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Since the free trade zone went operational, debate has been rife on how this initiative will benefit Africa as a whole especially countries on the continent that are less resilient.

One of such public debates was organised in Yaounde yesterday by the Nkafu Policy Institute to examine the benefits of the free trade zone to Cameroon’s economy as well as its shortcomings.

Dr. Okah Francoise, economist and researcher at the University of Yaounde II, backed Cameroon’s decision to ratify the free trade zone as she believes it comes at the right time.

To her, the free trade zone will reinforce the South-South cooperation, help Cameroon conquer new markets and better diversify the economy.

Cameroon’s success and status as one of the giants of the Cemac zone gives the country leverage to embrace the free trade zone and reap the benefits it has to offer, she said.

Her co-panelist Dr. Fabien Sundjo added that it is the perfect time for Cameroon to join the free trade zone, dismissing all fears that Cameroon might not be competitive given that most African nations export the same raw materials. To him, this has never been a problem in trade because relative advantage will always be taken into consideration.

However, Dr. Richard Makon, researcher at the University of Yaounde II disagrees with his peers. To him, Cameroon is not ready to join the free trade zone because it companies are not flexible enough.

He rather called on the government to offer more protection to local companies to make them more competitive and sustainable internally before attempting to lift barriers. He described the lifting of barriers as a suicide to the country’s economy because measure have not been taken to compensate the loss off cash flow from customs duty.

Source: Journal du Cameroun