(Business in Cameroon) - The Directorate General of Customs announced that on January 1, 2021, Cameroon launched the 5th phase of tariff dismantling in the framework of its economic partnership agreement with the European Union.
The phase just started marks the progressive dismantling of customs tariffs on products of the third category (cars, motorcycles, fuel, cement, etc…) imported from European Union countries. According to the directorate, the tariffs will be fully dismantled by August 3, 2021, and then phase 6 will be launched.
Cameroon is therefore keeping to the promise it made to its EU partners while suspending the implementation of the 5th phase in August 2020. At the time, Cameroonian authorities invoked article 31 of the partnership agreement saying that this decision was caused by the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on public finances.
However, when EU experts rejected that explanation (neither pandemics nor public finance problems are reasons to implement the safeguard measures as per article 31), Cameroon invoked article 57 of the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
According to customs authorities, with the 5th phase, not only are tariffs on products of the third category reduced by 10%, but products of the second category are reduced by 60% while tariffs on products of the first category are fully dismantled.
About XAF400 billion expected for the development component of the agreement…
The tariff dismantling on products in the first category started on August 4, 2016, at the rate of 25% tariffs dismantled yearly. The products included are those that aim to reduce poverty and improve residents’ living conditions. On August 4, 2019, the dismantling was completed. The products concerned include pharmaceuticals, fertilizers, pesticides, cakes, paper and cardboard, bitumen and other petroleum residues, soda, gypsum, chalk, lime, gas, inorganic and organic chemicals, computers, special purpose motor vehicles, tractors, accessories for motorcycles, bicycles and wheelchairs, laboratory equipment and so on.
For products belonging to the second category, the tariff dismantling started on August 4, 2017, at the rate of 15% tariff dismantled yearly on products that aim to boost local production. On August 4, 2019, the tariffs were dismantled by 45%, 60% on January 1, 2021, and scheduled to reach 100% in 2023. The products concerned are plasters, lime, marbles, clinkers, inputs for food industries (odoriferous mixtures... for food or beverage industries, yeasts, etc.), wire rods, generators and rotary electric converters, machines and appliances, trucks and similar vehicles used for goods transportation, trailers, and semi-trailers, wheelbarrows, some vehicle parts and accessories (bumpers, belts, brakes, wheels, clutches).
Official sources explain that in the framework of that partnership agreement, Cameroon expects the European Union to provide an envelope of nearly XAF400 billion this year, as funding for the development component of the agreement.
Brice R. Mbodiam