Country Profiles

Algeria

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Algeria is currently the largest country in Africa (as Sudan splits into two countries) and the Arab World with a total landmass of 2.38m sq km. The country is rich in natural resources. Algeria has the tenth-largest reserves of natural gas in the world and is the sixth-largest gas exporter. It ranks 16th in oil reserves. Thanks to strong hydrocarbon revenues, Algeria has a cushion of $173 billion in foreign currency reserves and a large hydrocarbon stabilization fund. In addition, Algeria's external debt is extremely low at about 2% of GDP. Algeria is still largely unexplored and foreign firms are increasingly investing in joint ventures.
The government is putting a lot of efforts to diversify the economy by attracting foreign and domestic investment outside the energy sector. Public spending has increased by 27% annually during the past five years. Long-term economic challenges include diversification from hydrocarbons, relaxing state control of the economy, and providing adequate jobs for younger Algerians. The government launched an investment plan (2010-14), a $286 Billion program for major infrastructure programs in construction, transport, housing, telecoms, alternative energies and healthcare sectors.

Botswana

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Background:
• Botswana enjoyed one of the fastest growth rates in per capita income in the world from independence in 1966 until 2006 and maintained a positive growth rate during the financial crisis
• Doing Business 2012 ranking is 3rd in Africa and 52nd of 183 countries globally
• Economy is the 33rd freest in the 2012 index of Economic Freedom
• Ranked number 1 in Africa by Transparency International

Business Climate:
• A fiscally responsible and financially prudent government
• A good transportation and communications infrastructure through the sensible use of diamond revenue
• Respect for the rule of law and the ability to use the courts to enforce contracts
• Good inflation control and no evidence of significant food or fuel price shocks on the horizon
• A culture of intolerance for corruption and a commitment to ethical practices by major businesses
• Government assistance for business including thru Botswana Export Development and Investment Authority

No Foreign Exchange Controls:
• No foreign exchange controls
• Full repatriation of profits, investments, and capital gains
• Free of withholding taxes.

Tax Incentives:
• Low corporate tax of 25%
• Corporate tax of 15% for manufacturing and financial services sectors until 2020 (compared to 35% in other African countries)
• Tax holidays, industrial rebate concession, duty free importation of raw materials, machinery, and equipment
• Exemption from withholding taxes
• Credits for withholding taxes in other jurisdictions
• Access to double taxation treaties
• Tax exemptions for collective investment undertakings

Market Access Opportunities:
• Southern African Customs Union, (SACU):
o Botswana goods and services have duty and quota free access to markets in South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland, and Lesotho, a combined population of about 48 million people.
• Southern African Development Community, (SADC):
o Consists of 14 countries of about 277 million people.
o Membership offers further market access opportunities through the SADC Protocol on Trade
o Eliminates trade barriers among member states.
• Contonou Agreement and the African Growth Opportunities Act (AGOA):
o Select Botswana exports such as glass products and textiles admitted duty free to the US and EU

Flexible Financing Options:
• One of the most highly developed financial sectors in Africa
• A range of private and government-backed financial institutions that can provide overdraft facilities, equity capital, and loans to both foreign and domestic investors
• Local financial institutions such as the Botswana Development Corporation, the Venture Capital Fund, and the National Development Bank support industry development and can finance viable business proposals

A readily trainable, English-speaking, and educated labor force:
• Employment regulations are moderately flexible
• The non-salary cost of hiring a worker is relatively low.

Electricity Prices:
• Small firms: $0.06/kWh, although expected to increase by 15%
• Medium firms: $0.03/kWh
• Large Firms: $0.3/kWh, although prices will increase by as much as 30% for medium and large businesses

Other Relevant Statistics:
Time to enforce contracts: 625 days Starting a Business: 61 days
Registering Property: 16 days Dealing with Construction Permits: 145 days
Getting Electricity: 121 Days Cost to Export: $3,185
Cost to Import: $3,420 Resolving Insolvency: 1.7 years

Cameroon

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Cameroon is the largest economy in the six-nation Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CEMAC). Population stands over 19.1 million and GDP (ppp) for 2010 is estimated at $41.9 billion. It is projected to grow 2.2 % in 2012. GPD by sectors indicates agriculture: 19.7%, industry: 31.4% and services: 48.9% (2011 est.) Cameroon boasts one of the highest per capita incomes (by ppp) in sub-Saharan Africa, at $2,300 (2010). The official unemployment rate is 4.5% albeit other sources put it as high as 75%. Inflation for 2010 stood at 3.0. FDI inflows stood at $425 million in 2010.

Cameroon’s natural and human resources wealth includes its rich agricultural potential, forestry, mining, an ample labor force, and an enviable location between large markets in Nigeria to the west and Central African Economic zone to the south and east. Cameroon is often described as “Africa in Miniature” because of its unparalleled ethnic, linguistic, and geographic diversity.

The Bank of Central African States (BEAC) sets monetary policy for Cameroon and other CEMAC members. The country’s currency, the Franc Communauté Financiere Africaine (FCFA), is managed by BEAC and conversion is guaranteed at a flat exchange rate of 655.957 FCFA to the Euro by the Treasury of the Government of France.

Cameroon’s major exports are oil, timber, minerals and cash crops such as cocoa, coffee, rubber, cotton, and bananas. Cameroon imports mainly semi-processed products, industrial inputs, machinery, and food products. The European Union is Cameroon’s main trading partner with about 60 percent trade share. France leads export trade. The advent of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), boosts U.S.-Cameroon trade albeit real potential benefits remain under-realized. Overall U.S.-Cameroon trade rose 20 percent from 2010 to 2011 and American exports to Cameroon are up more than 75 percent over same period.

