A founding member of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), Cameroon ratified the African Union (AU) Constitution on 9 November 2003.
Cameroon is very involved in African Union actions to promote peace and security in Africa. Cameroon is also very involved in the African Union’s efforts to promote peace and security in Africa. The fruits of this commitment are noticeable. For example, the city of Douala was chosen in December 2010 (during the session of the AU Defence and Security Committee) to host the continental logistics base (BLC) of African forces awaiting the AU. This decision was endorsed by the Conference of Heads of State in January 2011. The process leading to the operationalization of this BLC is underway. Seminars were held in Douala for this purpose.
At the Central African sub-region, Cameroon is a member of two organizations:
CEMAC (Central African Economic and Monetary Community)
ECCAS (Economic Community of Central African States)
The heads of state of the former UDEAC zone (Union Of Central African States) in 1994 by signing the Treaty of the Economic and Monetary Community of the Central African States in N’djamena inaugurated a new concept of economic integration. Through two unions, the Central African Economic Union (UEAC) and the Central African Monetary Union (UMAC), member states intended to move from a cooperative situation to an accelerated process of economic and monetary integration. Various texts completed the 1994 treaty in the institutional, legal and community fields. CEMAC, which includes six states in the sub-region (Cameroon, Chad, CAR, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville), proposes not only to strengthen economic integration between these countries but also to promote the movement of people and goods within this area. To do this, the community adopted a common monetary unit (the CFA franc of Central Africa) whose issuance has been entrusted to the Bank of Central African States (BEAC) based in Yaounde. The BEAC, in conjunction with the various national agencies, conducts monetary policy and issues the currency that is legal tender and liberating power in the CEMAC area. It controls foreign exchange transactions with the outside world and ensures that payment systems function properly. The CFA franc is attached, through the French treasury, to the Euro with which it enjoys a fixed parity.
Over the past 15 years, the heads of state and government of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) have pledged to implement an ambitious programme of institutional reforms aimed at accelerating integration: enhance free movement, the launch of a community airline “Air CEMAC”, strengthening road infrastructure and intra-community exchanges. Over the years, the machine has unfortunately been infected by national selfishness. Indeed, in order to create a real integrated space of the CEMAC zone, the Heads of State and Government had decided to make effective the free movement of people through the issuance of CEMAC biometric passports. Nevertheless, some countries continue to require entry visas for members of the community whose procurement procedures are a true crossroads.
The implementation of the Regional Economic Programme is progressing very slowly, the decision to end the cohabitation of two financial markets in the area: Douala and Libreville is effective with the creation of the Central African Securities Exchange (BVMAC) based in Douala.
Cameroon is also a member of the Economic Commission of Central African States (ECCAS) established on 18 October 1983 in Libreville ( Gabon), in accord to the recommendations of the April 1980 Lagos (Nigeria) Action Plan on the gradual establishment of an African common market. Members of the ECCAS are: Angola, Burundi, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, CAR, DRC, Sao Tome and Principe, Chad.
One of the struggles of the Economic Commission of Central African States (ECCAS) is to promote the free movement of people within its space, a fight that is far from being won.
In addition, some member states are expected to ratify or accede to the Convention on Cooperation and Mutual Legal Assistance between the Member States of the Economic Commission of Central African States (ECCAS); ratify or accede to the Criminal Police Cooperation Agreement; Systematically create ECCAS entrance corridors at airports and border crossings and make them operational; to communicate with each other, and to the general secretariat, their national legal and regulatory actions relating to approved border crossings.
CAMEROON AND FRANCOPHONIE
As part of its policy of openness at the international level, Cameroon, an associate member of the Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation (ACCT) since 1975, became since 19 November 1991 a full member of the large French-speaking family.
Since then, Cameroon has maintained ongoing cooperation with the International Organization of Francophonie (OIF) in the political, economic, social, cultural and technical fields. Politically, unlike other French-speaking countries in Africa, Cameroon joined the Francophonie relatively late. This development is due to reasons of domestic policy and balance between the two major national linguistic communities (English and French).
