Equatorial Guinea Trade and Foreign Investment

By | July 23, 2022

Trade balance for the last 5 years – exports, imports, balance

millions of USD 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
exp FOB 12,522 7,410 5,064 6,118 on
imp FOB -6,541 3,953 3,030 2,577 on
both balance sheets 6,071 -3,457 -2,034 -3,541 on


Territorial structure – position in (k) EU

The largest importers of goods from Equatorial Guinea in 2017 were Spain 20.5%, China 19.4%, USA 13%, Ivory Coast 6.2% and the Netherlands 4.7%.
The largest exporters to Equatorial Guinea in 2017 were China 28%, India 11.8%, South Korea 10.3%, Portugal 8.7%, USA 6.9% and Spain 4.9%.
In 2017, the European Union (EU28) imported goods worth billion euros and exported goods worth 0.3 billion euros.

  • Allcountrylist: Overview of major industries in Equatorial Guinea, including mining, construction, transportation, tourism, and foreign trade.

In 2018, the largest importers of goods were the EU 28 (42.6%), China 13.8%, the USA 12.3%, Singapore 8.0% and Gabon 4.4%.
The largest exporters to Equatorial Guinea in 2018 were China 31.0%, EU 28 (23.3%), Singapore 10.7%, India 8.7% and USA 7.2%.
The European Union (EU28) had a negative trade balance with Equatorial Guinea in 2018, importing goods worth billion euros and exporting goods worth 0.4 billion euros.

Source: trade.ec.europa.eu

Commodity structure

Exports from Equatorial Guinea are clearly dominated by oil (over 90% of exports), followed by methanol, wood and cocoa.

The largest import items are engineering equipment and technology for the oil extraction and processing sector, construction materials and means of transport.

Free trade zones (VT parks, investment zones)

In Equatorial Guinea there is one free trade zone (K5 in Malabo) and one free port (Luba about 50 km from the capital Malabo on the west coast of Bioko Island). Permits for companies to operate in this port are issued by the government. Companies operating here do not pay personal income tax, import duties, corporate tax or VAT.

Investments – foreign direct investments in the territory (sectoral and territorial structure)

Investments are directed mainly to the exploration and extraction of hydrocarbons, the largest investors are American companies, followed by the PRC, France, Spain and Morocco.

Investments – conditions for entry of foreign capital (restrictions, incentives for investors)

The government is aware of the importance of foreign investment and formally attracts foreign investors especially in those sectors on which the Horizon 2020 strategy is based (reconstruction and construction of infrastructure (including energy), tourism and services, wood processing, exploration and extraction of mineral deposits, agriculture and food industry), fishing). It has established a fund to support investments in the amount of almost 1 billion USD. Property rights are formally protected in Equatorial Guinea by law, which guarantees protection to all subjects, there is no known case of expropriation. However, practice lags somewhat behind theory due to an insufficiently functioning justice system, an insufficient definition of property rights in the relevant law, and an insufficient consensus of opinions of various government authorities. According to the law, there is no difference between foreign and domestic entities (but in reality the courts often side with the domestic party). Foreign and domestic companies can establish and own a company (35% participation of a local entity is mandatory), investors can sell or transfer the established company, they can repatriate movable property. There are no conditions for investors regarding the need to make a profit, to buy preferentially local goods, to export a certain percentage of production, or to have to invest in a certain area. Likewise, there is no geographic or time restriction on foreign participation or mandatory technology transfer.

Despite the positives mentioned above, the business environment is still one of the most demanding in Africa. According to the latest evaluation of economic freedom carried out by the organization “Heritage Foundation”, Equatorial Guinea is classified in the group of “repressed” countries, out of 179 evaluated countries, it was ranked 173rd. The World Bank ranks Equatorial Guinea’s business and business climate 165th out of a total of 189 countries assessed (see “Doing business 2015”). Practical obstacles are still insufficient infrastructure, high production costs, a rigid labor market, a complicated legal system, a very slow judicial system that is unable to protect the investor (e.g. from unjustified lawsuits), unenforceability of contractual obligations, excessive bureaucracy, corruption and lack of transparency. There is no single government body that manages the investments. Most investments (and the conditions under which they are made) are negotiated directly with the relevant ministers. See, for example, on the website of the embassy.

