Return to: Index of "1996 Country Commercial Guides" ||
Index of "Economic and Business Issues" ||
Electronic Research Collections Index ||
U.S. Department of State
Togo Country Commercial Guide
Office of the Coordinator for Business Affairs
Country Commercial Guide--Togo
-- Table of Contents
I. Executive Summary
II. Economic Trends and Outlook
A. Major Trends and Outlook
B. Principal Growth Sectors
C. Balance of Payments Situation
D. Infrastructure Situation
III. Political Environment
A. Nature of Political Relationship with the United States
B. Major Political Issues Affecting Business Climate
C. Brief Synopsis of Political System, Schedule For Elections,
and Orientation of Major Political Parties
IV. Marketing U.S. Products and Services
A. Distribution and Sales Channels
B. Use of Agents and Distributors; Finding a Partner
D. Direct Marketing
E. Joint Ventures/licensing
F. Steps to Establishing an Office
G. Selling Factors/techniques
H. Advertising and Trade Promotion
I. Protecting Your Product from IPR Infringement
J. Need for a Local Attorney
V. Leading Sectors for U.S. Exports and Investment
A. Best Prospects for Non-agricultural Goods and Services
B. Best Prospects for Agricultural Products
C. Significant Investment Opportunities (Optional)
VI. Trade Regulations and Standards
A. Trade Barriers
B. Customs Valuation
C. Import Licenses
D. Export Controls
E. Import/export Documentation
F. Temporary Entry
H. Prohibited Imports
I. Free Trade Zones/warehouses
J. Membership in Free Trade Arrangements
VII. Investment Climate
A. Elements of an Open Investment Regime
1. Openess to Foreign Investment
2. Conversion and Transfer Policies
3. Expropriation and Compensation
4. Dispute Settlement
5. Performance Requirements/incentives
6. Protection of Property Rights
7. Political Violence
B. Bilateral Investment Agreements
C. Opic and Other Investment Insurance Programs
E. Foreign Trade Zones/free Ports
F. Major Foreign Investors
VIII. Trade and Project Financing
A. The Banking System
B. Foreign Exchange Controls Affecting Trading
C. General Financing Availability
D. How to Finance Exports/Methods of Payment
E. Available Export Financing and Insurance
F. Project Financing Available
G. List of Banks with Correspondent U.S. Banking
IX. Business Travel
A. Business Customs
B. Travel Advisory and Visas
D. Business Infrastructure
A. Country Data
B. Domestic Economy
D. Investment Statistics
E. U.S. and Country Contacts
F. Market Research
G. Trade Event Schedule
I. Executive Summary
Togo is a small country on the coast of West Africa located between
Ghana and Benin. The majority of the population depends on subsistence
agriculture. Coffee, cotton, and cocoa are the major export crops.
Phosphate exports are the largest source of foreign exchange. The
capital, Lome, is a regional commercial and banking center, although its
position relative to neighboring countries has been eroded in recent
years because of political and economic difficulties.
Since late 1990, Togo's economy has been adversely affected by unsettled
political conditions. Sporadic civil disorders resulted in a fall in
domestic and regional commerce starting in 1991. Although successful
elections were held in 1994, leading to the installation of a new
government led by Prime Minister Edem Kodjo, the general atmosphere of
political uncertainty has continued to depress the market.
A new three-year Structural Adjustment Program was approved for Togo by
the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank in September 1994.
Disbursements under the new program depend on progress towards increased
government savings, privatization of state enterprises, a broadened tax
base, and reduced expenditures while maintaining a high rate of growth
in real investment expenditure.
The near term prospects are for modest economic growth as the economy
recovers from the political and economic problems of the early 1990s.
While Togo's limited domestic market is of little interest to foreign
investors, its traditional role as a transshipment point for neighboring
countries, including the massive Nigerian market, have made it an
attractive base for investments aimed at the West African market.
Togolese exports also enjoy preferential access to the European Union
under the Lome Convention, and to the U.S. market through the
Generalized System of Preferences (GSP). Trade and investment
activities of U.S. businesses in Togo have traditionally been limited.
Togo's port, airport, telecommunications system, and highways are among
the best in West Africa. Expatriate living conditions are also
comfortable, although the political instability of the last several
years has been accompanied by a rise in the crime rate.
With the current economic situation in Togo, the best trade prospects
for U.S. business will be in donor-financed development projects. The
World Bank, the West African Development Bank, and the African
Development Bank have projects either underway or under consideration.
Interested businesses can obtain information about specific projects
from the U.S. Embassy in Lome or from the U.S. Foreign Commercial
Service office in Abidjan.
Country Commercial Guides are available on the National Trade Data Bank
on CD-ROM or through the Internet. Please contact STAT-USA at 1-800-
STAT-USA for more information. To locate Country Commercial Guides via
the Internet, please use the following World Wide Web address: www.stat-
usa.gov. CCGs can also be ordered in hard copy or on diskette from the
National Technical Information Service (NTIS) at 1-800-553-NTIS.
II. Economic Trends and Outlook
A. Major Trends and Outlook:
Togo has followed economic reform programs supported by the World Bank
and IMF since the early 1980s with moderate success, at least until
political difficulties began in 1990. The reforms included a reduction
in the fiscal deficit, the privatization and liquidation of various
state enterprises, tax and tariff reform, reform in the agricultural
marketing system, decontrol of prices and profit margins, and
elimination of most import quotas.
