Cameroon.. First Realization of the African Continental Free Trade Area

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In Cameroon, the upper deep port of Kribi, in the south of the country, welcomes a boat loaded with cargo under the “Zlecaf” regime. This cargo of resin from Tunisia is the first import of goods under this free trade zone project. A project signed by 54 African countries but which is struggling to materialize.

Twenty tonnes of resin imported by Cameroon and destined for a paint manufacturing company, this shipment is the first in the sub-region to benefit from a preferential customs tariff within the framework of the African Continental Free Trade Area project ( Zlecaf). A project which for the moment is in its pilot phase, with eight countries participating, including Cameroon.

Reduce taxes

The objective is to gradually reduce customs duties to stimulate trade between African countries. Because today these exchanges represent only 17% of the total trade flows on the continent. “We prefer to import products from China or Europe than to produce locally”, says an internal source, “because it costs less”.

A list of 5,000 products

“If customs tariffs are reduced”, adds the same source, “products will be more competitive, which will stimulate trade”. For the moment, a list of more than 5,000 products – mainly raw materials, tea, coffee, and construction materials – is concerned. Cameroon has everything to gain from Zlecaf, believes Yves Melingui, strategy director of the port of Kribi, who hopes to see this deep-water port become a transshipment hub between central and southern Africa.

Soukaina Sghir

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