Chapter

GABON

Author(s):
International Monetary Fund. Monetary and Capital Markets Department
Published Date:
September 2004
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(Position as of February 29, 2004)
Status Under IMF Articles of Agreement
Article VIIIDate of acceptance: June 1, 1996.
Exchange Arrangement
CurrencyThe currency of Gabon is the CFA franc.
Exchange rate structureUnitary.
Classification
Exchange arrangement with no separate legal tenderThe CFA franc is pegged to the euro, the intervention currency, at the fixed rate of CFAF 655.957 per €1. Exchange transactions in euros between the BEAC and commercial banks take place at the same rate. Buying and selling rates for certain foreign currencies are also officially posted, with quotations based on the fixed rate for the euro and the rate for the currency concerned in the Paris exchange market, and include a commission. Commissions are levied at the rate of 0.5% on transfers made by the banks for their own accounts and on all private capital transfers to countries that are not members of the BEAC, except those made for the account of the treasury, national accounting offices, and private entities granted exemption by the Ministry of Economy, Finance, Budget, and Privatization (MEFBP) because of the nature of their activities.
Exchange taxForeign exchange operations are subject to a VAT, which is levied on commissions charged by authorized dealers.
Exchange subsidyNo.
Forward exchange marketThere are no domestic forward exchange markets, but exporters and importers may obtain foreign exchange risk cover on the Paris foreign exchange market for periods not exceeding nine months.
Arrangements for Payments and Receipts
Prescription of currency requirementsAs Gabon is linked to the French Treasury through an Operations Account, settlements with France, Monaco, and other Operations Account countries (WAEMU and CAEMC members and the Comoros) are made in CFA francs, euros, or the currency of any other Operations Account country. Settlements with all other countries are usually made through correspondent banks in euros or in any of the currencies of these countries or through foreign accounts in CFA francs.
Controls on the use of domestic currencyNo limits apply on the circulation of domestic currency among CAEMC member countries. As the domestic currency is no longer repurchased outside the CAEMC area, exports of domestic currency to the countries outside the CAEMC are prohibited.
For current transactions and paymentsThe CFA franc may be used freely for current transactions and payments within the CAEMC. It may be used, through correspondent banks, for payments with other countries, provided that both parties agree to the terms of the contract.
For capital transactionsThe CFA franc may be used freely for capital transactions within the CAEMC. Settlements with other countries are made in euros or in any of the currencies agreed to by both parties to the transaction.
Transactions in capital and money market instrumentsYes.
Transactions in derivatives and other instrumentsYes.
Credit operationsYes.
Use of foreign exchange among residentsUse of foreign exchange among residents is considered a foreign exchange operation and may be effected only through an authorized intermediary.
Payments arrangements
Regional arrangementsAn Operations Account is maintained with the French Treasury that links Operations Account countries. All purchases or sales of foreign currencies or euros against CFA francs are ultimately settled through a debit or credit to the Operations Account. The government is allowed to hold oil reserve-related deposits in foreign currencies with commercial banks, and to use them to service foreign debt obligations. Exchange regulations of member countries in the CAEMC are harmonized.
Clearing agreementsBanks in CAEMC countries may participate in a regional money market in which clearing is provided by the BEAC.
Administration of controlThe Directorate of Financial Institutions (DFI) of the MEFBP implements foreign exchange regulations on a subregional level. The MEFBP also has partly delegated its administrative authority over foreign exchange operations to authorized intermediaries (the postal administration and banks) that verify compliance, collect statistics, and report to the monetary authorities.
International security restrictions
In accordance with UN sanctionsRestrictions are enforced in accordance with Security Council Resolution No. 1373.
Payments arrearsNo.
Controls on trade in gold (coins and/or bullion)
Controls on domestic ownership and/or tradeResidents may hold, purchase, and sell gold and precious stones of all kinds within the CAEMC.
Controls on external tradeImports and exports of gold require the authorization of the MEFBP. Exempt from this requirement are (1) imports and exports by or on behalf of the monetary authorities, and (2) imports and exports of manufactured articles containing a small quantity of gold (such as gold-filled or gold-plated articles). The exportation of gold is the monopoly of the So-ciété gabonaise de recherches et d’exploitation miniéres. Imports of gold exempted from licensing and authorization requirements are subject to customs declaration.
Controls on exports and imports of banknotes
On exports
Domestic currencyExports of CFA francs issued by the BEAC to areas outside the CAEMC are prohibited.
