Investment Climate Statements for 2016 - Benin

Executive Summary

Benin held peaceful, democratic presidential elections in March 2016 and transitioned to a new government in April 2016. The government’s newly-defined priorities, on the economic front, include investment in the agriculture sector to improve production capacity, job creation linked to tourism, and ensuring access to water and electricity as means for economic development.

Benin continues its efforts to attract private investment in support of economic growth - a link the Government of Benin (GOB) emphasizes is central to boosting Benin’s development prospects. It has set up an Investment and Exports Promotion Agency (APIEX) that comprises one-stop- business startup, investment promotion center and foreign trade promotion. Benin’s overall macroeconomic conditions were positive in 2015. According to revised estimates by Benin’s National Institute of Economic Analysis and Statistics (INSAE), Benin GDP was up 6.5 percent in 2014, largely driven by the cotton industry, improvements at the Port of Cotonou, and developments in telecommunications. The country’s GDP is roughly 71 percent services, 21 percent agriculture, and 8 percent manufacturing. Cotton production increased to 359,000 metric tons in 2014/2015.

In September 2015, the United States Government and the Government of Benin signed a $375 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) compact focused on electricity. It is Benin’s second MCC compact and will advance policy reforms to bolster financing for the energy sector, attract private capital into power generation, and strengthen regulation and utility management. Infrastructure to be funded by the compact includes 78 megawatts of power generation capacity and modernization of the distribution grid. The compact also includes a significant off-grid electrification project.

Benin’s 2006-2011 MCC compact modernized the country’s port and improved land administration, the justice sector, and access to credit. The Port of Cotonou is the largest component of Benin’s economy with revenues projected to account for more than 40% of Benin’s annual budget. Significant MCC investment in the port helped attract private sector investment; encouraged security and management enhancing reforms; and contributed to increased customs receipts and cargo processing capacity. The GOB is considering granting a concession of the North quay of the Port for its reconstruction, modernization, and its management. If successful, this concession will increase foreign direct investment in Benin. Realizing the port’s full economic potential requires concerted efforts to modernize, stem corruption, and expand access to foreign markets, particularly in Nigeria and landlocked neighboring countries.

Benin’s National Infrastructure Program is the country’s largest planned infrastructure venture in recent history. Envisioned as a series of Public Private Partnerships suitable for foreign investment, the proposed projects include construction of international airports, a new deep water seaport, inland ports, rail networks, and roads supporting major transport routes. At an estimated $2 billion, the Benin-Niger railway is the centerpiece project that calls for the rehabilitation and extension of 1000 km of railway infrastructure from Cotonou to Niamey. These projects have the potential to greatly increase regional trade and significantly boost container traffic at the Port. The tourism sector is growing with the construction of 4 new hotels in Cotonou.

Table 1



Index or Rank

Website Address

TI Corruption Perceptions index


80 of 175

World Bank’s Doing Business Report “Ease of Doing Business”


158 of 189

Global Innovation Index


n/a of 143

U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)


USD Amount

BEA/Host government – n/a

World Bank GNI per capita


USD 890

Millennium Challenge Corporation Country Scorecard

The Millennium Challenge Corporation, a U.S. Government entity charged with delivering development grants to countries that have demonstrated a commitment to reform, produced scorecards for countries with a per capita gross national income (GNI) of $4,125 or less. A list of countries/economies with MCC scorecards and links to those scorecards is available here: Details on each of the MCC’s indicators and a guide to reading the scorecards are available here:

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Attitude toward Foreign Direct Investment

The Government of Benin (GOB) encourages foreign investment. The creation of APIEX in 2015 resulted in a dialogue between the Government and investors to implement reforms and improve Benin's business environment. The APIEX works to reduce, and where possible, eliminate administrative barriers to doing business and attract additional foreign direct investment. The agency has successfully reduced processing times for construction permits and registration of new companies from 90 to 30 and from 15 to 1 day, respectively. The GOB has also created a newly organized commercial section at the Court of First Instance in Cotonou responsible for expedited settlement of business related disputes. The GOB plans to expand the commercial section into a separate commercial court in Cotonou. The full-service office that expedites customs clearances, reduces the cost of clearances, and minimizes processing barriers to clearing cargo at the Port of Cotonou makes it possible to obtain cargo clearance within 48 hours of the date of its off-loading at the Port of Cotonou.

