Gabon - TimberGabon - Timber
Timber exports are Gabon’s second main export after oil and manganese, accounting for roughly nine percent of the country’s total value of exports. Approximately 10.7 million hectares of Gabon’s 21 million hectares of rainforest are allocated as concessions for commercial timber production. Okoume, a light hardwood used for plywood, is the most commercially viable, but some two dozen species are marketed. The vast majority of Gabonese timber production is exported to China.
In 2010, the government banned the export of unprocessed wood to encourage local processing and export of finished goods. A special economic zone (SEZ) at Nkok just outside of Libreville was designed as "one-stop shop" for companies to process and then export wood products. Although the SEZ since expanded to include businesses in industries beyond timber processing, it has encouraged the emergence of a wood-based manufacturing sector. The SEZ provides single-window business services to participants and provide new investors with beneficial fiscal incentives, including tax-free operation for 25 years, no custom duties on imported machinery and parts, and 100 percent repatriation of funds.
The forest code is currently being revised in order to simplify procedures for foreign companies investing in the SEZ to negotiate forest concessions.
Sub-Sector Best Prospects
Wood-processing and equipment.
There are opportunities for U.S. firms in wood processing, especially for operations that focus on environmental sustainability. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are currently working with the government to reform its timber industry to improve and enforce transparency, simplify the tax code, and improve responsible logging practices. The government is also in the process of reforming the forest code to increase transparency and sustainable business practices and to improve the business climate for foreign companies looking to operate in Gabon.
African Timber Organization (OAB / Organisation Africaine du Bois)
SEZ OLAM Gabon
BP 13559, Libreville, Gabon
Equatorial Wood Company
Batterie IV, Libreville, Gabon
Gabonese National Timber Company (SNBG)
BP 67, 99
Gabon Machinery and Tools Trade Development and Promotion