2. Bilateral Investment Agreements and Taxation Treaties
There is no bilateral investment treaty between Cote d’Ivoire and the United States in force. Cote d’Ivoire has signed Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs) with the following countries and multilateral organizations: Belgium, Luxembourg, Canada, China, the EU, Germany, Ghana, Italy, the Netherlands, Singapore, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, and the United Kingdom. The Ivoirian government ratified the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the EU in September 2016, allowing it to access the European market with no tax. The EPA is scheduled to go into effect in 2019.
Cote d’Ivoire does not have a bilateral taxation treaty with the United States, though Cote d’Ivoire has concluded tax treaties with Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, and Switzerland. For leasing, the depreciation period of the item is now aligned with the period of the contract and not the lifespan of the item for accounting purposes. A special tax incentive for equipment has been adopted to help business development.
Businesses and foreign investors have expressed some concerns about the level of taxation, but there are currently no U.S. firms involved in ongoing systemic tax disputes.
4. Industrial Policies
The 2018 Investment Code offers mixed fiscal incentives combining tax exoneration and tax credits focusing on agriculture, agro-business, tourism, health, and education. These include a full exoneration of customs duties or suspended VAT, and tax exemptions to business operations in some remote areas, with incentives based on the type of investment, phase of operation, local content, and participation. There are also incentives to promote small businesses and entrepreneurship, low-cost housing construction, factories, and infrastructure development, which the government considers key to the country’s economic development. The Investment Code, the Petroleum Code, and the Mining Code delineate incentives available to new investors in Cote d’Ivoire.
The government occasionally guarantees loans or jointly finances foreign direct investment projects. This is not a common practice.
Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation
Created in 2008, the free trade zone for information technology and biotechnology (VITIB) is located in the city of Grand Bassam. In 2014, VITIB inaugurated the Mahatma Gandhi Technology Park at Grand Bassam with a loan of USD 20 million from India’s EXIM bank. Current plans are to develop a technology corridor on VITIB land in Grand Bassam. Bonded warehouses do exist, and bonded zones within factories are allowed. High port costs and maritime freight rates have inhibited the development of in-bond manufacturing or processing, and there are consequently no general foreign trade zones.
Performance and Data Localization Requirements
The government strongly encourages investors and firms to hire Ivoirian employees, but this is not a requirement.
The 2012 Investment Code (Article 14) guarantees the freedom to designate senior management and board members.
Citizens of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) countries can legally work in Cote d’Ivoire. For other nationalities, visa, work, and residence permits are required and the investment agency CEPICI facilitates their acquisition. The process is not onerous and does not inhibit the mobility of foreign investors and their employees.
There are no government-imposed conditions on permission to invest, including tariff and non-tariff barriers.
The government does occasionally place conditions on location, local content, equity ownership, import substitution, export requirements, host country employment, and technology. The Ivoirian government required that Kentucky Fried Chicken franchises, that began operating in April 2018, use locally-sourced chicken. The government also makes use of a number of tax exemptions and customs exonerations to incentivize companies to do more value-added processing in Cote d’Ivoire.
There are no performance requirements for investments.
Cellular telephone companies must meet technology and performance requirements to maintain their licenses. Cote d’Ivoire does not have any known requirements for foreign IT firms to turn over source code or provide access to encryption.
There are no requirements that prevent or unduly impede companies from freely transmitting customer or other business related data. Data transmission or transfer is subject to prior authorization of the telecom regulatory board Autorite de Regulation des Telecommunications (ART-CI).
Cote d’Ivoire’s law on data protection requests prior declaration or authorization by ART-CI for any data processing. ART-CI is responsible for the oversight of local data storage.