South Africa: Doing Business in Cote d'Ivoire

Last Updated: 3 March 1997

Authored by Klein-Goddard Associes, Lex Africa Law Firm in Cote d'Ivoire

  • Type of Government
  • Forms of Business Organisation
  • Formation of a Business
  • Taxation
  • Foreign Investments
  • Regulatory Environment
  • Intellectual Property
  • Tariffs
  • Incentives
  • Membership of International & Regional Organisations


Presidential and multi party system


  • Private or public liability company
  • Close Corporation
  • Mixed corporation
  • External company (ie a branch of a foreign company)
  • Partnership
  • Joint Venture
  • Sole Trader

(This list is not exhaustive)


The CEPICI centralises all administrative and tax formalities.

Business licences may be required for certain activities such as banking, insurance, gold and precious stones exportation and
the sale of specific products like toxic products (pesticides).


The following taxes are payable:

(i)a "tax on Industrial and Commercial benefits" (BIC) is paid by companies, at 35%
(ii)the following taxes have recently been reduced as an incentive to investment:-
  • a "tax on stock and shares incomes" of 6% in respect of debenture loans
  • registration fees of 0,6% or 0,2% on share capital introduced by a partner (financial or real estate investment)
  • a fixed annual franchise tax calculated upon the value of office rent, and the means of production
  • immovable property taxes
  • VAT of 20%
  • a number of other specific taxes and duties including salary taxes
(iii)tax on benefits or on incomes received or realised by non residents in Ivory Coast
(iv)double tax treaties exist with various countries including Belgium, France, Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, Norway, Canada, Benin, Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Mauritius, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal and Togo.


Cote d'Ivoire generally welcomes foreign investments, and almost all business activities are open to foreign investors. Exchange control exists. Cote d'Ivoire belongs to the Franc Zone, and there is no exchange control between the following states:

  • France, Monaco and all the states of the West Africa Economical and Monetary Union (WEAEMU): (Benin, Burkina Faso, Cote d'Ivoire, Equatorial Guinea, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo)
  • members of the Central African Economic and Union (CAEU) (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Chad)

Transfers out of WEAEMU are subject to a transfer tax of 0,25%

Loans by a non Franc Zone resident, to an Ivorian resident, investments by non Franc Zone residents and generally, payments by transfer of funds of any nature to foreign countries, in favour of non residents, are subject to exchange control approval which is usually easily obtained.

Banks are generally authorised to transfer normal and current payments necessary for the execution of limited commercial
operations such as:

  • delivery of merchandise
  • commissions, broking advertising fees
  • insurances and reinsurances
  • transportation fees for merchandise or persons
  • wages and salaries, fees, insurance premiums
  • payments relating to patents, trademarks, licences, copyrights
  • interests, dividends, rent


Except for essential products, there is no restraint on trade.

The Competition Board exists to prevent

  • monopolies and collusive agreements between companies which distort the market
  • certain practices such as discriminatory conditions of selling and of provision of services, sales at a loss

No entity regulates acquisitions and take-overs even where a change of control occurs.

The Abidjan Stock Exchange has regulations governing securities listed on it.


Patents, trademarks, commercial marks, design or patterns are protected by statute. The Ivory Coast is signatory of the African Organisation for Industrial Property (OAPI). Registrations must be made in Yaound‚ (Cameroon) at the OAPI.


Import tariffs, customs duties and direct controls are subject to the Convention between European Union and African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. A common market, the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU) exists with a common external tariff and commercial policy between members rates. The weighted custom average tax has been reduced from 55% to 33%. Ivory Coast is a member of GATT.


A new Investment Code (the "new code") is about to be adopted and is intended to promote investment. Two categories of incentives exist:

  • the "declaration" regime that allows any investment, whatever the sum involved, to be declared eligible within 48 hours, for the advantages provided by the new code
  • the "approval" regime for investments involving sums exceeding 500 million CFA Francs (US$ 25 million)

Under the new Code the following automatically apply to almost all activities:

  • exemption from tax on industrial and commercial or non commercial benefits for a 5 to 8 year period
  • exemption from franchise tax for the same period

The new Code also provides for:

  • exemption from VAT on equipment, materials and first set of spare parts for a 2 billion CFA Francs investment
  • exemption from property tax
  • applying of a unique 45% tax for the equipment when the investment comprises between 500 million and 2 billion CFA Francs (US$ 25 million to US$ 100 million)
  • exemption from immovable property tax when the real estate represents more than 2 billion CFA Francs investment (US$ 100 million)
  • the free transfer out of Ivory Coast of revenues of any nature generated by an investment
  • authorisation of any judicial, arbitral or administrative action that the investor should take for the settlement of disputes arising out of the enforcement of the new Code

In addition to the new Code, other incentives are provided in the General Tax Code, the General Duty Code, the proposed Mine Code (providing for special incentives in the mining field) and conventions between Cote d'Ivoire and other countries.


Cote d'Ivoire is a member of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organisation of African Unity, United Nations
Organisation, African Development Bank.

Legal Disclaimer:

Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice from any lawyer of Werksmans. The article is a general summary of developments or principles of interest, and may not apply directly to any specific circumstance. Professional advice should therefore be sought before action based on any information is taken.

For further information please contact:

Werksmans Attorneys

Werksmans Chambers, 22 Girton Road, Parktown, Johannesburg 2193
P.O. Box 927, Johannesburg 2000 South Africa

Enquiries: Mr Charles Butler
Telephone 27 (011) 488-0000
Telefax 27 (011) 484-3100/3200
E-Mail Address Click Contact Link

Or visit the Werksmans web site, at Click Contact Link

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