A committee commissioned by the Government of Cameroon in May 2007 ranked the United States the largest single foreign investor in Cameroon, in large part due to the substantial American equity in the Chad-Cameroon pipeline and power projects. There are several large American investment projects underway in mining and energy.

Yaounde is the nation’s political capital, but Douala, the largest city, serves as the economic capital of Cameroon and the Central African region. Almost all cargo shipped to landlocked Chad, and the Central African Republic transit through Douala’s port, located slightly inland from the Gulf of Guinea, on the banks of the Wouri River. Cameroon is well-served by mobile service providers and access to the broadband Internet is available in the major cities, although problems with capacity often hamper services.

Egypt

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With a population of over 82 million, the Egyptian economy is one of the largest in the Arab World, and the second largest in the Middle East and North Africa. Egypt has been undertaking a comprehensive economic reform and stabilization program aimed primarily at generating high and sustainable growth rates, alleviating poverty, improving the standards of living, reducing unemployment and achieving financial and monetary stability.

Despite the transitional period that Egypt is going through, Egypt possesses the fundamentals to become a business hub in North Africa and the Middle East: great geographic location linking two continents, and abundance in young skilled human resources.

The United States is Egypt’s largest bilateral trading partner, and Egypt is the fourth largest export market for U.S. products, and services in the Middle East. In 2010, the bilateral trade exceeded $7 billion. Egypt is a significant importer of American agricultural commodities, machinery, and equipment. U.S. firms will find business opportunities in energy, transportation, healthcare, IT & telecommunications, and agribusiness. Tourism, as the largest earner of foreign exchange and employer of more than 10% of Egyptian workers, also offers strong possibilities. Expansions among the Red Sea resorts provide increasing opportunities for exporters of hotel equipment and environmental management services. Airports and other infrastructure being built to serve the new resorts also offer excellent prospects for U.S. exporters and investors. Tourism along the Red Sea coast continues to grow, and the government is advocating development along the Mediterranean coast we well. These opportunities continue to attract U.S. project management expertise, building systems and equipment.

Ghana

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  • First African country to get independence (1957)
  • Arguably best functioning democracy on the continent.
  • Increasingly headquarters location of choice for international companies operating in West Africa (moving from neighboring countries with worsening living or political conditions). Gateway to sub-regional market nearly as big as the United States in population terms.
  • 12th fastest growing economy in 2009. Predicted by some (including Reuters) to be fastest growing economy in the world in 2011.
  • Steady growth of circa 5-7% for more than a decade.
  • Named by World Bank in 2010 as one of the top ten countries in the world in terms of improved ease of doing business.
  • 30% increase in U.S. exports in first half of 2010 vs. 2009. Pro-American, strong interest in U.S. products.
  • Population of 24 million. Christian majority with substantial Muslim minority. Very few ethnic tensions.
  • Called by some the ‘Irish of Africa’ – Ghanaians known for their peaceful, friendly attitude and polite culture.
  • Recent economic growth is moving economy, infrastructure steadily upwards, but from a low base. Per capita annual GDP still $1500.
  • Commercially viable oil (with associated gas) discovered offshore in June 2007.
  • First oil production began December 2010, first field is Jubilee Field (consortium of Anadarko, Kosmos and Tullow). Tullow is operator.
  • Other U.S. oil/gas companies in Ghana: Vanco, Hess, Schlumberger, Baker Hughes and Halliburton.
  • Commercial courts slow in rendering judgments and enforcement poor so payment up front/letter of credit best option if dealing with private company and international arbitration clause important if dealing with government of Ghana.
  • FCPA constant issue – important that U.S. companies remember FCPA laws.
  • Fraud also a problem, important to check all potential partners with Commercial Service prior to signing a contract or sending money.

India

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India’s projected growth of 8.6% in fiscal year 2010 (ending in March), its openness to trade, and a growing dynamism across its massive regional markets have created wide and diverse business opportunities for U.S. exporters and investors. A net-importing nation, India remains one of the largest, fastest growing, and strongest sustainable economies in the world. U.S. multinationals are sold on India and are expanding and deepening their market penetration. U.S. firms with advanced and niche-market products and services are identifying capable and aggressive representatives. Many smaller American firms have begun to view India as a top anchor market for their products and services now and into the future.

Economic growth in India today is being rewritten by India’s highly entrepreneurial and rapidly globalizing private sector. Indian firms are investing in infrastructure projects, growing their advanced manufacturing capabilities, and developing new volume-based business models that tap into rising incomes and consumption in towns and rural economies across the country. Whether it is consumer goods and services, high technology and industrial goods, healthcare, or infrastructure development, Indian firms are bullish about their economy and are eager for U.S. commercial partnerships, technologies, brands, services, and know-how.

The pace of the America’s trade and investment relationship with India is accelerating. U.S. exports to India, which had more than doubled over the previous 5-year period (2004-2009), grew an additional 17% in 2010 (through November) and are on pace to surpass $19 billion for the first time in the history of our trade relationship. Advanced technologies, including aerospace, specialized materials, information and communications technologies, electronics and flexible manufacturing systems have underpinned this growth. Indian exports to the United States have also surpassed their previous pinnacle, putting us on the cusp of an historic $50 billion trade relationship, and helping India climb the charts to become America’s 12th largest trading partner.

In terms of long-range economic forecasts, some major consultancies project that more than 400 million people, a full 40% of the population, will enter India’s middle class over the next 15 to 20 years. One noted firm expects India to have and sustain the fastest growth rate in the world by 2011. Another believes that India will become the 3rd largest economy in the world in 2032. India’s “demographic dividend” (71% of the population is under the age of 35, and the median age is 25) will ensure that the country retains strong production and knowledge-based competitiveness for many years to come.