Since then, Cameroon has participated at the highest level at all Francophonie summits, again known as conferences of heads of state and government of countries which share French as common language ; an all ministerial and sectoral conferences (Youth and Sport, National Education, Higher Education and Research, Justice, Communication).
In the institutional field, cooperation between Cameroon and the Francophonie is dense. In the parliamentary component, Cameroon hosted three sessions of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophonie in 1998, 2007, and in 2013 when Yaounde hosted the 21st Africa Regional Assembly of the APF from 8 to 9 May. In support of the democratic process, the IOF sent election observation missions in the 1997, 2004, 2011 and 2013 presidential, legislative and municipal elections.
The International Association of Francophone Mayors (AIMF) contributes to the capacity of local administrations and elected officials, as well as to the development of health infrastructure and environmental governance. In addition, the OIF supported the National Council for Decentralization (equipment and staff training in results-based management), the modernization of municipal civil registry services and community finances (ordering budget management and staff pay) in the cities of Douala and Yaounde.
In the justice component, the OIF supports the project to develop a national plan to modernise Cameroon’s justice system, the establishment of a national law dissemination committee, the creation of a computerised legal database through the “Collection, Management and Distribution of Law” (COGEDI) programme, and the establishment of a human rights training programme. , rule of law and humanitarian law at the University of Dschang, in partnership with the University of Evry (France).
CAMEROON AND THE COMMONWEALTH
The political partnership between Cameroon and the Commonwealth is based on the country’s shared concern with the Commonwealth our political reforms with the spirit of the provisions of the 1991 Harare Declaration, which could be summed up in two points:
The Commonwealth’s ethics of constructive partnership have been demonstrated by its close involvement in the national process of democratization. For example, commonwealth election observer teams have participated in most of Cameroon’s elections since 1995: legislative 1997, 2004 and 2011 presidential elections, double legislative and municipal elections in 2002, 2007 and September 30, 2013.
In this vein, the Head of State, Paul Biya, established the Cameroon/Commonwealth Presidential Commission on Political Reform on 14 December 2002 in response to the appointment of a special envoy of the Commonwealth Secretary General to Cameroon.
The commission, framework for political dialogue between the two sides, has been mandated to oversee reforms in four areas: the electoral process, justice (including prison courts), decentralisation and human rights.
Cameroon has thus embarked on a broad programme of reforms and modernization of its political system. The results obtained as a result of this dynamic are notable. Among other things, we can mention:
The Commonwealth’s technical cooperation model is essentially based on the building of human and institutional capacity. Mechanisms for implementing this technical support include: the granting of scholarships, the organisation of seminars – workshops for all categories of professionals and in various fields, both within member countries and at the regional level. Over the past decade, nearly 800 Cameroonians have benefited.
In the social sphere, Cameroon-Commonwealth cooperation is built on three main pillars: promoting gender equality, promoting youth, and promoting public health and education for all. With regard to gender equality and the promotion of youth, it is a partnership based on the common interest in improving the status of women and promoting their emancipation and that of young people, with a view to the effective participation of these two social strata in Cameroon’s governance and development process.
CAMEROON AND THE ORGANIZATION OF THE ISLAMIC CONFERENCE
Cameroon joined the OIC at the 5th session of the Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers (CIMAE) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from 21 to 25 June 1974. Since this accession, the two sides have developed multifaceted cooperation relations, in the political, economic, cultural and legal fields.
Cameroon participated in the 5th Summit of Kings Heads of State and Government of the OIC held in Dakar from 9 to 12 December 1991. The country participates in all other summits as well as at all the Islamic conferences of foreign ministers held since his admission.
The creation in December 1997 by the Head of State of the post of Deputy Minister in charge of relations with the Islamic World and the participation of this personality at the 24th CIMAE held in Doha (Qatar) has given new vigour to cooperation with the OIC.