Foreign currencyResidents traveling to areas outside the CAEMC are subject to the various limits imposed on foreign exchange allocated for each trip, depending on the nature of the travel. Nonresident travelers may take with them foreign currency or other foreign means of payment equivalent to the maximum amount declared upon entry into the CAEMC area. Above this ceiling or in the absence of declaration, nonresidents must provide supporting documents explaining the origin of such amounts.
On imports
Domestic currencyThere is no limit on the amount of banknotes that residents and nonresidents may import into one CAEMC country from another, but imports of banknotes from outside the CAEMC area, by both residents and nonresidents, are prohibited.
Foreign currencyResident and nonresident travelers may import foreign banknotes and coins into Gabon, but the amount must be declared to customs.
Resident Accounts
Foreign exchange accounts permittedYes.
Held domesticallyResidents are not authorized to open foreign exchange accounts within the CAEMC area.
Approval requiredThe minister of finance may permit certain resident legal entities to open foreign exchange accounts subject to BEAC approval.
Held abroadThese accounts are permitted, but must be reported to the monetary authorities.
Approval requiredYes.
Accounts in domestic currency held abroadResidents may hold accounts in the CAEMC area or in other countries subject to regulatory provisions of the countries concerned.
Accounts in domestic currency convertible into foreign currencyDomestic currency accounts are not convertible into foreign exchange.
Nonresident Accounts
Foreign exchange accounts permittedThese accounts are permitted, but must be reported to the monetary authorities through the authorized intermediaries.
Domestic currency accountsAuthorized intermediaries are permitted to open foreign exchange accounts in CFA francs for nonresidents, provided that they inform the monetary authorities.
Blocked accountsResidents and nonresidents may maintain blocked accounts with banks in Gabon.
Imports and Import Payments
Foreign exchange budgetNo.
Financing requirements for importsNo.
Documentation requirements for release of foreign exchange for imports
Domiciliation requirementsAll import transactions in excess of CFAF 5 million must be domiciled with an authorized bank.
Letters of creditYes.
Import licenses and other nontariff measures
Negative listImports of some products are prohibited for security and health reasons. Quantitative restrictions are maintained on imports of sugar.
Open general licensesImports from all countries, except for sugar, are permitted freely and do not require licenses. Except for gold and health- and security-related items, imports are subject to declaration for statistical purposes.
Other nontariff measuresAll imports of commercial goods must be insured through authorized insurance companies in Gabon.
Import taxes and/or tariffsThe common duty rates of the CAEMC member countries are 5% for basic necessities, 10% for raw materials and capital goods, 20% for intermediate goods, and 30% for consumer goods. On January 22, 2004, the surcharge applicable to imports of lubricants and water was removed. The surcharge on imports of cooking oil and soap was removed on April 10, 2003.
State import monopolyNo.
Exports and Export Proceeds
Repatriation requirementsProceeds from exports to countries outside the CAEMC area must be collected and repatriated within 30 days of the payment date stipulated in the contract, unless a special waiver is granted by the MEFBP.
Surrender requirementsExport proceeds received in foreign currencies be must surrendered to the BEAC within one month of receipt.
Financing requirementsNo.
Documentation requirements
Letters of creditYes.
GuaranteesYes.
DomiciliationExport transactions in excess of CFAF 5 million must be domiciled with an authorized bank.
Export licensesExports are subject to declaration to the Ministry of Foreign Trade.
Export taxesEffective February 23, 2004, the export tax on unprocessed forestry products was reduced to 17% from 20% and that on manganese to 3.5% from 5%.
Payments for Invisible Transactions and Current Transfers
Controls on these transfersPayments for invisibles to France and the Operations Account countries are permitted freely; payments to other countries are subject to bona fide tests in the form of declaration and presentation of supporting documents to the MEFBP. For many types of payments, the MEFBP has delegated the control authority to authorized intermediaries.
Trade-related payments
Indicative limits/bona fide testPayments for invisibles related to trade are permitted freely when the underlying trade transaction has been approved or does not require authorization. Payments exceeding CFAF 100 million are subject to supporting documentary requirements.
Investment-related payments
Indicative limits/bona fide testPayments of profits, dividends, interest, and royalties to nonresidents are permitted freely when the underlying transaction has been authorized or does not require authorization.
Payments for travel
Quantitative limitsResidents traveling to France or other Operations Account countries may obtain an unlimited amount of euros. Travelers to the CAEMC area may take out BEAC banknotes without limit. Residents traveling to areas outside the CAEMC are allowed to take out foreign banknotes and other means of payment up to the equivalent of CFAF 4 million and CFAF 10 million for tourism and business purposes, respectively.
