Gabon Market Entry

Gabon Market Entry

Subchapters:

  • Market entry
  • Forms and conditions of operation on the market
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Issues of intellectual property protection
  • Public procurement market
  • Payment terms, payment ethics and resolution of commercial disputes
  • Visas, fees, specific conditions of travel to the territory
  • Employment of citizens from the Czech Republic
  • Fairs and events

Market entry

You cannot wait for a really good contract in the Czech Republic. Czech companies have not yet built up any network of representatives in Gabon who would regularly treat the local market, but Czech companies operating in the country could help in expanding business relations. Although it is possible to export directly to Gabon, cooperation with a local representative or a company (importer) registered in Gabon is a competitive advantage. Even these people need to be actively sought out, preferably personally on the spot. Companies that have a French-speaking contact person or direct representation in the country have a competitive advantage. Due to the complexity of the local business environment, it is of the utmost importance to negotiate all aspects of the business agreement in detail (preferably with the help of local legal counsel). Before concluding the contract, the partner must be carefully checked by a specialized company (due diligence). One of the basic conditions is the mastery of French in business relations. A foreign company can sell its goods directly, through an agent or distributor, it can open a representative office or enter into a “joint venture” with a Gabonese partner. The most suitable for the supplier (but at the same time the least likely) is, of course, finding a creditworthy partner who would work on his own account and pay for the offered goods himself when they are collected in the Czech Republic. However, the most common way of distributing goods is manufacturer-importer-wholesale-retail-customer. If the company doesn’t want/can’t export directly, a reputable and reliable importer/distributor/agent is the key person – you need to maintain personal and direct relationships with them as often as possible.

According to cheeroutdoor.com, the Czech exporter (importer of goods to Gabon) especially needs invoices (Commercial Invoice), in four copies, if possible in French or another world language, but with a French translation and a description of the goods attached. All invoices must include the names of the supplier and recipient of the goods, the name of the goods, the unit and total price and the quantity details. Unit price and total price must be quoted in cif parity, with specified gross and net weight and terms of sale. Bill of Landing or Air Waybill, Packing List and Certificate of Origin (issued by the official Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the country of origin) are also required. Import duty is calculated from CIF. In addition to customs fees (and customs fees themselves), another special fee is very often required, often, the duty is assessed not on the basis of the invoiced price, but on the estimate of the domestic “market” price by the customs official. Virtually all product categories can be imported into Gabon, except for sugar and eggs. Gabon also resists excessive imports of soap, cooking oils and flour. The import of cars older than 3 years is also prohibited. An import permit and a health certificate are required for the import of food and medicine. Equipment for the oil, mining industry and tourism can be imported duty-free on the basis of a so-called temporary release (it is issued for up to 10 years). No duty is applied to products with a CEMAC country. Import duties from third countries vary depending on the type of imported goods.

The Gabonese customs tariff distinguishes four basic categories: • basic products (medicines, vaccines, medical equipment, rice and wheat) – the rate is 5% • raw materials for the industrial sector – the rate is 10% • semi-finished products (especially most imported food products) – the tariff rate is 20% • common consumer goods (alcoholic beverages, perfumes, electronics, etc.) – 30% rate.

In addition, a so-called processing fee of 2 – 80% of CIF is paid, a special increased tax applies to the import of beer (12%), wine (2 2%), mineral waters, sparkling wine and spirits (32%) and cigarettes (28 %), Gabon also prevents excessive imports of soap, table oils and flour with increased tariffs. The import of weapons is subject to the permission of the Ministry of the Interior. More information about the customs tariff of CEMAC countries.

Imported food products must be marked with the expiry date of the product, the description of the product on the packaging should be in French, but this is not required by law. Imported goods should meet European (French) standards, Gabon does not yet have any norms and standards agency. There is currently no export tax on the export of goods, although the government has tried to introduce one in the recent past. Due to a very negative response from the oil and logging sectors, the government dropped the tax. The export of logs and unprocessed wood is prohibited. The certificate of origin for goods exported from Gabon is issued for exporters by the Chamber of Commerce CCAIMG (Chambre de Commerce, d’Agriculture, d’Industrie et des Mines du Gabon). There are no specific import restrictions or bans in force in Gabon. It is forbidden to import pornography, drugs, narcotics and unauthorized medicines. The import of live animals is only possible with an international or national vaccination card and with a complete vaccination. The protective measures for importing sugar, eggs and mining equipment components into Gabon have already been described above.