India has begun to play an important role as a leading market for President Obama’s National Export Initiative (NEI), which aims to double U.S. exports over the next five years. However, though opportunities for U.S. companies are vast and immense, market complexities and business challenges abound. The Commercial Service, which has a large geographic footprint across seven cities in India, leads an interagency export promotion team at the U.S. Embassy that is actively implementing the NEI on the ground and is ready to assist U.S. firms across a range of sectors including, but not limited to, medical equipment, renewable energy, civil nuclear energy, clean coal, energy efficiency, civil aviation, homeland security, education, retail, and franchising.

Iraq

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Iraq's economy is dominated by the oil sector, which provides about 90 percent of Iraqi government revenue and accounted for 46% of Iraq’s 2010 GDP. Iraq boasts the world’s 3rd largest proven recoverable oil reserves, and it could supply one-third of expected 2012 world demand increase. Despite oil’s importance, however, the Iraqi Government has yet to pass and implement laws to strengthen the economy, including a long-awaited hydrocarbon law to encourage development of this sector. Controlling inflation, reducing corruption, establishing a transparent legal system, and implementing structural reforms such as bank restructuring and private sector development will be key to Iraq's economic growth.

The United Nations imposed economic sanctions on Iraq after it invaded Kuwait in 1990. Under the Oil-For-Food program, Iraq was allowed to export oil and use the proceeds to purchase goods to address essential civilian needs, including food, medicine, and infrastructure spare parts. With the lifting of U.N. sanctions after the Ba'ath regime was removed in 2003, Iraq is gradually resuming trade relations with the international community, including the United States. The United States designated Iraq as a beneficiary developing country under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program in September 2004. Iraq was granted observer status at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in February 2004.

The U.S. military has ceased operations in Iraq, withdrawing all of the remaining U.S. troops in December 2011. On November 30, 2011, the U.S. and Iraq announced in a joint statement that this new phase in our relationship in which trade will play an increasingly important role. The bi-lateral agreement underpinning our economic cooperation is the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA), signed in 2008. Under the SFA, the U.S. and Iraq seek to advance our trade relationship in energy, project finance, and improving the business environment in Iraq.

While the security situation and business environment remain extremely challenging in much of the country, there has been significant progress in parts of the northern Kurdish region. Erbil, for example, is being increasingly regarded by many foreign companies as not only a growing market in its own right, but also a secure and pro-business gateway into the rest of Iraq. Besides the huge oil and gas sector, U.S. companies will also find opportunities in agriculture, infrastructure development, construction, education and training, information and communications technology, water treatment and management, power generation, and transportation sectors.

If Iraq makes progress on increasing security, establishing a viable political system, and developing a more pro-business environment, then U.S. companies will be able to take advantage of significant business opportunities. Iraq’s existing capital, vast infrastructure and development needs, and decades-old, pent-up demand for many types of consumer products and services mean that its market holds, and will continue to hold, vast potential for a wide range of American products and services.

Israel

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Capital: Jerusalem

Commercial Center: Tel Aviv

Population: 7,825,600 (approx., est. 2011, a bit more than the population of California’s Bay Area)

Land area: 20,300 Sq Km (approx., about the same as California’s Bay Area)

Per capita GDP: $32,297 (approx., est. 2011)

Israel’s economy has recently been particularly recognized for stability, ranking according to one well respected source as the world's most durable economy in the face of the global economic crises in 2008. Furthermore, with the publication of the book, Start Up Nation, in 2009, Israel was widely recognized as perhaps the world’s most technologically innovative society. In 2011, with a population that is only the world’s 97th greatest, Israel had the 50th-highest GDP at $235.4 billion and 28th-highest GDP per capita (at purchasing power parity) at $31,000, which increased by approximately 4% in 2011.

Israel has an open economy and offers good business opportunities for U.S. companies. For example, road technology and infrastructure projects will offer millions of dollars’ worth of export opportunities for U.S. firms over the next five years, particularly because Israel has adopted U.S. standards in intelligent transportation systems. In addition, hi-tech continues to provide opportunities for U.S.-Israel commercial partnerships, specifically in ICT, safety and security equipment and services, natural gas and renewable energy technologies, defense equipment, medical technologies and biotechnology products. Power generation and education/training also represent other good opportunities.

The U.S. is Israel’s single largest trading partner. Israel’s chief imports from the U.S. include civilian aircraft parts, civilian aircraft, telecommunications equipment, computer parts, semiconductors, and electrical devices. Israel’s chief exports to the U.S. include diamonds, medicinal devices, and cotton apparel.

Israel has become a global leader in water conservation and geothermal energy, and its development of cutting-edge technologies in software, communications and the life sciences have evoked comparisons with Silicon Valley, CA. Intel and Microsoft built their first overseas research and development centers in Israel, and other high-tech multi-national corporations, such as IBM, Cisco Systems, Motorola, GE, 3M and GM have opened research facilities in the country as well.

In the last year, the world’s largest discoveries of natural gas in the past decade have been found off the coast of Israel. With these discoveries, estimated to be worth more than $95 billion, Israel may very well become a natural gas exporting nation. These exciting new possibilities offer US companies billions of export opportunities as well.

