Djibouti is one of the smallest countries in Africa. Its strength lies in its location at the southern entrance to the Red Sea and the fact that it is adjacent to some of the world’s busiest shipping lanes, acting as a bridge between Africa and the Middle East.
According to the World Bank’s global economic prospects report, Djibouti is expected to experience the strongest growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) in Africa this year. The country’s growth remained positive at 0.5% in 2020, following the recovery of key domestic markets. What is more, the output growth in Djibouti is set to reach 5.5% in 2021 and an average of 6.1% a year in 2022 and 2023. This will put the country’s shipping, logistics and telecommunication services to the test.
Djibouti’s ports lead the country’s economy. The system is among the most sophisticated in the world, and trade through these ports is expected to grow rapidly in parallel with the expanding economy of the country’s largest neighbour and main trading partner, Ethiopia.
In October 2020, the Djibouti Sovereign Fund provided support to pool the country’s wealth, invest in partnerships on international projects, boost the domestic private sector and steadily increase savings.
"Djibouti is expected to experience the strongest growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) in Africa [in 2021]".
Meanwhile, the Vision 2035 development plan established in 2013 has led to:
Other areas being developed include:
Investment over the past few years has made Djibouti an attractive area for commerce, which is one reason why brand owners should register their trademarks before exploring business opportunities in the country.
IP protection in Djibouti
Djibouti has been a member of the WIPO Berne and Paris Conventions since 2002 and the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights since 1995. However, as it is not a member of the Madrid System, an international application through WIPO is not possible.
With regard to trademarks, Law No 50/AN/09/6th L was enacted in 2009 and was due to come into force six months after publication in the Official Journal. The publication took place on 25 May 2011 and the law came into effect on 9 June 2012.
Before filing a trademark registration in the country, brand owners should be familiar with the following aspects of the system:
Filings must include:
The registration process comprises:
There is no opposition system in Djibouti.
To sum up, Djibouti has entered 2021 with determination, despite the challenging international economic situation arising from the covid-19 crisis.
The country’s ongoing infrastructure projects, port repair and maintenance facilities should give it a competitive advantage over neighbouring ports and reinforce its position as a regional trade and logistics hub. As a result, the number of trademark applications relating to shipping, logistics, energy, tourism and telecommunication services is expected to rise in the coming years.
However, Djibouti’s growth prospects, while favourable, depend heavily on Ethiopia’s political and economic conditions, as well as foreign investment.
This is a co-published article, which was originally published in the World Trademark Review (WTR).