Republic of the Congo Market Entry

Republic of the Congo Market Entry
Basic data
Capital Brazzaville
Population million
Language French
Religion animists (40%), Catholics (38%), Muslims, others
State system presidential republic
Head of State Denis Sassou-Nguesso
Head of government Anatole Collinet Makosso
Currency name West African Franc (XAF)
Travel
Time shift 0 h (-1 h in summer time)
Economy 2021
Nominal GDP (billion USD) 20.4
Economic growth (%) -1.2
Inflation (%) 2
Unemployment (%) ON

The Republic of the Congo (République du Congo) is a country in Central Africa. It lies on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean and the equator passes through it. It borders Angola, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Gabon. The Republic of Congo, until then a French colony, gained independence in 1960. From 1969 to 1990, a Marxist regime ruled. It was not until the early 1990s that a multi-party system was introduced, and then a new constitution (adopted in 1992) allowed for more transparent electoral procedures and reforms of government institutions. A sparse population, vast natural resources and considerable foreign support have helped make the Congo a relatively prosperous country in sub-Saharan Africa. Check smber for agriculture and fishing facts of Republic of Congo.

Basic conditions for the use of Czech goods on the market

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

The Congolese market is relatively small and the purchasing power of the majority of the population is still low. Despite the still strong French influence and rapidly growing Chinese competition, there is room for Czech goods to be used on the Congolese market. The customer focuses primarily on the price, the quality of the goods comes second – the ever-increasing imports of cheap Chinese goods represent a significant competitive obstacle. In addition to the price of the product, the basic condition for success on the market is a long-term active export strategy focused on this country and, more broadly, the entire CEMAC zone. You cannot wait for a really good contract in the Czech Republic. Czech companies have not yet built up any network of representatives in the Congo who would regularly treat the local market. However, the honorary consul of the Czech Republic, Serges Mpoungui, working in the country, could help in expanding trade relations. Although it is possible to export directly to the Congo, cooperation with a local representative or a company registered in Congo (importer) 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, or it can open a representative office or enter into a “joint venture” with a Congolese partner. The most suitable for the supplier is, of course, to find a reputable partner who would work on his own account and pay for the offered goods himself when they are collected in the Czech Republic. 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. The best market entry strategy is through a local representative. The local conditions are so complicated that it is impossible to establish yourself without long-term experience and contacts. Only the local representative is able to ensure that the goods are not stolen or damaged on the way from the port. The most suitable representatives are foreigners settled in the country – Portuguese, Greeks, French, Indians, Pakistanis. It is also appropriate to use compatriots settled in the country or graduates of Czech universities (for example, an honorary consul of the Czech Republic). The main distribution channels run through the port in Europe to Pointe-Noire. Air traffic goes to Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire airports. Part of the goods reach the KR via the port of Matadi (DRC), Kinshasa and ferries to Brazzaville. In the Congo, daily necessities are mostly sold in small shops, of which there are a large number. Larger shops and supermarkets exist only in large cities. The customer focuses primarily on the price, the quality of the goods comes second – the ever-increasing imports of cheap Chinese goods represent a major competitive obstacle. Goods that need service are better sold through an authorized dealer. Part of the goods reach the KR via the port of Matadi (DRC), Kinshasa and ferries to Brazzaville. In the Congo, daily necessities are mostly sold in small shops, of which there are a large number. Larger shops and supermarkets exist only in large cities. The customer focuses primarily on the price, the quality of the goods comes second – the ever-increasing imports of cheap Chinese goods represent a major competitive obstacle. Goods that need service are better sold through an authorized dealer. Part of the goods reach the KR via the port of Matadi (DRC), Kinshasa and ferries to Brazzaville. In the Congo, daily necessities are mostly sold in small shops, of which there are a large number. Larger shops and supermarkets exist only in large cities. The customer focuses primarily on the price, the quality of the goods comes second – the ever-increasing imports of cheap Chinese goods represent a major competitive obstacle. Goods that need service are better sold through an authorized dealer. the quality of the goods comes second – the ever-increasing imports of cheap Chinese goods represent a major competitive obstacle. Goods that need service are better sold through an authorized dealer. the quality of the goods comes second – the ever-increasing imports of cheap Chinese goods represent a major competitive obstacle. Goods that need service are better sold through an authorized dealer.