Jordan

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Population: 6.5 million
Capital: Amman Prime Minister: Awn Khasawneh
Government: Constitutional monarchy

Economy

2009 Nominal GDP (Current US$ billion):$29,964
2009 Nominal GDP Per Capita (Current US$): $4,788

2011 Real GDP Growth Rate: 3.2%
2011 Real GDP Per Capita Growth Rate: 0.9%
2011 Unemployment Rate: 12.5 %

Foreign Merchandise Trade (U.S.$ billions)

2010 Jordan Exports to World: $7.33 billion
2010 Jordan Imports from World: $13billion
2010 U.S. Exports to Jordan: $1.2 billion
2010 U.S. Imports from Jordan: $1 billion
2010 U.S. Trade Balance with Jordan: $200,000

Rank of Jordan as U.S. Export Market in 2010: 74th Largest (0.09% of U.S. exports).
Principal U.S. Exports to Jordan in 2010: Vehicles (34%); Aircraft (9%); Cereals (8%); Machinery (9%).
Principal U.S. Imports from Jordan in 2010: Knit Apparel (54%); Woven Apparel (24%).

Market Overview: Jordan is a market of 6.5 million people located in the heart of the Levant region and Capital is Amman. The Hashemite Kingdom is only one of two Arab countries to have made peace with Israel and is the only Arab country to sign a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the United States. The friendship between Jordan and the U.S. is symbolized by the U.S. –Jordan Free Trade Agreement which has been in full effect since January 2010. A full 99 percent of all products traded between Jordan and the U.S. are exempt from tariffs. FTA benefits have resulted in increased trade between the U.S. and Jordan of 600 percent over ten years. In 2010, bilateral trade between the two countries was $2.2 billion up slightly from 2009.

Regionally, and particularly during the Arab Spring, Jordan has been a haven of stability for business and international investment. Jordan has strong, cooperative relations with its neighbors and the wider international business community. Increasingly Jordan is becoming a regional hub for trade and business investment to neighboring countries including Iraq U.S. companies are developing models for entry into the Iraq market using Jordan as a platform. Jordan has scheduled an election for 2012 but has seen three government changes in the last two years.

Exporting Trends in Jordan: Trade in 2011 is up over trade figures for the first nine months of 2010. Jordan is looking to generate clean, renewable energy. Jordan’s “National Energy Strategy” offers incentives for U.S. companies to invest in renewable energy projects in both wind and solar. The U.S. share of Jordan’s $40 million market for renewable energy equipment and services is currently only five percent. Jordan imports 97 percent of its energy needs which has created opportunities in power generation, renewable energy, and oil shale development. Developing a solution of energy options improves reliability and creates energy security for Jordan during a time of unrest in the region.

Another promising sector is Jordan’s ICT sector generating 14 percent of Jordan’s GDP. Opportunities abound in outsourcing, e-government, e-health services and Arab content. There are opportunities for U.S. companies in healthcare including medical tourism, automotive parts, safety & security, defense, and most services. Jordan will receive up to $275 million from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) over the next five years beginning in 2012 for three water projects.

Jordan Upcoming Events: The Special Operations Forces Conference and Exhibitions (SOFEX) is one of the leading Special Operations and Homeland Security events worldwide that take place in Amman every other year. SOFEX in the only certified event held in Jordan by the U.S. Department of Commerce and is considered a major show for U.S. companies working in the Defense industry. The U.S. Pavilion at SOFEX has been the largest national pavilion for the last three exhibitions. In 2012, AUSA will be organizing the U.S. pavilion in a repeat of 2010. CS Jordan offers full support to U.S. exhibitors at SOFEX and organizes an evening reception for all U.S. participants at the U.S. Ambassador’s residence. This year, SOFEX will be held from May 7-10, 2012. For details on SOFEX: www.sofexjordan.com

Kenya

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  • Former British colony, English speaking; democratic state which gained independence in 1963.
  • Estimated population of 40 million; GDP of US$32.4 billion and growth rate 5.2% in 2010.
  • With total import estimates in 2010 of US$10.4 billion, Kenya is the economic, commercial, and logistical hub of East Africa with a high potential for U.S. exports. Moreover, Kenya is home to 100-plus U.S. companies and affiliates and the natural gateway to opportunities in the East African region. Best prospect sectors include: Telecommunication Equipment, Electrical Power Systems, Agricultural Chemicals, Construction Equipment, Computers and Peripherals
  • Early 2008, post-election violence negatively impacted on growth and affected tourism and agriculture resulting in 1.7% GDP growth however GDP has rebounded and should exceed 5% in 2011 and 2012.
  • Tea is the largest foreign exchange earner with receipts of US$1.2billion in 2010, followed by tourism and horticulture; growth in services is on the rise as the economy transforms from a manufacturing base with opportunities in education, consultancy, communication services, tourism, and hospitality industries.
  • Challenges: IPR infringement, ethnic conflicts, corruption, relatively high levels of bureaucracy in government services and procurement procedures, enhanced uneven competition from China, high shipment costs from the States, and an over-reliance on a cash economy by Kenya’s business community.
  • Kenya’s new economic development blueprint, Vision 2030, aims to produce annual economic growth rate of 10% by the year 2030 and its first five-year plan (2008-2012) targets investments in tourism, agriculture, manufacturing, trade, information technology, and financial services.
  • Key to the realization of Vision 2030 is the energy sector: To achieve a 10% growth rate, Kenya needs affordable and reliable electricity. Current government initiatives in the power generation, transmission and distribution subsectors are aimed at developing renewable energy sources such as geothermal, wind, solar, biomass and co-generation.
  • Kenya’s geothermal potential is estimated at 4000MW but initial investment costs have slowed development with only 200MW being generated. U.S. investor, Ormat has a facility generating 48MW in Olkaria.
  • Kenya has a wind energy potential of 7000MW but currently only 5MW is being generated. However, this is set to change as several wind projects are at various stages of implementation, including 300MW being developed by a foreign investor, the largest wind plant in Africa.