The adoption by the 3rd Extraordinary Islamic Summit held on 7 and 8 December 2005 in Mecca of a “Special Programme for the Development of Africa” (PSDA) was one of the major decisions of the summit. It is worth noting the role played by the embassies of Cameroon and Côte d’Ivoire in the inclusion of this issue on the agenda and its adoption by the sovereigns and heads of state of the OIC member countries. Under this special programme, an anti-poverty fund called the Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development was established in 2006 in Kuwait City. It has a capital of 10 billion U.S. dollars. Cameroon has subscribed to one billion CFA francs.
Cooperation between Cameroon and the OIC in the economic and financial field has developed through certain agreements, including the General Agreement on Economic, Technical and Trade Cooperation signed and ratified by Cameroon (1978); The Agreement on the Promotion, Protection and Guarantee of Investments signed and Ratified by Cameroon (1995); Framework Agreement on the System of Trade Preferences between Member States, among others.
Several institutions play a major role in strengthening this cooperation. This is the case: from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB); Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Islamic Export Credit Insurance and Investment Guarantee Company; Committee for Economic and Trade Cooperation.
As a flagship institution of financing, the IDB plays significant role for the Cameroonian government. It should be noted that the very first project financed by this Bank after its launch in 1975 was a Cameroonian construction of the Song-loulou hydroelectric dam for a sum of 7,000,000 U.S. dollars.
Other projects were carried out with the financial support of the IDB. These include: CELLUCAM, worth US$10.630 million; the village hydraulics project through 400 boreholes, worth US$5 million; Douala-Yaounde road, amount granted: US$6 million; Equipment at the Kousséri hospital, worth US$1.2 million; the Menchum Integrated Rural Development and Rural Development Project in the Far North, for US$3.930 million respectively.
RELATIONS WITH THE IMF AND THE WORLD BANK
Cameroon faces a double challenge in 2014: lower commodity prices, particularly oil and security threats. This situation leads in particular to the slowdown in Cameroon’s growth, the shrinking of its budgetary and external margins and the rapid increase in its public debt.
To cope with this difficult situation, Yaounde is supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). On 26 June 2017, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approves a three-year agreement under the Enlarged Credit Facility (FEC) for Cameroon to the tune of SDR 483 million (approximately $666.2 million and 175% of Cameroon’s share) to accompany the country’s economic and financial reform programme. The FEC-supported programme aims to help Cameroon restore external and fiscal sustainability and lay the foundations for sustainable private sector-led growth.
In addition to the approval of the agreement, a disbursement equivalent to SDR 124.2 million (approximately $171.3 million) will be immediately made available to Cameroon. The remaining amount will be spread over the duration of the program and its disbursement will be subject to semi-annual reviews.
To correct fiscal and external imbalances, the Cameroonian authorities will need to carry out sustained and balanced work on fiscal consolidation based on an increase in non-oil revenues, a prioritization of growth-promoting public investment projects and a rationalization of current expenditure, while protecting social spending. The Cameroonian authorities’ budgetary programme is based on extensive structural reforms in revenue mobilization and public finance management, in order to further strengthen the mobilization of non-oil revenues, increase expenditure efficiency and control budgetary risks.
Authorities are determined to strengthen Cameroon’s competitiveness and medium-term growth potential, in line with their strategy to achieve emergence by 2035. The completion of major energy and transport infrastructure projects will help boost private sector investment, job creation and economic diversification, and goes hand in hand with complementary reforms aimed at preserving financial stability, expanding access to finance and improving the business climate.
The success of Cameroon’s programme will also depend on the implementation of support policies and reforms by regional institutions.
RELATIONS WITH THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION
The importance of foreign trade and exports (bananas, cocoa, cotton, rubber, coffee, wood, to Cameroon’s economy) justifies establishment of relations with the World Trade Organization (WTO), whose rules govern world trade. Since 1995, various contacts have taken place between Yaounde and the organization in order to bring Cameroonian legislation into line with WTO rules.