Beninese law guarantees the right to own and transfer private property. The court system enforces contracts, but the judicial process is routinely slow and enforcement of rulings is problematic. Most firms entering the market work with an established local partner and retain a competent Beninese attorney. A list of English-speaking lawyers and legal counselors is available from the Embassy's commercial section and on the Embassy's website

Other Investment Policy Reviews

In 2015 the GOB conducted an investment policy review through the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). The GOB cooperates with World Bank Group for the annual World Bank Group Doing Business Review ( The 2016 Benin rank is 185th, .

Laws/Regulations on Foreign Direct Investment

In April 2016, the Government of Benin announced plans to promote judicial sector reforms which would limit executive influence. Benin's 2008 Investment Code creates Free Trade Zones and establishes incentives such as tax reductions for investors. Depending on the size of the investment, investors may benefit from reduced tax liability on profits, exported finished products, or imported industrial equipment for up to one year from the date of business registration. Investors must meet several criteria including employing a minimum number of Beninese nationals, safeguarding the environment, and meeting nationally accepted accounting standards. The Investment Control Commission monitors companies that receive these incentives to ensure compliance. The GOB has also enacted a framework law to promote Public Private Partnership.


  • (FDI investment reforms)
  • (E-registration)
  • (GoB website)
  • (Ministry of Economy and Finance Website)

Business Registration

The Benin eRegulation website addresses business registration procedures and contains required documents for the creation of business. It normally takes 24 hours to register a business and does not require a notary’s assistance. APIEX serves as the single investment promotion center between the foreign investor and the administration.

Benin defines:

  • Micro-enterprises as having less than 5 employees;
  • Small and medium size enterprise (SMEs) as having between 5and 99 employees. SMEs may be a subsidiary of an international firm;


Industrial Promotion

The GOB aims to attract investment in the following sectors:

Agribusiness: Benin produces over 400,000 metric tons of pineapples that meet international standards. Pineapple processing offers a variety of products such as juice, jam, and dried pineapples that are exportable to sub-regional countries and other markets. Other tropical fruits are also available for processing. Creation of fruit processing units offers new business opportunities in the country. Benin is ranked 5th in cashew production and exports only 3% of this product to the international market.

Energy and Mining: Resources such as iron, phosphate, diamond, kaolin, marble, and gravels offer mining and export opportunities. Recent GOB-funded studies promote exploration opportunities in untapped oil fields, which are additional opportunities for business investment. Benin is also in need of stable electricity supplies to sustain growth. The GOB encourages private investment in this sector.

Other sectors for investments include agricultural, construction, building, automotive and ground transportation, food processing and packaging, information and communications, finance, and travel.

Additional information can be found at

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

Benin does not limit foreign ownership or control. The GOB encourages and seeks to incentive joint venture partnerships.

Beninese law and authorities respect the right to private ownership and investment. Beninese law guarantees freedom of commerce; choice of customers and suppliers; free movement throughout the country; the right of foreign employees and their family members to leave the country; and freedom from government interference in the management of private enterprises.

Privatization Program

The GOB has elected to support targeted divestiture programs over total privatization of State-Owned Enterprises. GOB divestitures of the cotton and wood sectors faced management challenges. State-owned Telecommunications Company, Benin Telecom SA and its affiliate cell phone provider – Libercom – are targeted for divestiture.

Foreign investors may participate in privatization programs. In March 2015, the governments of Benin and Niger jointly signed a document that would repeal the legal existence of the Benin-Niger Railway Organization (OCBN) parastatal and assign its concession to foreign private investors.

The government procurement process is specified in accordance with the Beninese procurement code (Code des Marchés Publiques: Tenders from the central government are announced in major publications, newspapers, and posted on the website of the Ministry of Finance and Economy at Published tenders often include local investor participation requirements.