Kuwait

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Population:3.4 million
Exports to U.S: USD 5.3 billion
Imports from U.S: USD 2.8 billion
GDP: USD 115 billion
Kuwait Exports: USD 50 billion
Per Capita Income: USD 33,000/year

Market Summary
Kuwait lies at the northern end of the Arabian (or Persian) Gulf between Saudi Arabia and Iraq and less than 100 miles from Iran at the closet point. Petroleum dominates the Kuwaiti economy, totaling around 90% of government income and 95% of export revenues. Kuwait has nearly 9% of the world’s known oil reserves. The non-petroleum related manufacturing and agriculture sectors are limited, consisting of a switch gear manufacturer for power sub stations and factories for building materials, furniture, and food packaging. The 2003 ouster of Saddam Hussein in Iraq stimulated local confidence in Kuwait’s economy and security situation. In 2010, Kuwait’s parliament passed a four-year $104 billion development plan that strives to update Kuwait’s infrastructure and diversify the economy away from oil. Unlike Kuwait’s Gulf neighbors, government-funded major projects here move slowly. Kuwait traditionally under estimates budget revenues and overestimates expenditures, and is likely to achieve a budget surplus for the 12th straight year.

Kuwait imports most of its capital equipment, processed foods manufacturing equipment, and consumer goods. Two-way trade is limited to few international partners. A high percentage of imports originate from the U.S., Germany and Japan, while over 40% of Kuwait’s export earnings is attributable to Japan, Korea, and the U.S. The U.S. remains a leading and strategic partner of Kuwait. With high oil prices and the third highest per capita income in the GCC (after Qatar and UAE) at over $33,000 per year as of 2009, Kuwait’s imports from the U.S. continue to grow, as they have over the past 5 years. Additionally, as Kuwaitis frequently travel to the U.S. (and have studied in the U.S.), Americans and their products receive one of the warmest welcomes in the Middle East in this small economic powerhouse. Although Kuwaitis are extremely price-conscious, they are also avid consumers. While Chinese and Indian goods increasingly dominate low-end imports, U.S. exports are competitive in Kuwait.

Transportation equipment, including automobiles, auto parts, and accessories accounted for 1/3 of the USD 2.8 billion in American exports last year. The Kuwait Oil Company and petrochemical complex, KPNC, plan to spend several billion dollars in order to increase crude oil output capacity from 3 million barrels per day to 4 million barrels per day by 2020 and add refining capability. U.S. made high-end medical equipment has promise, as private clinics and hospitals proliferate and the Health Ministry seeks foreign expertise to manage some of its public hospitals. Electric generator sets, building materials and supplies, aircraft and parts, and information technology offer promise, as infrastructure development in general lags behind Kuwait’s economic prosperity. Some new commercial, residential, and hotel complexes utilize modern architecture combining the best of the west and traditional Arab styles. The U.S. is also a preferred destination for university study and medical treatment. The U.S. Embassy’s Foreign Commercial Service in Kuwait supports food, medical, aviation, defense, oil and gas, and environmental shows in the Arabian Gulf Region. The Kuwait team takes about 6 buyers groups per year to U.S. trade shows, including Offshore Technology (OTC), the SEMA/AAIW auto show, PowerGen, and various builders, concrete and Green build shows each year. Popular services include providing company specific information on local businesses (International Company Profiles) and customized appointments for U.S. exporters, known as the Gold or Platinum Key Service. The Kuwait team looks forward to promoting your product in this small country with large purchasing power.

Lebanon

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Lebanon’s economy is based on laissez-faire philosophy. An overwhelming majority of the economy is dollarized. The country has very few restrictions on the movement of capital across its borders. Foreign investors are allowed to manage and hold business and private assets without any restrictions, and the Lebanese Government does not require investors to engage in any particular sector or project. The Lebanese Government’s intervention in foreign trade is minimal. Since 1999, Lebanon has observer status at the WTO, and is preparing for full membership in 2009. Lebanon, with a population of 3.8 million, is the 68th largest market for U.S. exports. During the first nine months of 2008, the United States exported $1.1 billion worth of goods to Lebanon, representing a year-on-year increase of 81percent. In 2008, the top five U.S. exports to Lebanon were vehicles, mineral fuel and oil, machinery, agricultural commodities, and medical instruments.

Libya

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Population: 6.561 million
Capital: Tripoli
Government: Transitional

Head of Government: Abdurrahim al-Keeb (Prime Minister)
2010 nominal GDP (Current US$ billions): 77.336*
2010 nominal GDP per capita (Current US$): 10,872*

2010 U.S. Exports to Libya ($ billions) .665
2010 U.S. Imports from Libya ($ billions) 2.117

  • Rank of Libya as U.S. Export Market in 2010: 84th Largest (0.06% of U.S. exports)
  • Rank of Libya among U.S. Imports in 2010: 65h Largest (0.11% of U.S. import)
  • Principal U.S. Exports to Libya in 2010: Non-Railway Vehicles (26.21%); Machinery, Reactors, Boilers (25.53%); Cereals (10.05%); Optical, Medical instruments (8.25%); Electrical Machinery (5.38%)
  • Principal U.S. Imports from Libya in 2010: Oil (97.99%), Fertilizer (1.41%), Inorg chemicals/Rare earths metals (0.33%)