The liberalization of the economy, which has continued over the past decade, and the subsequent withdrawal of various sectors of activity from the State, has brought the prevailing conditions in Cameroon closer to the demands of the globalization of trade. However, many believe that commodity prices that make up the bulk of African exports and subsidies to agriculture in developed countries distort trade and penalize countries such as Cameroon.
RELATIONS WITH THE MULTILATERAL INVESTMENT GUARANTEE AGENCY
Cameroon has signed investment guarantee agreements with various countries. These include France, Luxembourg, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, China, Romania and Belgium. In addition to these bilateral agreements, Cameroon concluded a framework agreement in 1999 with the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) under which the institution provides technical assistance to Cameroon. This cooperation reinforces bilateral guarantees. It aims to encourage investment for productive purposes, thus accompanying the action of the World Bank and its subsidiaries.
To this end, the Agency issues guarantees, including through co-insurance and reinsurance operations against non-commercial risks to member state investments in another member country. It contributes through appropriate complementary activities to promote the flow of investment to and between developing member states.
MIGA made a diagnosis from the National Investment Corporation (SNI). The action plan, which was approved, was first a review of an institutional framework. AMGI provides the NIS with assistance in improving its communication policy. Cameroon derives certain advantages from its membership of the AMGI. The Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency is an institution that guarantees foreign investors wishing to settle in the country. AMGI assists the NIS in promoting investment.
Its guarantee covers political risks: civil wars as well as corporate nationalizations. It will help raise awareness of the potential for investment and partnerships in Cameroon.
COOPERATION WITH THE EUROPEAN UNION
Historically linked to European countries, Cameroon has always maintained important and diverse relations with the European Economic Community (EEC), which later became the European Union (EU). These relations are old and varied, it should be remembered that it was in Yaounde that the first agreements of associations of the ACP states with the EEC were sealed (Yaounde 1: 1963/69). It was still in Cameroon that the Yaounde II agreements (1969/75) were signed, which provided the ACP states and in particular Cameroon with significant assistance in a multitude of areas.
The following agreements (from Lomé 1 to Lomé V) have broadened and amplified the EEC’s interventions. As far as Cameroon is concerned, its products, like those of other ACP countries, enjoy free access to the European market. For some products (such as bananas), this access is limited to specific quotas. The European Union is by far Cameroon’s main trading partner. European cooperation, which is in addition to bilateral cooperation with the members of the Union, also plays an important role in Yaounde’s relations with the outside world.
Cooperation concerns among others, communication infrastructures, social facilities (health, education), industrialisation (through the European Investment Bank and the Cdi), support for privatisation actions, restructuring of the coffee and cocoa sectors, development of the rural world (local development programmes and stabex transfers).
IN recent years, STABEX transfers have become an important instrument of cooperation. They have compensated for revenue losses on coffee, cocoa and banana exports, which have been affected by price fluctuations on world markets. Cooperation with the European Union has also extended to structural adjustment policy, with its interventions coordinated with those of the IMF and the World Bank.
ECONOMIC PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT
Meeting in December 2012 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, for their 7th summit, the heads of state and government of the Africa-Caribbean-Pacific (ACP) group called for a redefinition of the ACP-European Union (EU) relationship. The bone of contention is the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the EU, and then the trade issues.
Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are trade agreements aimed at developing free trade between the European Union and ACP countries. They include the immediate abolition of tariffs on products originating from signatory countries entering the EU, and the phasing out of tariffs on products originating in the European Union when they enter the signatory countries. For ACP countries, trade rules are unfair and there are double standards. The less advanced industries of Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific will not be able to compete with Europe and new industries will not be able to develop. This will put a strain on the economies of these countries. As a result, the jobs and future of millions of poor people will be put at risk. These agreements, according to the ACP countries, must be revised on a model of win-win cooperation.