Forms and conditions of operation on the market

On January 1, 1998, an agreement between the African countries of the CFA currency zone, called OHADA (Organisation pour l´Harmonisation du Droit des Affaires en Afrique), came into force, which promotes the development of the African economic community, a common trade policy and guarantees traders and investors legal certainty and compatibility. Gabon has acceded to the OHADA agreement and the commercial law here does not differ from the European one, with exceptions. Gabonese commercial law allows both domestic and foreign companies to operate, among other things, as s.r.o. or as. Foreign investors can own all shares in the company, only certain basic and different minimum capital requirements apply. Foreign companies registered in Gabon have the same rights under the law as local companies. The same regulations and rules also apply to their registration. The Gabonese government has established the Agency for the Promotion of Investments and Exports (Agence de Promotion des Investissements et des Exportations) and the CDE (Centre de Développment des Entreprises), where all the formalities associated with the establishment of a company can be handled (guichet unique). The rules for setting up an office are codified in the Commercial Code and implementing regulations. In order to establish a company, it is necessary to carry out similar procedures as in the Czech Republic and submit similar documents, and the articles of association must then have the same or very similar requirements as in the Czech Republic.

Steps in setting up a company: • permit from the Gabonese Ministry of Commerce • entry in the commercial register at this ministry • allocation of a fiscal statistical number from the tax office • business (trade) license from the municipal authorities • register with the Caisse Nationale de Securité Sociale • publish the registration in official gazette.

To open a branch of a foreign company whose main office is registered outside the territory of the Republic of Gabon, it is necessary to: • fill out an application for authorization of the company at the Ministry of Trade, indicating the cooperating (partner) Gabonese company. Authorization from the Ministry of Commerce is necessary. • register the company with the Tax Office • register with the Caisse Nationale de Securité Sociale The above documents must be processed with the participation of an official of the Commercial Court, as he must certify the documents on the registration of the parent company abroad, write the minutes of the meeting of the board of directors of the new branch in Gabon, the minutes of the general meeting, certify a copy of the partnership agreement with the selected domestic company and certify two copies of the application for consent to operate the relevant business from the local court. In addition, the applicant must submit two photographs and a copy of the passport of the CEO of the new Gabonese branch. The entire process of registering a new company takes about three months in Gabon.

Marketing and communication

Advertising banners are widely used. Advertising in the mass media has the greatest effect. Gabonese people get information by reading the press (60%), listening to the radio (75%) and watching TV (40%). In the field of offers and sales of common consumer and engineering commodities, the biggest burden of acquisition activity rests on the local representative. Personal contact with customers or institutions is the most important. Of course, other paths must be chosen in the field of supply of investment units, possibly supplies for state authorities. Here, direct contacts with state administrative bodies and relevant ministries have had the greatest effect so far. It is very convenient (especially for locally established companies) to participate in exhibitions – in Gabon, international trade fair events (mostly sectoral, focused on the oil industry, agriculture) are regularly held. Although these exhibitions have only local significance, but they can have a big impact for the promotion of imported goods. Advertising on Instagram and other social media is becoming more and more popular.

Issues of intellectual property protection

In Gabon, the Ministry of Commerce is responsible for patent management and the protection of copyright, trademarks and brands. Rights must be registered locally and enforced under local laws. Gabon has adopted laws promulgated by the African Intellectual Property Office (OAPI, based in Yaoundé), which aims, among other things, to protect patents. As a member of the OAPI, Gabon has accepted a number of obligations arising from international treaties for the protection of patents, intellectual property, including the Paris and Berne Agreements and the agreement establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization. As a WTO member, Gabon is a signatory to the TRIPS Agreement. Despite participation in these international conventions, little has yet been done to stop the sale of pirated music recordings, videotapes, CDs, etc.