Libya is a country with a small population (6.561 million) relative to its vast size. Despite of the country’s Mediterranean location, enormous natural resources and over 2000 km coast on the Mediterranean with a wonderful collection of ancient historical sites, Libya’s economy has been highly centralized and dominated by the energy sector. The economy depends primarily upon revenues from the oil sector, which contribute about 90% of export earnings, about one-quarter of GDP, and 60% of public sector wages. Libya's oil industry was controlled by the state-owned National Oil Corporation (NOC) and the country oil production capacity reached 1.7 million barrels per day before the uprising on Feb 17 2011.
With the transitional period that Libya is going through, there are some challenges facing new Libya such as recovering frozen assets, resolving the liquidity crisis, and finalizing the 2012 budget. In addition to these economic priorities, security is still the major challenge to the new government.
On the other side of the coin, the Libyan market is expected to be promising and highly competitive. Emerging from two decades of international sanctions, the neglect of the ex- government in developing the county for over 40 years in addition to the damage of infrastructure caused by the fierce fighting during the uprising, Libya needs extensive infrastructure development in almost every sector of the economy and region of the country. Many large contracts have yet to be awarded and identified by the new government such as repairs to existing infrastructure, training, and healthcare which considered three top priorities and will definitely attract many U.S. and international firms.
The Libyan private sector that was also abandoned by the old regime is proactive and not sitting idle. There are at least four organizations representing the private sector in Libya now, in addition to many young entrepreneurs and Libyans businesspeople who recently returned from abroad These organizations and returnees present good opportunities of partnership for many U.S. and international firms looking forward to participate in developing new Libya.

Morocco

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Strategically located along the Strait of Gibraltar just a seven-hour flight from JFK and three hours from Paris, Morocco is seen more and more as a regional hub in North Africa for transportation and business. Morocco’s moderate Mediterranean climate on 2,750 miles (3,500 km) of coastline and its developing infrastructure make it an attractive location for business and leisure. Morocco’s Association Agreement and Advanced Status with the European Union (EU) have spurred manufacturing development in Morocco, an activity that has also been heightened by the FTA. Morocco will rely on these key trade agreements to stimulate economic growth and to foster the job creation necessary to facilitate social and educational reform. The U.S.-Moroccan Free Trade Agreement (FTA) is one of the most comprehensive free trade agreements that the U.S. has ever negotiated. Morocco is the second Arab and first African nation to have an FTA with the U.S. The FTA will provide U.S. exporters increased access to the Moroccan market by eliminating tariffs on 95 percent of currently traded consumer and industrial goods. It will also level the playing field with European competition and provide enhanced protection for U.S. Intellectual property. Moroccan officials anticipate that the FTA will be a catalyst to accelerate and reinforce the country’s economic reform process by allowing greater competition and the formation of international partnerships in key sectors such as insurance and banking, and by greatly liberalizing the Moroccan textile and agricultural tariff structures.

Nigeria

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Ranking among Africa’s largest consumer markets, third after Egypt and South Africa, Nigeria is the continent’s most populous country, accounting for approximately one-sixth of its people. It is arguably one of the most culturally diverse societies in the world, with about 250 ethnic groups among its 150 million people.

Nigeria aspires to be one of the largest 20 economies by the year 2020. Toward this end, the country is liberalizing its economy, promoting public-private partnership and encouraging strategic alliances with foreign firms. As a gateway to fifteen smaller West African countries and a net importer, Nigeria can be a very rewarding market for U.S. companies that take the time and effort to understand its market conditions and opportunities, find the right partners and clients, and take a long-term approach to market development. With strong growth prospects in many industry and service sectors, underserved market segments, a growing and increasingly sophisticated consumer base, coupled with a strong affinity for U.S. products and American culture, opportunities are impressive. But so are the challenges, including inadequate energy and transportation infrastructure, weak institutions, the threat of crime and corruption, and reoccurring episodes of regionalized violence. Nevertheless, those U.S. firms that take a careful and informed approach to the market can seize Nigeria’s tremendous opportunities and meet the challenges. The leading industry sectors include:

  • Oil and Gas Field Machinery
  • Aerospace/Aviation/Avionics
  • Computers, Software & Peripherals
  • Telecommunications Equipment
  • Medical Equipment
  • Automobiles
  • Construction Equipment
  • Power Equipment,
  • Supplies & Services
  • Construction Equipment

Oil revenue accounts for approximately 20 percent of GDP and over 90 percent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings, but Nigeria’s long-neglected non-oil sectors have been growing faster than the oil sector in recent years. While the U.S. accounts for approximately 80 percent of the imports in the oil and gas sector, overall major import partners are China 10.7 percent, United States 8.4 percent, Netherlands 6.2 percent, UK 5.8 percent, France 5.6 percent, Brazil 5.1 percent, and Germany 4.5 percent. For establishing a presence in Nigeria, we recommend that U.S. firms use a fully vetted local partner.

Nigeria increasingly recognizes the importance of participating fully in the global economy, and enacts policies to attract foreign investment for economic growth, creating more opportunities for American products and services in key sectors. It is recommended that U.S. manufacturers and suppliers combine the benefits of the network services and programs of U.S. Department of Commerce Export Assistance Centers, www.export.gov/comm_svc/eac.html) with the expert knowledge, industry contacts and services of the U.S. Commercial Service at the U.S. Consulate General in Lagos, Nigeria (www.buyusa.gov/nigeria) under its Networking with USA (NUSA) program to penetrate the Nigerian market. NUSA pre-qualifies Nigerian firms interested in doing business with the United States

Pakistan

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The United States and Pakistan maintain an important bilateral relationship based on a joint commitment to regional security and stability. Commercial ties constitute an important element of this relationship. The United States is Pakistan’s largest trading partner and leading source of foreign direct investment. For the United States, Pakistan ranked as the 60th largest purchaser of U.S. goods in 2010, with a value of $1.9 billion. This figure represents a 17% increase over 2009. The United States was Pakistan’s largest market in 2010, taking almost 20% of its total exports. Valued at $3.5 billion, Pakistan’s exports to the United States in 2010 were 11% higher than in the previous year.