Beninese procurement law allows for open and closed bid processes. Contracts are often awarded based on government solicitations to short-listed companies with industry-specific expertise often identified during commercial activities conducted in overseas markets. The public procurement process is not always deemed non-discriminatory. Foreign companies have expressed concerns about unfair treatment, biased consideration, and improper practices specific to the process of selecting companies.

Screening of FDI

The GOB does not screen FDI.

Competition Law

The Public Procurement Monitoring Authority (Autorité de Régulation des Marchés Publics) reviews transactions for competition-related concerns. The website is

2. Conversion and Transfer Policies

Foreign Exchange

Benin is a member of the West African Economic and Monetary Union (WAEMU). Benin's currency is the CFA Franc, issued by the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO). The CFA Franc is fixed to the Euro at CFA 655.957/Euro. The currency exchange rate as of March 31 is approximately CFA Franc 580/USD.

Remittance Policies

Foreign exchange is readily available. There are no restrictions on the remittance of profits by companies that invest in Benin. Remittance of profits by individual resident investors is not restricted.

Benin is a member of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), a FATF-style regional body. Its most recent mutual evaluation can be found at: . Additional information is available at

3. Expropriation and Compensation

Based on a 1992 privatization law, the Government is forbidden from nationalizing private enterprises operating in Benin.

In conformity with World Bank structural reform commitments, the Government opened the cotton sector and its related components (namely ginning and inputs) to the private sector in the 1990s and in 2008 partially divested the ginning industry parastatal SONAPRA (Société Nationale pour la Promotion Agricole) while maintaining regulatory control over the sector. In October 2012, prompted by concerns over performance and mismanagement the Government assumed control of cotton production and ginning holdings.

In 2006, the Government took over the management of previously privatized oil company SONACOP on the grounds that the company was in financial disarray, lacked funds for its operations, and was unable to supply gas stations throughout the country.

4. Dispute Settlement

Legal System, Specialized Courts, Judicial Independence, Judgments of Foreign Courts

Benin is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of African Business Law, known by its French acronym OHADA, and has adopted OHADA's Universal Commercial Code (codified law) to manage commercial disputes and bankruptcies. Benin is also a member of OHADA's Common Court of Justice and Arbitration and the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

A newly-organized commercial section at the Court of First Instance in Cotonou responsible for expedited settlement of business-related disputes has been created to address a backlog of civil cases.

Benin's courts enforce foreign court judgments.


OHADA provisions govern bankruptcy. Debtors may file for reorganization only and the creditor may file for liquidation only.

Benin’s score of 115 on the 2015 World Bank Group Doing Business report’s ‘Resolving Insolvency” category is a downgrade from the 2014 score of 112.

Investment Disputes

Post has no reports of GOB interference in judicial handling of investment disputes. Of three known investment disputes between US investors and the GOB, two were resolved in favor of the U.S. investors and one is still pending. In 2015, Benin’s civil society challenged a contract awarded in the communication sector and the award decision was reversed.

International Arbitration

Benin is a signatory to investment agreements subject to binding international arbitration of investment disputes. Local courts enforce international arbitration. The OHADA arbitration court based in Abidjan, Cote d’Ivoire serves as the domestic arbitration body.

ICSID Convention and New York Convention

Benin is a member of the International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID).

Duration of Dispute Resolution – Local Courts

The judicial process and dispute resolution is routinely protracted and slow.

5. Performance Requirements and Investment Incentives


Benin has not notified the WTO of any measures that are not consistent with its Trade Related Investment Measures (TRIMS) commitments.

Investment Incentives

Benin's 2008 Investment Code creates Free Trade Zones and establishes incentives such as tax reductions for investors. Depending on the size of the investment, investors may benefit from reduced tax liability on profits, exported finished products, or imported industrial equipment for up to one year from the date of business registration. Investors must meet several criteria including employing a minimum number of Beninese nationals, safeguarding the environment, and meeting nationally accepted accounting standards. The Investment Control Commission monitors companies that receive these incentives to ensure compliance.