The entry of foreign capital is governed by the Law on Investments (Régimen de inversiones) of 1992, which was amended in 1994. This law should be in accordance with the Charter of Investors of the CEMAC countries and the regulations of OHADA. Investments in the oil and mining sector are governed by special laws. Small and medium-sized businesses are governed by Law 16/1995, which grants benefits to businesses managed by an Equatorial Guinean citizen with more than 51% of local capital.

The Guinean government is trying to attract foreign investment to the country, especially in the reconstruction and construction of infrastructure, wood processing, exploration and extraction of hydrocarbon and mineral deposits, agriculture and food industry, tourism, fishing, expanding duty-free zones and free ports. Incentives (tax breaks, preferential depreciation…) can be obtained by companies producing for export, creating jobs for the local workforce, training local workers, investing in social services or in areas that are considered backward. A company investing in the interior of the mainland can also get relief, other exemptions can also get agricultural cooperatives, supply cooperatives, credit unions and public benefit companies. Companies doing business in free zones or the free port in Luba customs, personal income tax, does not pay corporate tax or VAT. However, in its Regulation No. 72/2014 of May 21, 2014, the government unexpectedly canceled all customs and tax exemptions, stating that each company must renegotiate them. If she fails to do so, she must pay all applicable taxes and duties. Exemptions from paying VAT and personal income tax have been completely abolished. See, for example, the website of the embassy.

Both foreign and domestic entities can establish a company (mandatory 35% participation of a Guinean entity), participate in all profit-making activities and realize their interests in other commercial and entrepreneurial companies. The investment (transfer of funds from abroad) must be approved by the government. The transfer and repatriation of movable property, dividends, funds obtained by business (after paying the relevant taxes and levies and respecting the rules of the Central Bank of the CEMAC zone) are also not restricted. Guinean law does not discriminate against foreigners and does not favor domestic entities. A foreign entity can acquire land only by presidential decree for a maximum of 99 years.

Based on CEMAC central bank regulations, the Guinean authorities require justification of the need for foreign currency purchases/transfers abroad above CFA 1 million ($2,500). Banks are required to register transactions (including the client’s identity) over $10,000 and require an affidavit of the origin of the money. If a foreign company wants to have an account in foreign currencies or invest an amount higher than 100 million CFA, it must have the approval of the Ministry of Finance.

Equatorial Guinea has signed bilateral investment and/or trade agreements with Spain, France, Portugal, Russia, China, Morocco and South Africa.

Equatorial Guinea: The country’s relations with the EU

The EU is one of Equatorial Guinea’s important trade partners.

Representation of the EU in the country

Equatorial Guinea is one of the few African countries where the EU is not represented.

The relevant representation is based in Gabon Délégation de l’Union européenne au Gabon, pour la Guinée équatoriale, Sao Tomé-et-Principe et la CEEAC

Coconut subdivision,

Bottom of Ford-Ford,

BP 321 Libreville – Gabon

Tel: (+241) 73 22 50 – (+241) 07 40 19 98/99 Fax: (+241) 73 65 54 – (+32) 2 299 86 16

E-mail: delegation-gabon@eeas.europa.eu

The country’s trade relations with the EU

The European Union (EU28) had a negative trade balance with Equatorial Guinea in 2018, importing goods worth billion euros and exporting goods worth 0.4 billion euros.

Provision of development funds and EU instruments

Within the framework of the 10th EDF in the years 2008-2013, the EU provided the country with aid in the amount of 1million Euros to improve public administration. It provided another million for programs focused on air transport, internet services and the development of small and medium-sized businesses. No aid will be provided under the 11th EDF (2014-2020).

Equatorial Guinea Trade