International Trade: Cameroon On A Deficit

The worrisome balance of payment is being addressed by reducing imports and making the industry sector more competitive.

Responding to the country’s worsening trade deficit remains a preoccupation to government, the Balance of Payments National Technical Committee has said. The observation was made in Yaounde, Friday February 22, 2019, when the Committee met in an ordinary session. Statistics show that in 2017, Cameroon’s current account deficit dropped to FCFA 540.8 billion, representing 2.6 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), from FCFA 613 billion in 2016 (that is 3.2 per cent of GDP). Officials posit the trend was driven mainly by the drop in import expenditure.

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But estimates for 2018 show a widening of the current account deficit, rising to FCFA 729.5 billion – representing 3.4 per cent of GDP. According to customs statistics, there was a sharp rise of 11 per cent in imports in 2018 as against exports which only increased by 4 per cent. With regards to exports in 2018 compared to 2017, Cameroon was able to record the following developments per product: crude oil, +16 per cent; wood and wooden articles, +4 per cent; raw cotton, +23 per cent; fuels and lubricants, 8 per cent; raw rubber, -24 per cent; raw aluminum, -10 per cent; banana -6 per cent; and coffee, -21 per cent. Cocoa export is said to be stabilizing after a sharp decline by 28 per cent mainly caused by the socio-political crisis in the South West Region which is a key production basin.

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As concerns imports, it was mainly driven by increase in purchases of fuels and lubricants (+88 per cent), frozen sea fish (+35 per cent), bitumen coke (+137 per cent), iron products, iron and steel (+16 per cent), aluminum oxide (+93 per cent) and chemicals (+17 per cent). Rice imports fell by 22 per cent. A report of the Balance of Payments National Technical Committee indicates that Cameroon is in surplus with CEMAC and the European Union, but in deficit with Nigeria, China, France and United States of America.

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Cameroon Tribune learned with the support of technical and financial partners, the government is taking appropriate actions to reduce imports and make the industry sector more competitive. Boosting the agriculture, forestry, oil, transportation and financial sectors, which has been enabling the country to earn foreign exchange, is under focus.

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