After suffering a fall in prices for its export commodities, Togo
undertook an adjustment program which resulted in some success in 1988-
90, resulting in lower inflation, greater exports and a higher GDP. In
1990, progress slowed due to late rains and a decline in phosphate
production. Since 1991, the problematic political situation has had a
negative impact on the economy. These factors led to a cessation of
disbursements under Togo's IMF and World Bank programs in 1991. New
agreements were reached in May 1992 under which the government was
committed to expend greater efforts to tax the informal sector and roll
back some of the civil service and parastatal salary hikes that were
granted the previous year. Due to failures of the government to repay
World Bank/IMF loans during the 1992-93 strike, however, the second
tranche of its Structural Adjustment Loan (SAL) ($15 million) with the
World Bank remained suspended. In the wake of the announcement of the
CFA franc devaluation in January 1994 and the installation of a new,
elected government, Togo negotiated a new three-year agreement with the
IFI's which was approved in September 1994.
Although economic growth always depends on exogenous factors such as
rainfall and the world prices for Togo's exports, the other primary
factor is the political climate. The repeated disturbances and
uncertainty regarding the fate of the democratic transition have
depressed the economy's growth. The installation of a constitutional
government and the resumption of economic assistance from France and the
European Union, along with a new agreement with the IFI's, may help turn
the recent downward trend around.
B. Principal Growth Sectors:
Agriculture: The agricultural sector accounts for approximately one-
third of GDP and employs over 70 percent of the population. Foodstuffs
account for almost 90 percent of the value of agricultural output.
Although cash crops account for only 11 percent of the agricultural GDP,
they are the source of almost 30 percent of Togo's export earnings
Togo's main food crops include corn, sorghum, millet, cassava, and yams.
Most food crops are produced by subsistence farmers who operate on
family farms of less than three hectares. Production of major food
crops was good in 1994. Togo has a deficit in both fish and meat
production which is being met by imports from Europe and West African
neighbors. Fish is an important part of the Togolese diet, but Togo
does not have a developed fishing industry.
Togo's major export crops are coffee, cocoa, and cotton. In light of
the falling world prices for coffee and cocoa and the favorable climate
and geography for cotton, there has been a greater emphasis on cotton
production in the last decade. Improvements in world prices for coffee
and cocoa have led to some increased production in the past two years.
Government agencies are responsible for the marketing of coffee, cotton,
and cocoa internationally, although the marketing of other crops has
been privatized. The IFI's are pushing the Togolese to further
privatize the marketing of its principal cash crops, with mixed success.
Some attempts are being made to export pineapples, houseplants,
vegetables, and palm oil.
Phosphates: Over the last five years, phosphates have accounted for 20
to 30 percent of total exports, 10 to 13 percent of government revenues,
and six to ten percent of GDP. (Note: These figures are from the 1992
IMF statistical annex, pg. 13, 46 &47.) Togo has an estimated 130
million tons of phosphate reserves, and the government-owned Togolese
Phosphate Office (OTP) has a production capacity of 3.5 million tons a
year. Due to the general strike, OTP experienced a significant drop in
production during 1993, but rebounded to exports of 2.7 million tons in
1994. Primary consumers of Togo's phosphates are South Africa, Canada,
India, and the Philippines.
Industry: Industry plays a relatively small role in the Togolese
economy, usually accounting for only about six to eight percent of GDP.
Much of Togo's industrial base dates back to the government's
industrialization program in the late 1970s and early 1980s which
resulted in a number of ill-conceived and poorly-run parastatals.
Decreased demand due to the economic difficulties of the past several
years has badly hurt local industries, although the January 1994 CFA
franc devaluation may ultimately give them a boost.
Under earlier IFI programs, the government liquidated some parastatals,
privatized others, and improved the management of many of those
remaining under state control. Shell has taken over the non-functioning
oil refinery for storage of refined petroleum products. In 1985 the
Danish company Emedan signed a 10-year lease to operate a government-
owned dairy. Other major industrial concerns include a biscuit factory,
a spaghetti factory, a brewery, a flour mill, a detergent factory, and
an edible oil refinery.
Commerce: Commerce has traditionally played a leading role in the
Togolese economy. Togo's relatively liberal trade policy and good
infrastructure, including the port, airport, roads, and
telecommunications system, have made it an important transshipment
center, particularly for goods going to Nigeria, Ghana, Burkina Faso,
Mali, and Niger. About 25 to 30 percent of Togo's imports are
officially reexported, but actual reexports are probably much higher
since many of the goods entering Togo leave the country through informal
Togo's relative advantages as a regional trading center have eroded in
recent years due to improvements in the business climates in neighboring
counties and the political instability in Togo. Trade through the port
of Lome also dropped, although shipping volume has improved in 1995.
Tourism: Togo's tourist industry has been badly affected by the long
period of political instability and periodic violence. The occupancy
rate of Lome's hotels was under 30 percent for 1994. There is little
prospect for significant immediate improvement.
Foreign investment: The government of Togo approved a new investment
code and an Export Processing Zone (EPZ) law in late 1989 designed to
encourage foreign investment. The investment code provides for faster
approvals and more favorable tax treatment than did the previous 1985
Most foreign investment will probably be made under the EPZ law which
covers export-oriented firms. The EPZ law allows duty-free imports and
exports, a 10-year income tax holiday, reduced payroll taxes, a 10-year
exemption from taxes on dividends paid to foreign shareholders, and
exemption from the general business tax, the right to hire and fire
workers, reduced electricity and water rates, and the right to hold
local foreign currency-denominated accounts. As of June 1995, there are
20 companies operating in the EPZ.