Although Pakistan’s economic growth rate of 4.1 % in 2009-2010 was relatively strong, the Pakistani economy faces major challenges. A severe energy shortfall, political turmoil, domestic security issues, significant public debt, and the slow pace of economic and tax reform implementation are factors that could constrain economic performance. Severe flooding in the late summer of 2010 affected large portions of the country and dampened economic activity, leading to a deceleration of GDP growth, expected to be 2.5% for 2010-2011.

On October 15, 2009, President Obama signed the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 (commonly known as the Kerry-Lugar-Berman bill). Through this act, the United States began to provide Pakistan with economic aid worth $7.5 billion over a five-year period. This assistance, together with other bilateral and multilateral commitments, is to provide funding for a wide array of soft and hard infrastructure development of potential interest to U.S. firms.

With a population of about 180 million and an overall GDP of more than $162 billion, Pakistan is the fifth largest market in the entire Middle East, Africa and South Asia regions. It has a youthful population, a large middle class of more than 30 million, and a large and sophisticated entrepreneurial class. With English as the lingua franca of the business community, a highly evolved services sector that contributes to 60% of GDP, and a legal system based on Anglo-Saxon traditions, Pakistan has a number of attributes that make it an attractive market for multinational firms. The World Bank’s 2011 Doing Business Report, which assesses the ease of doing business in international markets, ranked Pakistan at 83 among 183 economies surveyed.

U.S. firms have a strong presence in Pakistan. More than 70 wholly-owned U.S. subsidiaries are registered with the American Business Council (ABC) and American Business Forum (ABF) in Pakistan. There are also hundreds of local firms representing U.S. firms in the market. Leading U.S. businesses in Pakistan include Citibank, Pepsi-Cola, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, NCR, Teradata, Pfizer, Abbot, Eli Lilly, Wyeth, DuPont, Oracle, Microsoft, Cisco, Intel, Chevron, 3M, IBM, Apple, Monsanto, McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, Dominoes Pizza, and Caterpillar.

Despite security challenges and common emerging market concerns about intellectual property rights (IPR) protection, contract enforcement, and governance issues, the Pakistan market offers many attractive trade and investment opportunities in a broad range of sectors: among others, energy (power generation); transportation (aerospace and railways); information and communications technology; architecture, construction, and engineering; health; environmental technology; agricultural technology; safety and security; franchising; and services.

Qatar

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Qatar is one of the fastest growing economies in the world due to oil exports and its successful investment in the liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry. Qatar is the world’s largest exporter of LNG and will expand its output to 77 million tons per annum by 2011. A WTO member since 1996, the country is also actively promoting diversification and liberalization in education, financial services, transport, health, and tourism. The country has several special economic zones to encourage foreign investments. While the work force is majority expatriate, the government promotes a system of “Qatarization” which requires companies to employ set numbers of Qatari nationals.

Saudi Arabia

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Capital city: Riyadh

Surface area: 2,150,000 sq km

Population: 27 million

Official language(s): Arabic

Head of State & Head of Government: King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud

U.S. exports to Saudi Arabia: US$ 14 billion

U.S. imports from Saudi Arabia: US$ 46 billion

Saudi Arabia's principal export destinations: Japan, China, USA

Saudi Arabia's principal import sources: USA, China, Germany

Economic Climate

Saudi Arabia is the largest economy in the Gulf region and is translating its oil wealth into advances in social outcomes, including addressing the housing shortfall and introducing unemployment benefits. In 2011, most economic indicators were close to the average for the G-20 countries. Overall real GDP growth rose from 0.1 percent in 2009 to 4.1 percent in 2010. Saudi Arabia is the 15th largest trading partner of the United States with a bilateral trade of $60 billion in 2011. The country is also the 12th largest destination for U.S. exports. In 2011, the U.S. exported $14 billion worth of goods to Saudi Arabia, an increase of more than 10% from the previous year. Total import market size in 2011 was $120 billion. Major imports into Saudi Arabia included Electrical Equipment ($26.4 billion) and Automotive and Transportation Equipment ($19 billion).

Saudi Arabia has seen a number of improvements to its competitiveness in recent years, which have resulted in a solid institutional framework, efficient markets, and sophisticated businesses. Improvements to the institutional framework as well as strong economic growth have created new opportunities for U.S. companies. In the past two years, several U.S. companies have signed large joint venture agreements with their Saudi counterparts, including a $20 billion joint venture between Dow Chemical and Saudi Aramco as well as a $13 billion joint venture between Saudi Mining Company and Alcoa.

The Saudi government has announced large infrastructure projects entailing total investments of more than $500 billion over the next several years. These projects will offer tremendous opportunities for U.S. companies to tap into this large market. Prime target sectors for US companies include Aerospace, Design & Construction, Energy & Environment, Information Technology, Health and Medical, Defense & Security, and Education and Training.

South Africa

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South Africa represents the largest regional economy and is home to the most sophisticated and diversified industrial and services sectors in Sub-Saharan Africa. The country accounts for about 34 percent of the region’s GDP, 50 percent of its electrical generation, 45 percent of its mineral production, and 50 percent of its purchasing power. South Africa benefits from a well established and stable financial sector, boasts a stock exchange ranked in the twenty largest worldwide, and is the home to a number of successful locally-based multinational companies.

