously been president from 1979-1991. His party, the Parti Congolais du Travail (PCT), dominates the Parliament.
The economy is heavily dependent on oil. In 2016 the government expected oil to contribute 60% of government revenues. With the fall in prices, the World Bank estimates the number to be closer to 50%. Oil production, which had been declining and is currently around 260,000 barrels per day, is expected to grow to 350,000 barrels in the fourth quarter of 2017 as new offshore fields begin production.
According to the World Bank, GDP growth for 2016 was 3.5%, up from 1.3% estimated for 2015.
The Republic of Congo has a small trade deficit. The World Bank estimates 2016 exports of $3.2 billion, with corresponding imports of $5 billion.
Congo’s biggest trading partners include France, China, the United States, and Italy. China is the biggest exporter of goods to Congo. China and the United States are the biggest importers of Congolese goods, mostly petroleum products. In 2016 the United States exported $131 million to and imported $132 million from the Republic of Congo in goods and services.
The population is estimated at slightly more than 4.6 million. The population is highly urbanized (about 65%), with the largest population centers being the capital city of Brazzaville and the port/commercial center of Pointe-Noire.
Income distribution is extremely unequal, with 42.2% of the population living below the poverty level of $1.25 per day, according to the World Bank.
Unemployment, particularly among youth and women, remains high. Trading Economics and African Economic Outlook report 46.1 % unemployment. According to other sources, unemployment may be as high as 53%.
The Republic of Congo is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (Communauté économique et monétaire de l'Afrique centrale, CEMAC), and the Bank of Central African States (Banque des États de l'Afrique Centrale, BEAC.)
As a CEMAC member, Republic of Congo uses the Central African franc (CFA), which is pegged to the Euro (CFA 656 = 1 Euro).