Meanwhile, a few countries including Cameroon have signed an interim EPA. However, all ACP regions continue to negotiate for comprehensive regional agreements that are fair to all. And while the ACP is not yet clear, the EU has set 4 August 2016 as the date for the agreement with Cameroon to enter into force. This pressure is denounced by the ACP, fearing that the poorest of them will be penalized.
Excellent politically and diplomatically, relations between Paris and Yaounde have been marked over the past eleven years economically and socially by the successful implementation of the Deleveraging and Development (C2D) contract. This contract was born out of the initiative for poor and highly indebted countries. According to the agreements made, the amount of debt to be repaid by Cameroon to France is directly returned in the form of a grant that can be mobilized to improve the living conditions of the people.
Cameroon’s first C2D was signed on 22 June 2006. It has been in place since 2017. It is a good financial partnership that should cover a debt amount of more than 5 billion euros, or about 3275 billion CFA francs.
In 2017, ten years after the start of implementation, it emerged that the C2D mobilized the sum of 966 billion francs to finance the improvement of people’s living conditions. Education, health, urban and rural sub-structures, agriculture, environment and forests, research, culture, rural development and vocational training are among the sectors targeted by resources identified by the Deleveraging and Development Agreement. In Cameroon’s 10 regions, there are nearly 500 classrooms built, and more than 200 others rehabilitated and equipped, 37,200 contracted teachers, health checks and obstetric kids set up for pregnant women. To these good points of the C2D, we must add the financing of the interchange place of the region in Yaounde and the second bridge over the Wouri in Douala.
In terms of rural development, the C2D mechanisms have heavily funded the National Participatory Development Programme (PNDP) to support decentralised local authorities in the process of decentralisation in Cameroon. Present today in all municipalities of the country, the PNDP, thanks to C2D funds, has financed about 4000 micro-projects in the fields of health, education, hydraulics and rural trails.
Since the establishment of Sino-Cameroon diplomatic relations 47 years ago, the relations of friendship and cooperation between China and Cameroon have developed in a safe way and have been achieved. Thus, in addition to the multiple donations of equipment or grants and the numerous credits without interest or at preferential rates, there are major Chinese achievements that guarantee this cooperation a certain visibility:
China is currently Cameroon’s largest trading partner and Cameroon is the second largest African recipient of Chinese financing. In 2015, for example, the volume of bilateral trade reached US$2.6 billion, or just over CFA$1510.15 billion.
According to UNCTAD, between 2000 and 2014, Cameroon received 2750 billion CFA francs in foreign direct investment (FDI), of which 1850 billion CFA francs came from China. This represents about 67% of FDI in Cameroon, making China the largest investor in Cameroon (according to the Directorate of Cooperation of the Cameroonian Ministry of Economy). Other FDI came from countries such as France, the United States and Nigeria.
After obtaining all major infrastructure projects in the country (construction of the deep-water port of Kribi; dams at Lom Pangar, Memve’élé and Mekin; laying fibre optics; construction work on the Yaounde-Douala and Yaounde-Nsimalen highways), China is strengthening ties with Cameroon in the mining sector where it has been present for a few years through Sinosteel, which is developing the Kribi Mamelles iron project , in the Southern region. On 13 July 2015, the Prime Minister of Cameroon signed an order “creating, organizing and operating the ad hoc Special Commission for the Selection of a Chinese Company for the construction of the railway for the Mbalam mineral terminal and the implementation of the Dja Mining Loop development plan”.
Cameroonian imports from China consist mainly of computer, electronic and optical products and textile and leather products.
Cooperation between Cameroon and the United States was intensified at the first Africa-U.S. summit in August 2014 at the initiative of President Barack Obama. The meetings of President Paul Biya led to a convergence of views between Yaounde and Washington on many issues of common interest.