The import of goods into the country is technically quite complex, as well as into other countries of the territory. The gateways to the country are the port of Pointe-Noire and the airports of Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire. The customs system is one of the most corrupt in the country – it is best to leave customs to a local partner. There are a number of licensed companies operating in the country that clear customs, the government has introduced the so-called “guichet unique” to speed up the procedure. No duty is applied to products with a CEMAC country.

Import duties from third countries vary depending on the type of imported goods. The Congolese customs tariff (which is based on the CEMAC tariff) distinguishes four basic categories:

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

More information: www.ccc.cg, www.douanes.gouv.cg, www.izf.net

Forms and conditions of operation on the market

On January 1, 1998, an agreement between the 15 African countries of the CFA currency area (and Guinea) called OHADA (Organisation pour l’Harmonisation du Droit des Affaires en Afrique) entered into force, which promotes the development of the African Economic Community, a common commercial policy and guarantees traders and investors legal certainty and compatibility. Congo acceded to the OHADA agreement. Local commercial law (common under the OHADA agreement) allows both domestic and foreign companies to operate, among other things, as “Société a Responsabilité Limitée” (SARL – spol. s ro, minimum capital 1 million XAF) or “Société Anonyme” (minimum capital 10 million XAF). Foreign investors can own all shares in the company, enter into a joint venture or open a branch in the country. Foreign companies registered in the Congo have the same rights under the law as local companies. The same regulations and rules also apply to their registration. A Center de formalités administratives des entreprises was established, which should handle all the formalities associated with company registration. The company is founded at the founding general meeting, the basic capital is deposited into the account on the day of the general meeting, the company also decides on its seat and documents the lease agreement. The establishment of a company is registered with the tax office, the commercial register and the Center de formalités administratives des entreprises. The commencement of activity is notified to the labor office. For this, a notarized founding agreement is required, the foreigner submits proof of residency (copy of passport and visa), extract from the criminal record of the home country and Congo to the statutory body. By appointing a foreigner to a statutory body, the basic condition for processing a residence permit is met (issued on the basis of a partnership agreement). At first glance, this is a simple procedure, but according to the World Bank, Congo ranks among the countries with the worst business environment, and establishing a company takes up to 160 days (Doing Business). Setting up an office is therefore better left to a local representative or lawyer.

Marketing and communication

Media advertising has the greatest effect, especially for goods with a fast turnover. TV advertising, newspapers, radio, magazines, large-scale billboards, the Internet or even mobile phones can be used. Local languages, especially Lingala, are used in advertising alongside French. It is very suitable to participate in local exhibitions, which, however, are more like a fair (without significant specialization or commodity differentiation). However, their effect for the acquisition and promotion of goods is high. Using modern social media is another way of effective promotion.

Issues of intellectual property protection

Rights must be registered locally and enforced under local laws. Congo 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, Congo 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 Convention Establishing the World Intellectual Property Organization. As a WTO member, Congo is a signatory to the TRIPS Agreement. Despite existing treaties, rights in the Congo are widely and often violated, judicial protection is slow and ineffective.

Public procurement market

State contracts are awarded through tenders (appel d’offre). Tenders are issued for supplies of equipment valued at over $100,000 and services over $45,000. Participation in contract tenders requires long-term monitoring of the situation with necessary lobbying of the relevant central authorities and provision of relevant information even before the official announcement of tender conditions. This is practically impossible without constant presence and contacts. However, more important are the contacts at the ministries and especially the presidential office. The one who has the best contacts and can offer good payment terms will prevail. Large infrastructure contracts (financed by the PRC) are awarded directly to Chinese companies without tendering.

Payment terms, payment ethics and resolution of commercial disputes

The Republic of Congo is a member of the International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID). Congo is a member of the WTO and has been a member of the MIGA (Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency) since 1994. As a member of the OHADA (Organisation pour l’Harmonisation des Droits des Affaires en Afrique) agreement, the Congo has adopted a convention that unifies the legal standards of fifteen member countries with foreign countries in the area of ​​trade and investment disputes. Official legal cooperation of the state exists only with selected countries of the region. 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. According to the Investment Law of 2003, commercial disputes should be settled in the Congo, but under the OHADA convention, any dispute can be settled in the court in Abijan, which gives a better chance of success. However, dispute resolution is usually costly and enforcement is difficult and time-consuming. The parties can therefore agree on an independent arbitrator in the contract (either within OHADA or ICSIT). 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). The legal and business environment in the Congo is one of the most difficult in the world and a foreigner is always at a disadvantage. Furthermore, full knowledge of French law, local common law and procedural customs is always required (local legal representative required). The legal and business environment in the Congo is one of the most difficult in the world and a foreigner is always at a disadvantage. Furthermore, full knowledge of French law, local common law and procedural customs is always required (local legal representative required). The legal and business environment in the Congo is one of the most difficult in the world and a foreigner is always at a disadvantage.