Recent reports show the economy recovering well from the recent global recession. The country’s economy grew by about 3 percent in 2010, and projections are for economic growth to average five percent for the next decades as the country continues to develop. Sectors such as energy, health care, agriculture, vehicles, processed foods, and others are poised for solid growth. South African government and government owned or controlled companies plan substantial investments in capacity upgrades and new facilities. State-owned power company, Eskom, is building additional power stations and power lines to meet rising electricity demand and plans about $56 billion in investments through 2013. Plans for diversification of energy sources is opening opportunities for renewable and nuclear power, as well as opening space for independent power producers. Transportation infrastructure is another area of focus with large scale investments in rail, ports and pipelines.

The country also stands to benefit from rapid growth anticipated in many of its Sub-Saharan African trading partners where South African-based companies, including many of the roughly 600 U.S. companies already in South Africa, have strong market prospects. Telecommunications, retail, energy, mining, agribusiness, processed foods, and consumer goods are among the sectors in which South African-based companies are expanding or poised to expand in the region.

The United States is South Africa’s second largest trading partner and the largest source of foreign investment (combined direct and portfolio investment). In 2009, total U.S.-South Arica trade was $10.3 billion, a significant decrease from 2008 levels of $16.4 billion. However, 2010 trade figures for January to September show trade growth of over 40 percent above corresponding 2009 levels and indicate a strong recovery in U.S. exports to the country. Leading U.S. exports are machinery, vehicles, aircraft, chemicals, IT equipment and services.

The country also faces serious challenges in meeting the needs of its population of 50 million inhabitants. Inadequate educational and health care services, high rates of unemployment (25 percent in 2010), crime and corruption, persistent economic inequality, uneven government service delivery, and rigidities in the labor market all combine to hamper greater economic development and the advancement of wellbeing for large segments of the population. Companies that factor these issues into business plans, make provisions to engage in social responsibility projects and initiatives, and apply their experience and know-how to help address the many lingering socioeconomic challenges facing the country will be well-received and stand to do well in the market.

Regardless of the challenges, South Africa is a country with opportunities for U.S. exporters of investors in nearly every sector, and offers a stable and accessible business climate that can make entry into its markets and those of and neighboring African markets highly attractive.

United Arab Emirates

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Capital: Abu Dhabi

Commercial Center: Dubai

Location: on Arabian Gulf, bordering Saudi Arabia and Oman

Population: 5 million (2010 est.), of which roughly 85% are expatriates

Land area: 82,880 sq. km., roughly the size of Maine

Per capita GDP: US$40,200 (2010)

The prosperity of UAE citizens is based in great part on the country’s vast oil and gas reserves which lie in the largest emirate and seat of the capital, Abu Dhabi, and on the entrepreneurial dynamism of Dubai. Other emirates include Sharjah, Ras al Khaimah, Fujairah, Ajman, and Umm al Quwain. The UAE has over 8% of the world’s proven oil reserves and nearly 5% of proven gas reserves. The country is an active member of the Gulf Cooperative Council (GCC), which includes Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar.

The UAE, long recognized as the commercial and business hub of the Arabian Gulf, is home to the largest man-made port in the world, Jebel Ali. The UAE has no corporate taxes (with the exception of banks and foreign oil companies that have concessions in UAE oilfields), no income taxes, and a relatively low import duty of 5%. In 2009, US goods exports to the UAE totaled $12. billion, making the United Arab Emirates the largest market for US goods in the Middle East/North Africa region. With a $240 billion a year economy and excellent infrastructure, the UAE is an ideal location for US companies to conduct business. The presence of over 750 US firms here underlines this fact. To name just a very few: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Electric, Raytheon, IBM, Xerox, UPS, Parsons, General Dynamics, FedEx, UPS, Ford, General Motors, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Honeywell, ExxonMobil, Microsoft, Motorola, and many more. US companies see the UAE as an excellent place to establish a regional presence because of the pro-business orientation of the leadership, and the stability of the country.

The Emirate of Dubai, capitalizing on its strategic trading position between Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, has successfully developed into a key logistics hub. This emirate has attracted international investment, companies and visitors with landmark projects such as the ambitious man-made Palm Islands, which include private residences and hotels. Dubai’s Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZ) has over 2,400 companies, including 150 US-owned firms. Other Dubai free zones include Media City, Knowledge Village and Internet City. Borrowing on the success of JAFZA, other emirates have also created free zones.

The UAE is a member of the WTO and a signatory to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the General Agreement on Trade in Service (GATS), and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS).

Although oil and gas production will remain the backbone of the UAE economy for years to come, the non-oil sector of the economy is growing at a rapid pace. Major growth areas include: the aerospace sector; security and safety equipment; IT equipment and services; medical equipment, services and supplies; architecture, construction, and engineering services; building products; air conditioning and refrigeration equipment; environmental and pollution control equipment; and sporting goods and equipment. Water and power projects continue to offer considerable opportunity due to the UAE’s unquenchable thirst for water and electricity.

The UAE has an open economy with a high per capita income and a sizable annual trade surplus. Successful efforts at economic diversification have reduced the portion of GDP based on oil and gas output to 25%. Since the discovery of oil in the UAE more than 30 years ago, the UAE has undergone a profound transformation from an impoverished region of small desert principalities to a modern state with a high standard of living. The government has increased spending on job creation and infrastructure expansion and is opening up utilities to greater private sector involvement. The country's Free Trade Zones - offering 100% foreign ownership and zero taxes attract foreign investors. The global financial crisis, tight international credit, and deflated asset prices slowed GDP growth in 2010. UAE authorities tried to blunt the crisis by increasing spending and boosting liquidity in the banking sector. The UAE's strategic plan for the next few years focuses on diversification and creating more opportunities for nationals through improved education and increased private sector employment.