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 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 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.
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. 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.
In this context, the Nkafu Policy Institute, a think tank of the Denis and Lenora Foretia Foundation, is organizing a Free Trade Forum on how to facilitate Cameroon’s Bilateral and Multilateral Trade.
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The main objective of this Free Trade Forum is to discuss strategies to facilitate Cameroon’s bilateral and multilateral trade over the next ten years. Specifically, it will be about:
- Discussing ways to accelerate a real trade integration of Cameroon at the sub-regional and regional levels through the removal of associated obstacles;
- Discussing strategies to make Cameroon a land of attractiveness and competitiveness in foreign trade within the framework of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA);
- Discussing priority measures to be implemented by the Cameroonian government to conquer markets with high development potential such as Nigeria.
- Target Audience
The event targets trade experts, development partners, policymakers, entrepreneurs, traders, academics and members of civil society. The event will be streamed live on the Foretia Foundation’s social media platforms.
- Event Format
The event will be hybrid, with panel discussions comprised of senior policy makers and business leaders from Africa and around the world.
- Themes of the panel discussions
- High level panel discussion (Hybrid session): Cameroon’s Bilateral and Multilateral Trade: Where are we today?
- Break-out session 1 (Hybrid session): Overcoming the challenges of regional trade integration: What solutions for Cameroon?
- Break-out session 2 (Hybrid session): How will AfCFTA enhance Cameroon’s competitiveness and trade attractiveness?
- Break-out session 3 (Online session): Strengthening Free Trade Relations Between Cameroon and Nigeria
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