With exports of US$770 million and imports of US$1.7 billion, the Congo has a severe trade imbalance of nearly US$1 billion. The Congo conducts considerable trade with other Central African countries such as Cameroon, the Central African Republic, and Gabon, which are part of the Customs and Economic Union of Central Africa. However, it exports the majority of its goods—primarily oil—to Western countries. The United States purchased 23 percent of the country's exports in 1998, while the Benelux countries took 14 percent, followed by Germany, Italy, Taiwan, and China. France was the major source of goods imported into the Congo, with 23 percent; the United States provided 9 percent; Belgium, 8 percent; and the United Kingdom, 7 percent.
Although the Congo has a bilateral investment treaty with the United States and a new investment code intended to bring in more foreign direct investment , it has been unable to attract meaningful foreign investment. According to the U.S. Department of State Background Notes, "High costs for labor, energy, raw materials, and transportation; militant labor unions; and an inadequate transportation infrastructure are among the factors discouraging investment. The recent political instability, war damage, and looting also will undermine investor confidence."
|Trade (expressed in billions of US$): Democratic Republic of the Congo|
|SOURCE : International Monetary Fund. International Financial Statistics Yearbook 1999.|
|Exchange rates: Republic of the Congo|
|Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (CFA Fr) per US$1|
|Note: From January 1, 1999, the CFA Fr is pegged to the euro at a rate of 655.957 CFA Fr per euro.|
|SOURCE : CIA World Factbook 2001 [ONLINE].|