C. Balance of Payments Situation: Togo's balance of payments situation
improved in 1994 to a deficit of FCFA 20.8 billion ($41.6 million).
Togo's trade balance registered a rare surplus of FCFA 7.5 billion, due
mostly to depressed demand for imports following the CFA devaluation,
and devaluation gains for its principal exports.
D. Infrastructure Situation: Togo has one of the better business
infrastructures in West Africa, although some deterioration has occurred
because of reduced maintenance. Togo has paved major roads linking Lome
with the Burkina Faso border to the north via the towns of Atakpame,
Kara, Mango, and Dapaong, and with the Ghana and Benin borders on its
west and east, respectively. Togo has an excellent telephone system
with direct dial to most countries. The Lome port is modern and
efficient. It operates 24-hours a day and can handle most types of
cargo vessels. The Lome port handles a significant volume of goods for
transshipment to the Sahel. Togo's electricity and water supplies are
also dependable. Electricity is produced by hydro and thermal power in
Togo, but a large percentage of its needs are purchased from the Volta
River Authority in Ghana.
III. Political environment
A. Nature of Political Relationship With The United States: Although
former colonialist France is still the dominant political influence in
the country, Togo and the United States have enjoyed warm political
relations for many years. The relationship was strained by the
protracted and difficult transition to democracy, during which the
United States suspended bilateral economic assistance. The installation
of an elected government in June 1994 has led to more normal relations,
although bilateral economic assistance remains much reduced. The
primary goal of the U.S. government in Togo is to promote respect for
democracy and the rule of law.
B. Major Political Issues Affecting Business Climate: General
Gnassingbe Eyadema has been president of Togo since he took power during
a coup in 1967. His party, the Rassemblement du Peuple Togolais (RPT),
was for many years the sole legal political party. Beginning in late
1990, however, strike actions and demonstrations led by students and
taxi drivers began a movement that demonstrated the Togolese' wish for a
more democratic form of government.
A transition government was named in August 1991 to lead Togo through
constitutional, local, legislative, and presidential elections. The
transition process was not smooth. Demonstrations, an opposition-
sponsored political general strike from November 1992 through July 1993
which severely shocked the economy, and sporadic outbreaks of violence
from elements of the security forces and others created an unsettled
atmosphere for much of 1992 and 1993.
Progress toward free elections and installation of a definitive
government was slow and painful. A new, democratic constitution was
overwhelmingly approved in a referendum in September 1992. Seriously
flawed presidential elections in August 1993 reinstated President
Eyadema for a five-year term, but were boycotted by the opposition
parties and a majority of voters and did not resolve underlying
divisions between the opposition and pro-Eyadema factions of Togolese
society. After extensive negotiations between the opposition and the
presidential side, legislative elections were held in February 1994.
The parties opposed to Eyadema won a slim majority in a poll that was
generally held to have been free and fair.
The constitution requires the President to name the Prime Minister from
among the parliamentary majority. President Eyadema selected Edem
Kodjo, representing the smaller of the two opposition parties, to be
Prime Minister, and his government was installed in June 1994. His
nomination provoked a split between his party and the largest opposition
party, the Comite d'Action pour le Renouveau (CAR), which, despite
initial participation in the legislature, later chose to boycott the
parliament. Kodjo was forced into a de facto governing alliance with
President Eyadema. As of July 1995 the CAR boycott continues, which has
slowed the pace of the legislature and blunted its ability to act
forcefully to end the political crisis of the last few years. Overall
the government, while faced by severe economic difficulties, shares the
generally free-market, pro-Western orientation of previous governments
and has declared its intention to promote democracy, human rights, and
the rule of law, but is expected to have difficulty fulfilling its
promises of political and economic betterment.
C. Synopsis of Political System: Togo is a multi-party republic, led
by an elected President as Head of State, and a Prime Minister, drawn
from the Parliamentary majority, as Head of Government. There is an
elected Parliament, with members representing geographic districts. The
country is divided into prefectures and prefects are supervised by the
Minister of the Interior. According to Togo's 1992 constitution,
locally-elected councils will govern local affairs, but elections are
still pending as of July 1995.
IV. Marketing U.S. Products and services
A. Distribution and Sales Channels: Distribution and sales channels
are concentrated in Lome. Commercial banks, insurance agencies, and
some major retailers have branches in Togo's smaller cities. Most
smaller retailers purchase goods in Lome for sale upcountry.
B. Use of Agents and Distributors; Finding a Partner: Most imported
goods in Togo are sold via exclusive distributor/agent arrangements.
Use of a locally-based agent or distributor is crucial for introduction
of new products. Many Togolese businesspeople are eager for
partnerships with American companies, but most would require significant
support for promotional activities and furnishing of adequate stock.
C. Franchising: Franchising is not prohibited in Togo, but it is
D. Direct Marketing: Direct marketing of U.S. products is possible,
perhaps to wholesalers, but use of a local agent or partner is more
likely to bring results.
