A vast majority of the population is employed in agriculture, which accounts for about 55% of the GDP (2001 est.). Light industries, primarily in Bangui, include food processing, textiles, cigarettes, a brewery, and a diamond-cutting facility. Most local produce and imports are sold at markets in towns and villages. Company agents and independent middlemen buy export crops at local markets or directly from the producers for sale to large companies. Most commercial businesses are controlled by French and Lebanese owners. The government fosters the distribution of agricultural products through a monopolistic state trading company.
A chamber of commerce at Bangui promotes trade and provides information to business firms. Advertising is found in local newspapers, company publications, and handbills and on billboards and radio. Normal business hours are from 7 AM to noon and 2:30 to 6:30 PM , Monday through Friday. Saturday hours are from 7 AM to noon.