Indicative limits/bona fide testYes.
Personal payments
Prior approvalYes.
Quantitative limitsStudents and trainees traveling to countries outside the CAEMC area may obtain a foreign exchange allocation of CFAF 5 million. Persons traveling to countries outside the CFA franc zone for medical reasons may obtain a foreign exchange allocation of up to the equivalent of CFAF 5 million; additional amounts may be obtained upon submission of supporting documentation.
Indicative limits/bona fide testYes.
Foreign workers’ wages
Quantitative limitsForeign workers are allowed to transfer part of their net salary upon presentation of their pay vouchers and a copy of their work contract.
Indicative limits/bona fide testYes.
Credit card use abroad
Quantitative limitsThe use of credit cards issued by resident financial intermediaries with MEFBP approval is limited to the ceilings applicable to tourism and business travel.
Indicative limits/bona fide testYes.
Proceeds from Invisible Transactions and Current Transfers
Repatriation requirementsThe proceeds from all invisible transactions with respect to ordinary services, income, and grants must be declared to the administrative authorities. Transactions exceeding CFAF 5 million must be domiciled with a CAEMC authorized bank.
Surrender requirementsAll proceeds received from residents of other countries with respect to services and all income earned in those countries from foreign assets must be collected within 30 days of the due date, and if received in foreign currency, surrendered to the BEAC within one month of receipt.
Restrictions on use of fundsNo.
Capital Transactions
Controls on capital transactionsCapital transactions between Gabon and France and the Operations Account countries are permitted freely, except for the sale or issuance of foreign securities. Capital transfers to all other countries are restricted and require the approval of the DFI, but capital transfers from these countries are permitted freely, provided that they are not related to activities that are prohibited by CAEMC regulations. All foreign securities, foreign currency, and titles embodying claims on foreign countries or nonresidents that are held in Gabon by residents or nonresidents must be deposited with authorized banks in Gabon.
Controls on capital and money market instruments
On capital market securities
Shares or other securities of a participating nature
Purchase locally by nonresidentsThese transactions must be reported to the MEFBP.
Sale or issue locally by nonresidentsThe issuing, advertising, or offering for sale of foreign securities in amounts exceeding CFAF 10 million in Gabon requires prior authorization from the MEFBP. Operations in connection with the following are exempt from authorization: (1) loans backed by a guarantee from the Gabonese government, and (2) shares similar to securities whose issuing, advertising, or offering for sale in Gabon has previously been authorized.
Purchase abroad by residentsYes.
Sale or issue abroad by residentsThese transactions must be reported to the MEFBP.
Bonds or other debt securitiesThese transactions must be reported to the MEFBP and the BEAC 30 days before they are effected.
On money market instrumentsThese transactions must be reported to the MEFBP and the BEAC.
On collective investment securitiesThese transactions must be reported to the MEFBP and the BEAC 30 days before they are effected.
Controls on derivatives and other instruments
Purchase abroad by residentsThese transactions must be reported to the MEFBP and the BEAC.
Sale or issue abroad by residentsThese transactions must be reported to the MEFBP and the BEAC.
Controls on credit operations
Commercial credits
By residents to nonresidentsLending by natural and juridical persons whose usual residence or registered office is in Gabon or by branches or subsidiaries in Gabon of juridical persons whose registered office is abroad requires prior authorization from the MEFBP. The following are exempt from this authorization: (1) loans granted by authorized banks; and (2) other loans, of which the total amount outstanding does not exceed CFAF 100 million for any one lender. However, for loans that are free of authorization, each repayment must be declared to the DFI within 30 days of the operation.
To residents from nonresidentsBorrowing contracted by natural and juridical persons whose usual residence or registered office is in Gabon or by branches or subsidiaries in Gabon of juridical persons whose registered office is abroad requires prior authorization from the MEFBP. The following transactions are exempt from this authorization: (1) loans constituting a direct investment abroad for which prior approval has been obtained; (2) loans directly connected with the rendering of services abroad by the persons or firms mentioned above, or with the financing of commercial transactions either between Gabon and countries abroad or between foreign countries in which these persons or firms take part; (3) loans contracted by authorized banks; and (4) loans other than those mentioned above, of which the total amount outstanding does not exceed CFAF 100 million for any one borrower. However, for the contracting of loans referred to under (4) that are free of authorization, each repayment must be declared to the DFI within 30 days of the operation.