E. Joint Ventures/Licensing: Joint ventures are encouraged by the
Togolese government. Some products are produced and sold in Togo under
licensing agreements--such as Coca-Cola products--but the practice is
F. Steps To Establishing an Office: Establishing an office in Togo is
relatively simple. If there is to be an expatriate manager, s/he must
obtain a residence permit from the ministry of the interior. The
authorization to open an office is available from the Ministry of
Commerce (app. $20). the company also needs to register with the
commercial court (cost varies according to projected sales volume) and
the Togolese Chamber of Commerce (app. $40). The last step is to obtain
an importer's card from the Ministry of Commerce (app. $70 per year).
G. Selling Factors/Techniques: In the Togolese market, price is often
more important than quality. Product pricing is generally free,
although following the January 1994 announcement of the CFA franc
devaluation, the Togolese government attempted to control prices of some
primary commodities. The efforts were mostly unsuccessful. Personal
visits offer the highest sales potential, especially for retail goods.
U.S. exporters interested in the Togolese market should have their
products conform to packaging and sizes already available and accepted
in the local market.
H. Advertising and Trade Promotion: U.S. firms may place announcements
in the Chamber of Commerce monthly bulletin. (For contact information,
see Appendix D.) Advertisements can be placed in the government's daily
newspaper, the Togo Presse (EdiTogo, BP 891, Lome, Togo, (228) 21-37-18,
Fax (228) 21-14-89). There are also numerous private newspapers which
publish more or less regularly. Some of the better-established include:
Kpakpa-Desenchante, Tribune des Democrates, le Crocodile, Forum Hebdo.
Those interested in contacting the private press may wish to first
contact the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Information Service in Lome.
Advertisements may also be placed with the government-run Radio Lome, or
the private Radio Kanal Plus.
I. Protecting Your Product From IPR Infringement: Togo is a member of
WIPO and of the Cameroon-based African Industrial Property Organization.
J. Need For A Local Attorney: A local attorney is necessary for legal
procedures. Firms are not required to have a permanent attorney. The
U.S. Embassy consular section maintains a list of attorneys who have
indicated their willingness to work with American clients. Few speak
English, but adequate translation services are available.
V. Leading Sectors for U.S. Exports and Investment
Although the Togolese market is dominated by French goods and lower-cost
Asian products continue to win more market share, the Togolese are well-
disposed towards American products. In post-devaluation Togo, price and
perceived quality is a more important factor than before. American
goods currently on the market generally compete successfully with French
and other products. Although South African products are not readily
available in Togo, many in the business community expect them to become
a major factor in many sectors over the next five to ten years.
A. Best Prospects For Non-agricultural Goods and Services:
--Telecommunications equipment (TEL): The Togolese are planning a
cellular telephone project, are upgrading the local satellite earth
station, and are favorably predisposed towards U.S. producers. American
companies have successfully won several telecommunications contracts in
Togo over the past ten years, including the recent awarding of a US$1.5
million contract to GTE. Togo's tenuous economic situation makes short
term planning for new projects difficult, but the Togolese want to
maintain their already good business infrastructure, including upgrading
--Pharmaceuticals (especially generics) (DRG): The Togolese have
traditionally purchased pharmaceuticals from France, but liberalization
of the pharmaceuticals market, the CFA franc devaluation, and the Bamako
initiative have piqued increased interest in generics. The Togolese
market is estimated at about FCFA 8-10 billion (US$16-21 million)
annually. Any new drugs entering the market must be registered/approved
by the Ministry of Health (a time-consuming, but not especially onerous
process). To compete successfully, packaging should be available in
French and a local representative should be engaged to promote the
products with local physicians and pharmacists.
--Cosmetics/Toiletries (COS): U.S. products, especially hair and
cosmetic products produced for the African American market are already
sought after in Togo. Much of the current trade is "suitcase" trade
with the Togolese vendor purchasing products retail in the United
States. Sales points include several boutiques and numerous hair
salons. Primary competitors are low-cost knock-offs of U.S. products
from Nigeria, although middle and upper class Togolese are wary of their
quality. The size of the market is difficult to estimate because so
much of the trade is informal. The major local boutiques also reexport
to buyers from as far away as Gabon.
--Used Clothing/Used Shoes (TXP): The U.S. exports US$1.5-2.5 million
to Togo annually. The business, which is locally dominated by Nigerian
traders, is large, with reexports going to vendors thoughout West and
Central Africa. Primary sources for importers are the U.S. and Germany.
B. Best Prospects For Agricultural Products:
--Wheat and Wheat Flour: The Societe des Grands Moulins du Togo (SGMT),
the country's only flour mill, will import some 60,000 MT of wheat in
1995. A portion of this is hard wheat from the U.S. and Canada, which
it uses in its "English Blend" flour. It imports the majority of its
supplies, however, in soft wheat from France.
--Turkey tails: Prior to Togo's 1989 ban on imported frozen meats
(since repealed), U.S. turkey tails were very popular with local
consumers. (Venders sold fried turkey tails by the piece in the Central
Market.) U.S. exporters interested in entering the market should have
their product conform to locally-desired packaging size.
VI. Trade Regulations and Standards
A. Trade Barriers: There are few restrictions on trade.
B. Customs valuation: Generally based on the exporter's bill of
lading or invoice.
C. Import licenses: Not required in Togo.
D. Export Controls: The government controls food exports (yams,
cassava, corn, etc.) in order to prevent internal shortages. Otherwise
there are no controls.
E. Import/export documentation: Bills of lading
and/or invoices are usually sufficient. Safety certificates are
required for raw agricultural products.