Public procurement market

Public contracts (tenders) are published in the local press well in advance. This is the usual form of announcing these orders. Tenders are also associated with the payment of a non-refundable entry fee. The interested party must also be registered in advance with the state office that announces the tender. Contracts financed by one of the international organizations are published well in advance, but rather in foreign sources. However, it would be naive to believe that it is possible to enter a competition for larger tenders in Gabon without preparation and survey of the terrain, knowledge of local competition and conditions (connections). Participation in contract tenders requires long-term monitoring of the situation with the necessary preliminary lobbying at the relevant central authorities and securing relevant information (and finances in the state budget) even before the official announcement of tender conditions. This is practically impossible without a permanent presence on the local market. From a technical point of view alone, competitions are very often “tailored” to the expected winner (i.e. the strongest competitor).

Payment terms, payment ethics and resolution of commercial disputes

Gabon is a member of the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and the 1958 New York Convention, but has not incorporated the obligations arising from participation in these treaties into national law. Gabon is a member of the WTO and has been a member of the MIGA agency since 1994. In 1995, Gabon also signed a convention, prepared by the OHADA organization, which harmonizes the legal norms of its member countries with foreign countries in the area of ​​resolving trade and investment disputes. Investment disputes are settled by Gabonese courts, usually with the participation of a representative of the government. The wording of the concluded contract is of fundamental importance in the resolution of commercial disputes, where the method of dispute resolution should be directly enshrined. Disputes are settled in court or through arbitrators, locally or internationally. Gabonese commercial law allows for arbitration between legally existing public institutions and other commercial entities. This commercial law mainly applies principles taken from French law and also includes bankruptcy laws. However, dispute resolution in Gabon is also usually associated with high costs and enforcement of the law is more difficult and time-consuming. An agreement or commercial out-of-court settlement is always preferable. A foreigner will always be at a disadvantage against a local entity. Furthermore, full knowledge of French law, local common law and procedural customs is always required (local legal representative required). Any dispute can be settled in the Abidjan court within the framework of the OHADA convention, which gives a better chance of success.

Visas, fees, specific conditions for traveling to the territory

Gabon is one of the countries with which the Czech Republic has established a visa regime. The visa must be obtained before the trip. In addition to the visa, a yellow fever vaccination certificate is required upon entry into the country. As part of the fight against child smuggling, the Gabonese customs authorities also require evidence of the relationship of fellow travelers to these children in the event of arrival (departure) with children. If it is not your own child, a legalized authorization from the child’s parents or legal representative is required.

For the Czech Republic, in practice, the Office of the Gabonese Office in Berlin is responsible

Hohensteiner Strasse 16,

14197 Berlin

Email: [email protected]

Web: www.botschaft-gabun.de

Phone: 0049 30 89 73 34 40

Addresses of other ZUs of Gabon in Europe:

26 Bis Avenue Raphael, 751 16 Paris

phone: 0142247960 fax 0142246242

Av. Winston Churchill, 112, 1180 Brussels

phone: 2-3406210 fax 2-3464669

It is possible to travel from the Czech Republic to Gabon by Air France (via Paris), Lufthansa (via Frankfurt) or Turkish Airlines. Ethiopian Airlines and Royal Air Maroc also land in Libreville. It is recommended to have a pick-up at the airport and an escort by a local partner or acquaintance arranged in advance. Gabon is a tropical country with a number of dangerous tropical diseases (eg Chikungunya, Dengue.). Before traveling to the sub-Saharan African countries of the region, every traveler should therefore visit a specialist doctor – a specialist in tropical diseases (in Prague, for example, the Clinic of Geographical Medicine of the Vinohrady Royal Hospital or the Center for Travel Medicine), where all mandatory and recommended vaccinations can be completed – against yellow fever ( mandatory, confirmation may be required at the airport), jaundice type A and B, typhoid fever, meningitis, cholera and tetanus. It is recommended to have antibodies against TB and polio checked before the trip and, if necessary, supplement these vaccinations as well. There is no vaccination against a very serious mosquito-borne tropical disease – malaria. For short-term stays, preliminary antimalarial prophylaxis is recommended, while individual derivatives develop resistance in the territory over time. Therefore, the type of antimalarial used must be consulted with a specialist in tropical diseases before departure. When the slightest symptoms of any disease (flu, angina, headaches, feelings of fatigue) appear, it is necessary to visit the nearest laboratory or hospital and have a malaria test done. This is very simple (taking a blood sample from the pad of the finger on the hand) and fast – it takes about 15 minutes, including blood analysis. Medicines for ongoing malaria are freely available in Cameroon and are effective – the disease subsides within two to three days. It is essential not to let the disease develop (the incubation period of malaria is about a week) – then it can have fatal consequences. It can also be recommended that the traveler buys one pack of local antimalarial drugs in the destination country and takes it back to the Czech Republic with him. Due to the incubation period, malaria can manifest itself only after returning to the homeland, and its occurrence and thus its treatment could cause problems in the Czech Republic. According to the data of French doctors from Gabon, the local malarial Plasmodia falciparum transmitted by Anopheles mosquitoes is resistant to chloroquine-type antimalarials. We recommend that you thoroughly inform yourself about the current situation before your trip at one of the travel medicine centers in the Czech Republic. Gabon is a stable and relatively safe country. However, as in any country, there is general crime (theft, pickpocketing, occasional attacks on restaurants and offices of foreign owners). General safety rules must be observed, do not move alone at night, avoid crowded areas, mass gatherings, do not carry visibly valuable items, do not show money, lock the car even while driving. It is better to show legalized copies of documents to controls. We recommend travelers to voluntarily register in the Drozd system.