Financial credits
By residents to nonresidentsYes.
To residents from nonresidentsYes.
Guarantees, sureties, and financial backup facilities
By residents to nonresidentsThese transactions must be reported to the MEFBP and the BEAC. Authorization from the MEFBP is required for transactions exceeding CFAF 100 million in value.
To residents from nonresidentsThese transactions must be reported to the MEFBP and the BEAC.
Controls on direct investmentDirect investment is defined as the acquisition of more than 10% of the capital of a company.
Outward direct investmentDirect investments, including those made by companies in Gabon that are directly or indirectly under foreign control and those made by branches or subsidiaries of foreign companies in Gabon, must be declared to the MEFBP within 30 days of operation unless they take the form of a capital increase resulting from reinvestment of undistributed profits.
Inward direct investmentDirect investments exceeding CFAF 100 million must be declared to the MEFBP within 30 days of the operation unless they take the form of a capital increase resulting from the reinvestment of undistributed profits.
Controls on liquidation of direct investmentThe full or partial liquidation of direct investments in Gabon must be declared to the MEFBP within 30 days of the operation unless the operation involves the relinquishing of a shareholding that had previously been approved as constituting a direct investment in Gabon.
Controls on real estate transactions
Purchase abroad by residentsTransactions must be supported by appropriate documents and reported to the MEFBP.
Purchase locally by nonresidentsTransactions must be supported by appropriate documents and reported to the MEFBP.
Sale locally by nonresidentsTransactions must be supported by appropriate documents and reported to the MEFBP.
Controls on personal capital transactionsTransactions are permitted without controls but supporting documents indicating the origin of funds and the nature of transactions must be presented.
Loans
By residents to nonresidentsAmounts exceeding CFAF 100 million are subject to authorization.
To residents from nonresidentsTransactions in excess of CFAF 100 million must be reported to the MEFBP.
Gifts, endowments, inheritances, and legacies
By residents to nonresidentsAmounts exceeding CFAF 100 million require authorization.
To residents from nonresidentsAmounts exceeding CFAF 100 million require authorization.
Settlement of debts abroad by immigrantsMEFBP authorization is required for settlement of debts abroad exceeding CFAF 5 million; supporting documents (loan contract, schedule, etc.) must be presented.
Transfer of assets
Transfer abroad by emigrantsSupporting documents on the origin of the funds must be submitted.
Transfer into the country by immigrantsTransfers exceeding CFAF 100 million must be reported to the MEFBP.
Transfer of gambling and prize earningsSupporting documents on the origin of the funds must be submitted.
Provisions specific to commercial banks and other credit institutions
Borrowing abroadBorrowing must be reported to the MEFBP and the BEAC.
Maintenance of accounts abroadAccounts abroad may be opened freely but they may be used only for settling transactions with correspondent accounts abroad and not for speculative purposes.
Lending to nonresidents (financial or commercial credits)Lending (and repayment of loans) must be reported to the MEFBP and the BEAC within 30 days of execution.
Lending locally in foreign exchangeThese transactions are prohibited.
Purchase of locally issued securities denominated in foreign exchangeThese transactions are subject to MEFBP authorization.
Investment regulations
Abroad by banksAuthorized banks may invest part of their equity capital abroad with authorization by the BEAC and the Banking Commission.
In banks by nonresidentsNonresidents may be authorized to invest in local banks with the authorization of the BEAC and the Banking Commission.
Open foreign exchange position limitsEffective October 25, 2003, a limit of 15% applies to the ratio between the weighted average of the long or short position (whichever is higher) in each foreign currency and the net equity capital, up to a 45% ratio across all currencies.
Provisions specific to institutional investors
Limits (max.) on securities issued by nonresidentsYes.
Limits (max.) on investment portfolio held abroadYes.
Other controls imposed by securities lawsn.r.
Changes During 2003
Imports and import paymentsApril 10. The import tariff surcharge applicable to imports of cooking oil and soap was removed.
Capital transactions
Provisions specific to commercial banks and other credit institutionsOctober 25. A limit of 15% between the weighted average of the long or short position in each foreign currency and the net equity capital, up to a maximum of 45% in all currencies, was imposed.
Changes During 2004
Imports and import paymentsJanuary 22. The surcharge on imports of lubricants and water was removed.
Exports and export proceedsFebruary 23. The export tax on unprocessed forestry products was reduced to 17% from 20% and that on manganese to 3.5% from 5%.

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