F. Temporary Entry: There are bonded warehouses available for goods
to be reexported. Items to be used for a specific period are granted
Temporary Admission certificates--i.e. for foreign contractors using
equipment for a project or goods imported to Togo for a trade show.
G. Prohibited Imports: Items banned by law such as firearms,
narcotics, ammunition, etc.
H. Free Trade Zones/Warehouses: They exist in the port of Lome and
can be established elsewhere in the country as necessary as long as the
company is registered with the Export Processing Zone.
I. Membership in Free Trade Arrangements: Togo is a member of the
Economic Community of West African States and of the West African
Economic and Monetary Union.
VII. Investment Climate
A. Elements Of An Open Investment Regime
1. Openness To Foreign Investment: The current investment code was
passed by the National Assembly in October 1989 and enacted in April
1990. The code and related regulations were designed to encourage
foreign investment, and they represented an improvement over the
previous code. The code generally provides for equal treatment for
foreign and national investors. In some instances, notably relating to
foreign exchange regulations and investment disputes, the code favors
foreign investors over national investors.
The code permits investment in the following sectors: (A) agriculture,
animal husbandry, fishing, forestry, and activities related to the
transformation of vegetable and animal products; (b) manufacturing; (c)
exploration, extraction, and transformation of minerals; (d) social and
low-cost housing; (e) hotels and tourist infrastructure; (f)
agricultural storage; (g) applied research laboratories; and (h) socio-
cultural activities. Investment under the code is limited to new
investments of at least fcfa 25 million (about $50,000) for foreign
companies and FCFA five million (about $10,000) for Togolese companies.
Investments of less than FCFA five million are covered by the Togolese
corporation charter. The investment code covers the expansions of
existing enterprises if the cost of the expansion is at least half the
value of the existing enterprise. Investors must provide at least 25
percent of the value of a new investment. At least 60 percent of the
payroll must go to Togolese citizens. Applications for approval under
the law must be submitted to the planning ministry, which, in
consultation with the national investment commission, approves or
rejects the applications within 30 days, as compared to three to six
months under the old law. In practice, approvals take slightly longer
than the required 30 days. The government decree granting approval
spells out the conditions of the investment.
2. Conversion and Transfer Policies: The investment code provides for
the free transfer of revenues derived from investments, including the
liquidation of investments, by non-residents. Togo uses the CFA franc,
which is fixed at a rate of FCFA 100/French franc. There are no
restrictions on the transfer of funds to other West African franc zone
countries or to France. The transfer of more than FCFA 50,000 (about
$100) outside the franc zone requires Finance Ministry approval.
Approvals are routinely granted for foreign companies and individuals,
although it often takes as long as a week rather than the two days
stipulated in the law. Togolese citizens and companies are not
generally allowed to hold bank accounts outside of the franc zone.
There is little outward direct investment from Togo, and the government
does not encourage it.
3. Expropriation and Compensation: The only nationalization to occur
was the 1974 nationalization of the French-owned phosphate mine.
Compensation was paid.
4. Dispute Settlement: There are no known investment disputes
outstanding in Togo. The investment code provides for the resolution of
investment disputes involving foreigners through either the provisions
of bilateral agreements between the government of Togo and the
investor's government, conciliation and arbitration procedures agreed to
between the interested parties, and the international center for the
settlement of investment disputes of which Togo is a member.
5. Performance Requirements/Incentives: Investments in certain sectors
are exempt from some import duties and taxes on imported equipment
during the investment phase of the project if local raw materials and
intermediate goods account for at least 60 percent of the total used.
The duration of the investment phase is specified in the decree
approving the investment and may not exceed three years. The export
incentives involve income tax deductions in proportion to the share of
export revenues in total revenues, but not to exceed 75 percent of
income. The Togolese customs code provides special provisions for the
duty-free import of inputs used in producing exports. The investment
code divides Togo into three zones--(1) Lome, (2) southern Togo (outside
of Lome), and (3) central and northern Togo--and provides special
benefits for investment in zones 2 and 3. As noted above (see section
on investment screening), the code requires that at least 60 percent of
a company's payroll go to Togolese citizens. The code also requires
investors to give priority to the use of local services, when those
services are similar in quality and price to foreign services. A
company that does not meet the terms of the decree approving its
investment may lose its approval. If fraud is involved, the company may
have to repay the fiscal advantages previously granted.
6. Protection of Property Rights: Togo is a member of WIPO and of the
Cameroon-based African Industrial Property Organization. For specific
questions on IPR matters, please contact: Mr. Koakou Ata Kato, Chef de
Division Propriete Industrielle et Normalisation, Direction de
l'Industrie et de l'Artisanat, BP 831, Lome, Togo, Phone (228) 22-10-08
and Fax (228) 22-49-13.
7. Political Violence: Although there were incidents of political
violence 1991-1994, none were targeted against Americans, and few were
targeted against businesses. In January 1993, elements of the security
forces looted several downtown shops, primarily owned by Lebanese or
B. Bilateral Investment Agreements: The United States and Togo signed
a guaranty of private investments and an amity and economic relations
treaty in 1962. The Togolese government has, in the past, expressed an
interest in a bilateral investment treaty with the United States
government. Togo has signed many economic, commercial, cooperation and
cultural agreements with its foreign aid donor counties, including
France, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Japan.
C. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs: OPIC investment
insurance is available for American investors in Togo. OPIC has played
an active role in promoting foreign investment in Togo. It cosponsored
(with USAID) the visit of 15 potential investors to Togo in 1990, and it
has helped establish the Togolese investment promotion center. The
French government agency Coface provides investment insurance in Togo
under programs similar to those offered by OPIC. Investment insurance
is also available through the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
D. Labor: Three years of political instability and economic difficulty
have contributed to growing unemployment. There is a large pool of
qualified university graduates and unskilled workers, although there are
shortages of workers with intermediate technical skills and practical
experience. The adult literacy rate is about 36 percent. Most Togolese
speak French (the official language). There are a large number of
English speakers in Togo.
The minimum wage is FCFA 16,692 a month for industrial workers. There
are separate wage scales negotiated by employers, workers and the
government for industry, construction, public works, commerce, and
banking. Non-wage costs (e.g. Social security and medical costs) run
about 40 percent of wages.
In November 1990, Togo experienced its first strikes in two decades,
followed by many more affecting a variety of economic sectors. Most
strike activity subsided after the National Conference in 1991 as the
fiscal crisis facing the country grew more severe and it became
increasingly apparent that funds for higher wages were not available.
Togo's general strike in 1992-93 lasted eight months. The consequences
of this strike on Togo's economy were far-reaching. There have been no
strikes in the wake of the CFA franc devaluation in January 1994,
because of the national preoccupation with the ongoing political crisis.
As the political situation stabilizes, however, labor demands on the
government will grow in intensity and strike actions are possible.
E. Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports: Togo has had a free port for many
years. It serves as a transshipment facility for goods passing through
the port of Lome to neighboring countries.
In September 1989, the Togolese government approved an Export Processing
Zone (EPZ) law. Most foreign investment that will take place in Togo
will probably be under the EPZ law. The law allows duty-free imports
and exports, and ten year income tax holiday, reduced payroll taxes, a
ten year exemption from taxes on dividends paid to foreign shareholders,
and an exemption from the general business tax. It gives EPZ firms the
right to hire and fire workers freely, and to hold local foreign
currency-denominated accounts. It also provides for reduced electricity
and water rates.
The law stipulates that EPZ firms employ Togolese on a "priority basis",
and that after five years foreign workers not account for more than 20
percent of the total workforce and 20 percent of any professional
category. (Given the large difference between expatriate and local
salaries, the EPZ provisions limiting foreign workers to 20 percent of
the workforce is considerably less restrictive than the investment code
requirement that 60 percent of the payroll go to Togolese citizens.)
The EPZ law requires EPZ firms to export all of their output, although
the government may allow them to sell up to 20 percent of their output
The government set aside 35 and 72 hectare sites for the development of
the EPZ to be managed by private companies. Investors may locate
outside of those sites and still enjoy EPZ status. As of June 1995, 20
firms are operating in the EPZ.
F. Major Foreign Investors:
Mobil Oil: Petroleum products distribution. Mobil has 20 service
stations in Togo and has about a 30 percent market share. Total
estimated U.S. investment is FCFA 1.483 Billion.
Texaco: Petroleum products distribution. Texaco has 23 service
stations in Togo and has about 11 percent market share. Total estimated
U.S. investment is FCFA 1.04 Billion. Capital Is FCFA 173 Million.
There are also a very few individual U.S. citizens operating small
businesses in sectors such as import-export and retailing.
*Societe Togolaise De Produits Marins S.A. (STPM S.A.): Majority
French-owned seafood processor/exporter which sells fish, shrimp, and
lobster. Investment amount FCFA 430 Million.
*TOGOGRUS SARL: French-owned processor/exporter of seafood. Investment
amount FCFA 545 Million.
Societe Generale du Golfe De Guinee Togo (SGGG-Togo): General retail
commerce and import-export. Owned 60 percent by parent company SGGG-
France. Annual activity in 1985 valued at FCFA 15.8 Billion. Capital
FCFA 2.74 Billion.
Societe Generale Des Grands Moulins du Togo (SGMT): Flour mill.
Capital FCFA 1.1 Billion. 66 percent French-owned. Only flour mill in
CICA Togo: Distributor of Toyota and Mazda vehicles. Also involved in
household equipment and general trading. Capital FCFA 1.2 Billion.
Owned 70 percent by French Groupe Pinaut. Investment FCFA 145 Million.
Societe Togolaise Des Gaz Industriels (Togogaz): Fabrication and sale
of industrial and medical gasses and equipment. Capital FCFA 1.1
Billion. Owned 60 percent by French company Air Liquide.
SOCIMAT Togo: Construction materials distribution. Capital FCFA 58.5
Million. 75 percent French-owned.
UAC Togo: Import-export Company. Capital FCFA 853.2 Million. Owned 78
percent by French company UAC.
SATOM-Togo: Public works/construction company. Capital FCFA 5 Million.
Subsidiary of French company SATOM.
UDECTO: Construction and public works. Capital FCFA 160 Million.
Owned 73 percent by French company Campenon Benard.
Total Togo: Petroleum products distribution. Capital FCFA 135 Million.
Has 16 service stations in Togo and about 17 percent share of the
Nouvelle Industrie Des Oleagineux du Togo (NIOTO): Manufacture of
edible oils. Company bought two former government-owned oil plants
under the privatization program. NIOTO's initial capital of FCFA 1
Billion is owned principally by the French company CFDT (Compagnie
Francaise Pour Le Developpement Des Fibre Textiles).