Research and Development

There are no restrictions regarding the participation of U.S. and foreign firms in GOB research and development programs.

Performance Requirements

According to Benin’s 2008 Investment Code, investors must meet criteria including employment of a minimum number of Beninese national in order to qualify for tax reductions and other incentives.

Data Storage

The Benin Post and Communications Regulatory Authority, ARCEP, ensures the confidentiality of the content of all communications by the service provider or operator, whether information or data the service provider can obtain thanks to the services offered. No information be disclosed without the written consent of ARCEP or signed order of the competent judicial authority.

Additional information may be found on .

6. Protection of Property Rights

Real Property

The Benin Land Property Act enacted on August 24, 2013 codifies real property rights. The Land Act is designed to ensure fair access to land for purchasers; protect ownership rights; establish a transparent legal procedure for obtaining ownership; reduce property speculation in urban and rural areas; and encourage land development.

Secured interests in real and personal property are recognized and enforced. Benin's legal system protects and facilitates acquisition and disposition of property, land and buildings and mortgages. Secured interests in property are registered with the Land Office of the Ministry of Finance.

Intellectual Property Rights

Benin is a signatory to both World Intellectual Property Organization Internet treaties. Enforcement of intellectual property rights continues to be constrained by Benin’s limited capacity.

For additional information about treaty obligations and points of contact at local IP offices, please see WIPO’s country profiles at

Resources for Rights Holders

Political-Economic Officer
229 21 300 650

A list of lawyers is available at:

7. Transparency of the Regulatory System

Benin is a member of UNCTAD’s international network of transparent investment procedures Foreign and national investors can find detailed information on administrative procedures applicable to investment and income generating operations including the number of steps, name and contact details of the entities and persons in charge of procedures, required documents and conditions, costs, processing time and legal bases justifying the procedures. There is no rule to prevent a monopoly over a particular business sector.

8. Efficient Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

Government policy supports free financial markets, subject to oversight by the Ministry of Finance and Economy and the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO). A minimum of ten commercial banks operate in Benin. Foreign investors may seek credit from Benin's private financial institutions and the WAEMU stock exchange.

There are not any restrictions for foreign investors to establish a bank account in Benin. However, proof of residency or evidence of company registration is required to open a business bank account.

Money and Banking System, Hostile Takeovers

Benin has a reliable banking sector. Eleven private commercial banks operate in Benin in addition the country’s regional central bank - BCEAO.

9. Competition from State-Owned Enterprises

With the exception of public utilities (including electricity and water) and land-line telephone service for which the public telephone company retains a monopoly, many private enterprises compete with public enterprises on equal terms and conditions.

SOE senior management may report directly to a government ministry or board of directors, whose seats are allocated to senior government officials and political leaders, as well as representatives of civil society and other parastatal constituencies. SOEs are required by law to publish annual reports and hold regular meetings of their boards of directors. Financial statements of SOEs are reviewed by certified accountants and private auditors.

The Government of Benin has established a website detailing plans to promote good governance and transparency particularly among SOEs. (

SOEs are subject to the same tax policies as the private sector.

OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance of SOEs

Benin does not adhere to the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance for SOEs. Rather, SOEs are established pursuant to presidential decrees which define SOE attributions. The GOB appoints senior management and members of the Board of Directors. However, the courts independently process disputes between SOEs and private companies or organizations without the GOB interference.

Sovereign Wealth Funds


10. Responsible Business Conduct

In general government policies and public tenders are made public online and the newspapers. Anti-corruption, human rights, environmental protection and consumers NGOs and activists are active in Benin and report misconduct and violations of good governance practices. There are also government-funded agencies in charge monitoring business conduct. They include the Post and Communication Regulation Agency, Anti-Money Laundering Agency, the National Commission on Systems and Freedom, and the National Anti-Corruption Authority (ANLC).

11. Political Violence

There has been no political violence affecting private investment in Benin since the end of the country’s socialist period in 1990. The country held a peaceful political transition on April 2016.