Visas, fees, specific conditions for traveling to the territory

Congo 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.

Visas are issued by: Embassy of the Republic of Congo (Ambassade de la République du Congo)

Grabbeallee 47, 13156 Berlin

tel. 004930-4940 0753 fax 004930-4940 0778

e-mail: [email protected]

possibly the Honorary Consulate of the Republic of Congo Petrská nám. 1186/1, 110 00 Prague 1 – Nové Město

phone: 220 809 391 fax: 220 809 394

e-mail: [email protected]

The price of a regular visa is approx. 2500 CZK, processing takes approx. 1 week.

It is possible to travel from the Czech Republic to Congo by air with Air France, South African Airlines, Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airlines and Royal Air Maroc. ASKY connects Brazzaville with other capitals of West and Central African countries. Lines of some neighboring countries (CamairCo, Ceiba, Rwanda Air) fly to Brazzaville. It is recommended to have a pick-up at the airport and an escort by a local partner or acquaintance arranged in advance. The Republic of Congo is a tropical country in which a number of dangerous tropical diseases (e.g. Chikungunya, Dengue) occur. 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 is required at border crossings), jaundice type A and B, typhoid, 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 the Congo 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. 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. 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.

Congo is a stable and relatively safe country, but the problems of neighboring countries are transferred to it. For this reason, travel to the border areas with the Central African Republic is not recommended. As in any country, there is general crime (theft, pickpocketing, occasional armed attacks). General safety rules must be observed, do not move alone at night, avoid public and port districts, mass gatherings, do not carry visibly valuable items, do not show money, lock the car even while driving. Although the political situation in the Congo is stable, the situation can change sharply in the event of the president’s health problems. Before the trip, it is therefore recommended to inform yourself about the current security situation in a specific area, or to inform the ZÚ Abuja about your expected place of stay through the voluntary registration of DROZD. Police officers, often bribed, do not return their documents to detained and released persons, making them their hostages and expecting bribes for the return of their personal documents. It is recommended not to give the original document to anyone and to submit only copies of the document.

Employment of citizens from the Czech Republic

The law requires preferential employment of local citizens, provided they have the same qualifications and work experience, but does not mandate mandatory quotas. But there is a great shortage of professional staff in the Congo. Therefore, foreign (Western) companies routinely use foreign experts (still mainly French) who bring their know-how to the country. To employ foreigners, it is necessary to have a work permit issued by the local labor office (l’Office Nationale de la main d’œuvre) on the basis of a submitted employment contract and a visa authorizing long-term residence (visa d’établissement). The Labor Code of 1975 (modified in 1996) is based on the French model and very strongly protects the rights of employees, including the right to collective bargaining, the method of resolving labor disputes, a 40-hour work week, a minimum wage (90,000 XAF),

Fairs and events

Important fairs and exhibitions in the territory:

  • Foire Internationale et nationale de Pointe-Noire: organized by the Center congolais du Commerce extérieur every year at the end of August – beginning of September
  • Salon international de l’alimentation et de l’industrie agroalimentaire in Brazzaville, organized by the Center Congolais du Commerce extérieur – spring

 

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

There are a number of hospitals in Brazzaville and Pointe Noire (e.g. Clinique Pasteur Brazzaville, 88, Rue Djambala Moungali – Brazzaville, (242) 06 990 63 77, [email protected], Clinique Guenin, Pointe Noire, (242) 05 575 67 73, (242) 22 294 18 86).

A medical service also exists at the Embassy of France in Brazzaville.

In the countryside, however, even an outpatient clinic for providing at least first aid is rarely available. Medical care is paid directly on the spot. Even for minor injuries, a so-called registration fee is required, which sometimes exceeds the price of the treatment itself. Quality travel insurance with the possibility of evacuation to Europe is recommended.

Important web links and contacts

  • www.congo-site.com
  • www.congopage.com
  • www.presidence.cg/accueil/
  • www.starducongo.com
  • www.ifz.net
  • www.beac.int
  • www.cciambrazza.com
  • www.unicongo.org

Republic of the Congo Market Entry