Societe Ouest-Africaine D'Entreprises Maritimes Togo (SOAEM-Togo):
Maritime transport/transit agent. Capital FCFA 168 Million. Owned 65
percent by French company SAGA Transport.
SOCOPAO-Togo: Maritime transport/transit agent. Capital FCFA 180
Million. Owned 75 percent by French Company SCAC.
Banque Togolaise Pour Le Commerce et L'Industrie (BTCI): International
commercial bank. Capital of FCFA 1.5 Billion. Owned 30 percent by the
Banque Nationale De Paris and 25 percent by the Societe Financiere Pour
Les Pays D'Outre Mer (SFOM).
*GMC Euraf: A majority French-owned manufacturer of packing material.
Capital of FCFA 800 Million. It was the first company to begin
operations under the EPZ law.
DTG-Societe Allemande du Togo: Import/export, Mercedes Benz dealer, air
conditioner and motorcycle dealer. Has capital of FCFA 208 Million and
is 80 percent German-owned.
Bena Development/Marox: Agriculture and livestock raising,
delicatessen, restaurant. German family-owned business. Capital FCFA
Societe Togolaise De Boissons (STB): Soft drink producer. STB is 75
Percent German-owned with an investment of FCFA 1.1 Billion.
Brasserie du Benin: Beer brewery and soft drink processor with
distribution outlets throughout Togo. 60 percent German-owned;
estimated investment FCFA 10 Billion. Capital FCFA 2.5 Billion.
Hoechst Togo: Chemical and agricultural product sales. Compnay is 75
percent owned by Hoechst AG, Germany. Capital FCFA 5 Million.
Fanmilk: Danish dairy company Emedan has a long-term lease on former
government-owned dairy products company as part of the Government of
Togo's privatization program.
Societe Togolaise De Detergents (SODETO): Joint Danish investment with
Togolese private investor to buy former Government-owned detergent
factory, also under privatization program. Total capital of new company
is FCFA 380 Million, of which the Danish company Domo Kemi owns 51
Industrie Togolaise Des Plastiques (ITP): Joint investment by Danish
Company FMO, Danish development agency IFU and Dutch company Wavin in
capital increase and restructuring of plastics company. Total capital
of new company FCFA 735 Million.
*Atlantic Produce: exporter of tropical houseplants. Investment of
FCFA 260 million.
Societe Des Ciments du Togo (CIMTOGO): Cement production company owned
50 percent by Norwegian company NORCEM and 50 percent by Togolese
government. Total capital FCFA 240 Million.
Togotex: The company operates two privatized textile mills. It
produces African print cloth for the local market. Capital FCFA 2.25
*ITT CO. Sarl: Majority Ethiopian-owned manufacturer of automotive seat
covers and shoes. Investment of FCFA 103 Million.
*AMINA Togo S.A.: Producer of synthetic hair. Investment of FCFA 342
*SOFINA Sarl: Manufacturer of fishing nets and ropes. Investment of
FCFA 13 Million.
*NINA: Producer of synthetic hair. Investment of FCFA 115 million.
*SABECA Sarl: Italian-owned manufacturer of telephone cords.
Investment amount FCFA 200 Million.
*CRUSTAFRIC: Seafood processor/exporter. Investment of FCFA 540
*Boncomm International Togo: Indian-owned clothing manufacturer.
Exports to Europe and the United States. Initial capital FCFA 52
*UMCO Sarl: Belgian-owned manufacturer of leather watchbands and other
leather goods. Operates with investment of FCFA 32 Million.
Garage Hellel: BMW Dealer. Also local representative for Jeep
* EPZ Firms
VIII. Trade and Project Financing
A. The Banking System: Togo's banking sector is well-developed due to
its traditional reputation as a regional trading center. The most
important commercial banks are: Union Togolaise de Banque (UTB), Banque
Togolaise pour le Commerce et l'Industrie (BTCI), Ecobank-Togo, and the
Banque Togolaise de Developpement (BTD). All of Togo's major banks have
correspondant relationships with U.S. banks.
The Togolese banks have generally been in better financial condition
than their counterparts in other CFA zone countries. The long general
strike in 1992-93 and attendant drop in commercial activity, however,
has affected the banks negatively. The central bank tightened controls
on capital outflows not directly tied to business transactions in 1991,
but transfers for business-related purposes are still routinely granted.
Togo uses the CFA franc, which is fixed at a rate of FCFA 100/French
B. Foreign Exchange Controls: There are no restrictions on the
transfer of funds to other West African franc zone countries or to
France. The transfer of more than FCFA 50,000 (about $100) outside the
franc zone requires Finance Ministry approval. Approvals are routinely
granted for foreign companies and individuals, although it often takes
as long as a week rather than the two days stipulated by law. There is
little outward direct investment from Togo, and the government does not
C. Available Export Financing and Insurance: OPIC investment insurance
is available for American investors in Togo. OPIC has, in the past,
played an active role in promoting foreign investment in Togo. It
cosponsored (with USAID) the visit of 15 potential investors to Togo in
1990, and it helped establish the Togolese investment promotion center.
EXIMBank services are available for Togo. The French government agency
COFACE provides investment insurance in Togo under programs similar to
those offered by OPIC. Investment insurance is also available through
the Multilateral Investment Gurantee Agency (MIGA).
D. Project Financing Available: Multilateral institutions involved in
funding projects in Togo include the African Development Bank (AFDB),
the ECOWAS fund, the West African Development Bank, and the World Bank.
