Cameroon and the European Union (EU) launched on August 4, 2021 the sixth tariff dismantling of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) which cover customs duties on products eligible for trade preferences. Five years after the signing of the said agreements, Cameroon already has a deficit of more than 30 billion FCFA (45 million euros), indicated the General Directorate of Customs (DGD).
Through the products constitute the second phase of tariff dismantling which began in 2017 and which concerns, among other things, inputs for food products, clinker, machines, vehicles, these could make it possible to improve the production of certain companies. local, in the cement and brewing sectors.
One of the main reasons for the expected improvement is that the exemption rate for products in the second group has increased from 60% to 75% compared to 15% four years ago. The objective sought through the products of the second group is to encourage local production in order to limit imports. This is the reason for the rather high taxation of most of the products in this group. Since August 4, the products of the second and third groups are now exempt from 75% and 20% respectively.
However, the dismantling of products from the third group such as passenger vehicles, fuels or motorcycles increased the deficit from 10% to 20%. A very different trend with the products of the first group, totally exempt since August 04, 2019, among others, pharmaceutical products, fertilizers, computers, special purpose motor vehicles.
Cameroon’s trade deficit at the end of the first five years of the EPAs reflects its inability to better position its products on the European market, a common market made up of twenty-seven countries. For the moment, Cameroonian exports to the European market are mainly limited to raw materials.
The fifth phase of the dismantling had been postponed from August 2020 to January 2021 for health reasons linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. An unfavorable phase with already a trade deficit of more than 2 billion FCFA.