12. Corruption

The Government has demonstrated political will to reduce corruption and has imposed administrative sanctions and removals from office against high-profile, allegedly corrupt officials. None, however, have faced prosecution in Beninese courts. Corruption remains a problem in areas including public administration, government procurement, and judiciary.

Bribery is illegal and subject to up to ten years imprisonment. Private companies establish their own code of conduct to avoid conflict of interest in line with the country laws. The Government has identified the fight against corruption as a national priority. Efforts reflecting Government focus on fighting corruption include the 2013 creation of the new National Anti-Corruption Authority (ANLC) in charge of referring corruption cases to court. By law, the ANLC has the ability to combat money laundering, electoral fraud, economic fraud, and corruption in the public and private sectors. Benin's State Audit Office is also responsible for identifying and acting against corruption in the public sector.

UN Anticorruption Convention, OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery

Benin is signatory of UN Anticorruption Convention and OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions.

ANLC Contact:
Guy Ogoubiyi
President of ANLC
Tel. +229 21 308 686
Fax: +229 21 301 010

NGO contact:

Gustave Assah
Country Resident
Social Watch
BP 02 BP 937
Phone :229 21042012
Mobile : 229 95961644
Site web:

13. Bilateral Investment Agreements

Bilateral Taxation Treaties

Benin has bilateral investment agreements with the United States, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Portugal, Canada, Guinea-Conakry, Ghana, Mauritius, Chad, Mali, Burkina Faso, the Netherlands, and China.

Benin does not have a bilateral taxation treaty with the United States.

Benin is listed as a member country to International Investment Agreements with ECOWAS, the African Union, and the West African Economic and Monetary Union. See UNCTAD’s database for this information at

14. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) offers financial underwriting for companies wishing to invest in Benin.

15. Labor

The Government adheres to internationally recognized rights and labor standards. Benin's Constitution guarantees workers freedom to organize, assemble, and strike. Government authorities may declare strikes illegal if they are deemed a threat to public order or the economy and may require those on strike to maintain minimum services. Approximately 75 percent of salaried employees belong to unions. There are several union confederations. Unions are obliged to operate independent of government and political parties. Benin's labor code is favorable to employees. Most of Benin’s working population is engaged in agriculture or other primary-sector activities. The unemployment rate in Benin in 2012 was 14.3%. Unskilled and skilled labor and qualified professionals are generally available. The standard legal work is 40 hours and payment of overtime is allowed.

Directorate of labor and civil court deal with labor dispute resolution and collective bargaining is common in line with the labor law.

To further attract investors, the GOB has, in compliance with the ILO, allowed payment of lay off compensation ranging between 3 and 12 months’ salary, for permanent employment contracts. A short term employment contract may not exceed two years and may be renewed twice.

16. Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

There is a Foreign Trade Zone near the Benin-Nigeria border. Foreign-owned firms have the same investment opportunities as host country entities. Companies must export at least 65 percent of their annual production to qualify for tax-free status and benefit from duty-free importation of equipment and other production inputs.

17. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy


Host Country Statistical source

USG or international statistical source

USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other

Economic Data






Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ($M USD)





Foreign Direct Investment

Host Country Statistical source

USG or international statistical source

USG or international Source of data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other

U.S. FDI in partner country ($M USD, stock positions)





Host country’s FDI in the United States ($M USD, stock positions)





Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP







Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Direct Investment from/in Counterpart Economy Data

From Top Five Sources/To Top Five Destinations (US Dollars, Millions)

Inward Direct Investment

Outward Direct Investment

Total Inward



Total Outward


















Republic of Congo



Ivory Coast









United States



"0" reflects amounts rounded to +/- USD 500,000.

Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Portfolio Investment Assets

Top Five Partners (Millions, US Dollars)


Equity Securities

Total Debt Securities

All Countries



All Countries



All Countries



Country not listed on CPIS site









Figures from CDIS securities site












Virgin Islands, British









Ivory Coast















18. Contact for More Information

Pol/Econ Officer
US Embassy Cotonou
Boulevard de la Marina, Cotonou
TELEPHONE NUMBER: +229-21-300-650