Cameroon’s 2022 Free Trade Forum Ends with Relevant Policy Recommendations
The Nkafu Policy Institute has ended the 2022 Cameroon Free Trade Forum in Yaounde. The session holding on the 25th of February 2022 at the Mansel Hotel, Yaoundé brought together trade experts, development partners, policymakers, entrepreneurs, traders, academics and members of civil society to discuss best practices that would enhance trade between Cameroon and her partners.
Opening the session, Mrs Jane Mbonde Board Chair at the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation said one of the objectives of the session was to propose sound policy recommendations that will allow Cameroon conquer targeted markets with high development potentials and benefit significantly from them in accordance with the objectives set out in the NDS30
The Nkafu Policy Institute says Cameroon is positioned in the transport logistics chain as a port and transit state for the trade of many border and non-border countries with the rest of the world (notably, Central African Republic, Chad and Nigeria, to name a few). Indeed, the country is open to the Atlantic Ocean with about 402 km of coastline and is served by a land transport corridor about 1,500 km long towards the Central African Republic and 2,100 km towards Chad. Despite these assets,the think tank says, the trade facilitation situation in Cameroon is hardly glowing. According to the 2018 World Bank Doing Business Report in 2018, Cameroon ranked 186th out of 190 economies in terms of cross-border trade. This is due to the fact that the country’s trade with the rest of the world has gradually deteriorated over time. As a result, exports to the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) market fell from 14.3 percent of total exports in 2007 (2nd largest importer of Cameroonian products) to 7 percent in 2015 (4th largest importer of Cameroonian products). This deterioration it noted, is further corroborated in 2019 by Cameroon’s ranking in terms of trade integration within the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS). According to the Africa Regional Integration Index Report 2019, Cameroon ranked 4th out of the 11 ECCAS member countries with a score of 0.383 (on a scale 0-1), below Chad (0.409), Gabon (0.504) and the Republic of Congo (0.890). This modest score reflects the many challenges that the country continues to face in various regional integration initiatives. In the same vein, despite Nigeria’s immense economic potential, Cameroon’s export to Nigeria represents only 1.1% of its total export.
The Cameroonian think tank says to meet the development objectives set out in its new National Development Strategy 2020-2030 (NDS30), Cameroon is now seeking to take advantage of its strategic position in the Gulf of Guinea.It noted that the country intends to give significant impetus to the acceleration of true trade integration at the sub-regional and regional levels. To achieve this, the country intends to conquer markets with high development potential, focusing in particular on the ECCAS (whose market is estimated at over 300 million inhabitants), Nigeria, emerging countries, the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (USA). Accordingly, Nigeria, whose market is the largest in sub-Saharan Africa, with an estimated consumer population of about 201 million in 2020 (World Bank, 2020), has been identified as the first target in this conquest. Also, with the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the intensification of Cameroon’s trade relations with the outside world will extend to all the sub-regions of Africa with specific achievable objectives from one country or group of countries to another. However, to take full advantage of the country’s strategic position, trade facilitation, which includes various border activities such as import and export procedures, transport and insurance formalities, and other financial requirements, is necessary and indispensable. The country’s target is to achieve double-digit economic growth by 2035 and a 25% share of manufacturing in GDP
The Free Trade Forum was therefore focused on how to facilitate Cameroon’s Bilateral and
Multilateral Trade and had as objectives to discuss strategies to facilitate Cameroon’s bilateral and multilateral trade over the next ten years, specifically ways to accelerate a real trade integration of Cameroon at the sub-regional and regional levels through the removal of associated obstacles; strategies to make Cameroon a land of attractiveness and competitiveness in foreign trade within the framework of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA);
and discussing priority measures to be implemented by the
Cameroonian government to conquer markets with high development potential such as Nigeria.
Participants proposed that Cameroon should focus on the service sector because it will be ideal for the country’s young educated and Bilingual public as well as the need to jump from industrialization to service exploits like music, film, and technology services.
Source: Bantu Voices