Current or planned World Bank projects include $40 million for
transportation rehabilitation, $15 million for cotton development, $16
million for telecommunications, $15 million for power rehabilitation
and extension, and $26 million for Lome urban development. Current or
planned AFDB projects include Mono River agricultural development, Lome
sanitation improvement, and electric grid improvements. The regional
Foreign Commercial Service office in Abidjan maintains an updated list
of AFDB projects.
E. Banks With Correspondant U.S. Banking Arrangements:
Union Togolaise De Banque
Lamseh Alexis Looky, Directeur General
Fax: (228) 21-22-06
Banque Togolaise De Commerce et De L'Industrie
Kodzo Osseyi, Directeur General
169 Boulevard du 13 Janvier
Fax: (228) 21-32-65
Banque Togolaise De Developpement
Mensavi Mensah, Directeur General
Telex: Lome No. 5282
Fax: (228) 21-44-56
Banque Internationale De L'Afrique Occidentale
Kossi Paass, Directeur General
13 Rue du Commerce
Fax: (228) 21-10-19
Amin Uddin, Directeur General
20 Rue du Commerce
Fax: (228) 21-42-37
IX. Business Travel
A. Business Customs: Doing business in Togo is similar to doing
business in other developing countries. The personal touch is often
necessary. Official corruption in Togo was formerly much less prevalent
than in many other African countries, but four years of economic
difficulty has seen an increase in requests for bribes and "gifts" in
order to get business done.
B. Travel Advisory and Visas: U.S. citizens do not need a visa to
enter the country for stays of under 3 months. Innoculation against
yellow fever is required unless the traveler is arriving from a
noninfected area and is staying in Togo less than 2 weeks. Malaria is a
risk. In addition, due to the often rapidly-changing political and
security environment in Togo, visitors are encouraged to register with
the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy upon arrival.
Jan 1 - New Year's Day
Jan 13 - Togo National Liberation Day
Jan 24 - Economic Liberation Day
Mar (TBA) - End of Ramadan
Apr (TBA) - Easter Monday
Apr 27 - National Independence Day
May 1 - Labor Day
May (TBA) - Ascension Day
May (TBA) - Pentecost
June (TBA) - Tabaski
June 21 - Martyr's day
Aug (TBA) - Assumption
Nov 1 - All Saint's Day
Dec 25 - Christmas Day
(Note: Business travelers should be advised that the Togolese
government frequently does not announce observance of holidays until the
last minute. End note.)
D. Business Infrastructure:
Transportation--Air travel is the best way to get to Lome, which has
daily international flights to and from Europe and major West African
cities. There are paved roads to the Burkina Faso, Benin, and Ghana
capitals and taxis are available. Uncertain road conditions and border
difficulties can complicate cross-border automobile travel to Burkina,
Ghana, and Benin other than via the direct road from Lome to the
capitals. Taxis are available in Lome and other urban areas.
Telecommunications--Voice and fax telecommunication improved
dramatically when a new satellite ground station came into service in
1981. It is now possible to directly dial many countries (including the
U.S.) from Togo.
Hotels and Restaurants--Lome has several international standard hotels
including the Hotel 2 Fevrier, the Hotel Le Benin, the Hotel Palm Beach,
and the Hotel Sarakawa. There are also many excellent restaurants.
Health--Avoid tap water and unwashed fruits and vegetables. Local
medical services are limited.
A. Country Data:
Population: 3.9 million
Population Growth Rate: 3.1 Percent
Religions: Animist, Christian, and Muslim
Government System: Multi-party Republic
Languages: French, numerous local languages
Work Week: Monday through Friday (Most businesses close from 12:30 to
3:00pm for lunch break.)
B. Domestic Economy: (in US$ millions)
1994 1995 1996(Est)
GDP 981 1230 1348
GDP Per Capita (US$) 252 306 324
Inflation 40% 9.7% n/a
Ave. Exch. Rate* CFA550/$ CFA500/$ n/a
(* The CFA Franc was devalued 50 percent against the French Franc in
C. Trade: (is US$ millions)
1994 1995 1996(Est)
Total Country Exports 253.6 313.4 379.3
Total Country Imports 238.0 274.6 309.2
U.S. Exports 12.4 n/a n/a
U.S. Imports 4.1 n/a n/a
D. U.S. And Country Contacts
1. Chamber of Commerce
Kwame Michel Meyisso, Secretaire General
Angle Ave. De La Presidence, Ave. Pompidou
(228) 21-20-65, 21-70-65, 21-47-30
Fax: (228) 21-47-30
2. For a list of commercial banks, please see section VIII E.
3. Banque Ouest Africaine de Developpement (BOAD)
Boni Yayi, President
(228) 21-14-97, 21-42-44, 21-59-06
Fax: (228) 21-52-67
Samuel Apea, Director
Fax: (228) 21-86-84
4. U.S. Embassy
Economic/commercial Officer: Whitney Young Baird
Commercial Assistant: Amen Lawson
Fax: (228) 21-79-52
5. Washington Contacts
Dept. of State Togo Desk: Richard Appleton
Dept. Of Commerce: Debra Henke Rogers
Multilateral Development Bank Office
Brenda Ebeling, Director
14th and Constitution, NW
Washington, DC 20007
Fax: (202) 482-5179
TPCC Trade Information Center in Washington, DC
US Department of Agriculture, Foreign Agricultural
Service, Trade Assistance and Promotion Office
To the top of this page