Exporting guide to Ivory Coast (The Republic of Côte D’Ivoire)

The Ivory Coast (also known as The Republic of Côte D’Ivoire) experienced an average annual growth of over 8% between 2012 and 2019 (World Bank, 2021). It is a growing regional hub and can be the gateway to French-speaking Africa and the rest of the region for exporters.

Strong and vibrant West African economy

The Ivory Coast is the largest economy in the West African Economic and Monetary Union (World Bank 2021). It is the world’s top exporter of cocoa beans, raw cashew nuts and a net exporter of oil. Significant reforms are being implemented to broaden and strengthen the manufacturing sector and attract investment.

An appetite for working with the UK

The Ivory Coast and the UK signed an Economic Partnership Agreement in 2020 with the aim of maintaining and improving trade and economic relationships. Officials and businesses are keen to work with non-traditional business partners. Many who have collaborated with British businesses appreciate the benefits of British expertise, due diligence, technology, and a winning partnership.

Significant growth potential

After slowing down in 2020 due under to the effect of the COVID-19 crisis, the Ivorian economy is projected to bounce back in 2021 and to return to a strong growth trend afterwards (IMF, 2021). An ambitious National Development Plan that focuses on the manufacturing sector, services, and exports will drive the economic turnaround in the next 5 years.

Cocoa pods in the Ivory Coast

Currency

West African CFA franc

Business language

French

You may need a translator

GDP per capita

$2,200

UK is $41,030 (IMF, 2019)

Economic growth

7.4%

(IMF, 2018)

Time zone

GMT +0

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Opportunities for exporters

The Ivory Coast is looking to industrialise and transform its economy to become an emerging country. To achieve this the government has made a number of reforms in various sectors to attract more investment. There are opportunities for UK companies across a broad range of industries. Our trade advisers in Ivory Coast have identified opportunities for UK businesses in the following sectors:

Doing business in Ivory Coast

The Ivory Coast and the UK signed an economic partnership agreement in 2020, which allows to maintain continuity in the trade relationship between both countries following the exit of the UK from the European Union.

Preparing to export

It’s important to familiarise yourself with the tax and customs arrangements in Ivory Coast if you’re exporting there. You’re advised to contact the DIT team in Ivory Coast to help find tax and legal advisers before entering into agreements.

VAT

The value added tax (VAT) rate is 18%. Subject to certain restrictions, VAT is recoverable.

The rate is reduced to 9% for:

  • milk (except yogurt and other dairy products)
  • infants’ milk and homogenised and composite preparation foods for infants
  • luxury rice
  • meat imported outside the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
  • pasta products that contain 100% durum wheat semolina
  • equipment designed for the production of solar energy

Customs duties

Import duties vary per product. 45% will be levied on tobacco products, 50% on cosmetic products

Customs duties rates range from 0% to 35%, depending on the classification of the imported goods according to the customs tariff.

Imported goods are also subject to

  • 1% statistical duty
  • 0.8% community solidarity levy
  • 0.2% African Union import tax
  • 0.5% community levy
  • 18% VAT

Special taxes, depending on the nature of the imported goods, may apply, such as excise duties.

Trade barriers

Check for any reported barriers to trading with the Ivory Coast.

Report any trade barriers that are affecting your business so we can help fix them.

Operating in Ivory Coast

Ivory Coast offers significant opportunities for UK businesses and is a market worth exploring. However, you should ensure you are aware of the challenges and risks involved, and seek legal advice where necessary.

Intellectual property

You’re advised to apply for trademark and patent protection before entering into business in Ivory Coast. Although the Ivorian Civil Code protects intellectual property rights, the protection offered does not meet World Trade Organisation standards.

Setting up a business

The Centre de Promotion des Investissements en Ivory Coast (CEPICI) is the government department that supports investors wishing to work in the Ivory Coast. It’s a one-stop shop for setting up a business in the country and can help in areas such as business registration, managing disputes and public and private investment opportunities.

Unique challenges of the market

Though an attractive market for doing business, the Ivory Coast presents some unique challenges. These include a shortage of skilled workers, corruption and high levels of poverty, resulting in limited purchasing power. UK businesses may also struggle with insufficient and unreliable market data and uncertainty of legal protection due to an inefficient court system.

Next steps

DIT can advise you on doing business abroad, and help put you in touch with other people who can help such as lawyers and distributors.