Employment of citizens from the Czech Republic

Large Gabonese commercial and industrial companies routinely use foreign experts (still mainly French, but the number of specialists from the USA is growing greatly), who usually bring their know-how to the country for joint ventures. Home managements of large enterprises are usually not very successful. In Gabon, there is a law limiting the number of foreign experts in a company to 10%. Although this law is not strictly observed (especially by Chinese companies), the pressure of trade unions to limit foreign labor is great. In order to employ foreigners, companies registered in Gabon must first obtain an employment limit for foreign nationals from the Ministry of Labor, on the basis of which they can apply for a work permit for their employees (issued by the labor office or the Ministry of Labor and Employment). The Ministry of Foreign Affairs then arranges for foreigners to obtain a work visa at the Gabon embassy in their country (the nearest country). Citizens of the member countries of the CEMAC group do not need to have a residence permit in the Republic of Gabon. In Gabon, an exit visa is reportedly required for employees of foreign companies. Local forces are widely used by all joint-venture companies, embassies and commercial agencies. The local Gabonese forces are better educated on average compared to most of the surrounding countries, but also quite expensive. The advantage is that the number of university-educated people in Gabon is also higher than in the surrounding area. The Labor Code is based on the French model and very strongly protects the rights of Gabonese employees. Unions are very influential, strong and active. Employment is regulated by the Labor Code of 1992. enacted the minimum wage (150,000 FCFA), collective bargaining, regulates the resolution of labor disputes, the employment of women and other requirements known from Europe. Employment issues are resolved at tripartite meetings.

Fairs and events

In Gabon, irregular international fair events (mostly sectoral, focused on the oil industry, agriculture) are held only in Libreville. It is usually only attended by locally established companies, they are only of local importance, but they can have a big impact on the promotion of imported goods.

 

Practical telephone numbers (emergency services, police, firemen, information lines, etc.)

There are good quality private French clinics operating in Libreville. In the countryside, however, even an outpatient clinic for providing at least first aid is rarely available. It is necessary to pay for medical care in cash, it is necessary to take out good insurance before the trip for a stay in this country, including the possibility of evacuation to the Czech Republic.

  • Police: 177, +24176 33 29, 72 00 37, 72 00 39
  • Firefighters: 18
  • SOS Medecins: 74 74 74, 74 08 88
  • El Rapha polyclinic in Libreville: 44 70 00, 20 01 03, 07 98 66 60
  • Chambrier Clinic in Libreville: 72 93 02
  • Military Hospital in Libreville: 72 02 37, 72 02 38, 79 36 88
  • Jean Ebori Hospital: 73 20 12

Important web links and contacts

  • www.eiu.com • www.finances.gouv.ga • www.presidentalibongo.com • www.gouvernement.ga • www.cemac.int/ • www.gaboneco.com • www.legabon.org • http:// fr.infosgabon.com • www.agpgabon.ga • www.lepratiquedugabon.com

Gabon Market Entry