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Cameroon's trade dynamics in ECCAS: opportunities and challenges

Cameroon's trade dynamics in ECCAS: opportunities and challenges
  • Comments   -   Thursday, 07 December 2023 03:23

(Business in Cameroon) - From 2019 to 2022, nations in the Economic Community of Central African States only captured 6.3% of Cameroon's exports, well below the 10% and nearly 35%, respectively, for Africa as a whole and the European Union.

According to the Ministry of the Economy’s Competitiveness Committee, which provided these figures, "Cameroon should focus on generating (by stimulating regional markets) with neighboring countries, a dynamism that will trigger more active participation in world markets, particularly with the arrival of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)". 

Preferential customs tariffs

However, despite the low level of trade between ECCAS countries and Cameroon, the report notes that a number of products from Cameroon are highly prized and “in strong demand” in the region. These include "zinc and zinc articles, which account for an average 36% of ECCAS import demand", while "cocoa and cocoa preparations account for an average 30%". Alongside these highly sought-after products, for which other countries clearly supply larger shipments than Cameroon, there are other Cameroonian products that "dominate ECCAS markets".

These include soaps (the only product for which Cameroon supplies more than 1% of Africa's import demand) and other laundry preparations, which account for 13% of ECCAS countries' import demand; vegetable preparations and fruit, which account for 10% of import demand; and wood, charcoal and wood products (around 7.5% of demand). Also on the Competitiveness Committee's list are cereal, flour, starch and milk preparations; pastries (around 4% of demand); and roots and tubers (around 3.7% of import demand).

As a reminder, to boost intra-community trade, the ECCAS has set up a preferential tariff regime, which allows companies that manufacture products made from at least 40% local raw materials to access the territories of this 11-state community free of customs duties (the DRC is reluctant to apply this regulation to soaps and vegetable oils from Cameroon, ed).

Thanks to this incentive scheme, 23 Cameroonian companies received approvals in 2016, authorizing them to export no fewer than 168 products to ECCAS countries duty-free. To date, according to reliable sources, 36 companies based in Cameroon can export 249 products duty-free to the 10 other ECCAS countries.

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