Inseparable, peace and security are seen by both countries as unavoidable prerequisites, the basis of any real policy of development and social progress. On these crucial issues, Yaounde and Washington are fully in tune. This explains and justifies sustained cooperation between the two parties in these areas. The highlight was the U.S. contribution to the training of Cameroonian military personnel, particularly in the areas of combating banditry, maritime security, and peacekeeping operations.
In terms of democracy and governance, it should be noted that Cameroon has been involved for years under the leadership of President Paul Biya in the construction of the entrenchment of democracy and the consolidation of the rule of law. A process characterized by a constant modernization of institutions, a better consideration of human rights, a perfection of the electoral system, a fierce and relentless struggle against corruption and the perpetrators of acts that damage public wealth.
In this register, the creation and implementation of a new jurisdiction, the Special Criminal Court (SCC) has aroused a definite interest, on the American side.
In the trade and investment sector, although the volume of trade between Cameroon and the United States has been on an upward trend since 2011, it is still below the potential of both economies. One of the main handicaps is the limited number of products traded: cocoa, wood, tobacco, oil. Also at issue is a business climate that is not attractive enough according to the American side, which constantly advocates a simplification of administrative procedures. However, there is the extreme complexity of the U.S. market and its standards. Nevertheless, there is a relatively large presence of American economic interests in Cameroon, including the geovic mining company, which is firmly established in the Eastern Region with an investment of a few billion dollars.
CAMEROON – NIGERIA
Nigeria, Africa’s economic leader and most populous country, shares a border of about 1,700 km with Cameroon. What happens in one country cannot leave the other indifferent, hence the special relationship between the two countries, a relationship made up of ups and downs. Since President Mohammadu Buhari came to power in Abuja in May 2015, cooperation between Cameroon and Nigeria has moved to the next level. This is evidenced by the increase in meetings between the two heads of state since then.
A few months after his swearing-in, President Muhammadu Buhari paid a friendship and work visit to Cameroon from 29 to 30 July 2015. Responding to an invitation from his counterpart, the Cameroonian head of state made a state visit to Nigeria from 3 to 4 May 2016. Paul Biya returned to Abuja a few days later to take part in the 2nd regional security summit in Nigeria and neighbouring countries on 14 May 2016. These foundations reaffirmed the need to intensify the fight against the terrorist group Boko Haram and the urgent need to combine the military response with development.
USUAL BILATERAL AGREEMENTS
Like any sovereign state, Cameroon has concluded various agreements or conventions with its international partners in a wide variety of areas. For convenience, they can be grouped under the term bilateral agreements. It goes without saying that their purpose and content vary depending on the partner. They are negotiated under the aegis of the Department of External Relations with the assistance, when the subject requires it, of the technical departments.
The most common are the agreements of the movement of people. They define the entry and residence conditions of nationals of contracting countries. A special regime is granted to nationals of countries in the Central African sub-region who are exempt from visas. Consular agreements deal with the protection of the persons and property of foreign nationals living in Cameroon and vice versa. There are about 20 foreign consulates in Cameroon.
Siege agreements that allow international governmental or non-governmental organizations to open representations in Cameroon have been concluded with many of them. They allow them to benefit from certain facilities and in some cases diplomatic status.
Cooperation agreements are a particular category of agreements. They generally relate to the assistance that a developed country is able to provide to a less well-off partner.
ACCORDS BILATERAUX USUELS
Comme tout Etat souverain, le Cameroun a conclu avec ses partenaires internationaux divers accords ou conventions touchant une grande variété de domaines. Par commodité, ils peuvent être regroupés sous le vocable d’accords bilatéraux. Il va de soi que leur objet et leur contenu varient suivant le partenaire. Ils sont négociés sous l’égide du ministère des Relations extérieures avec le concours, lorsque le sujet l’exige, des ministères techniques.
Les plus courants sont les accords de circulation des personnes. Ils définissent les conditions d’entrée et de séjour des ressortissants des pays contractants. Un régime particulier est accordé aux nationaux des pays de la sous-région d’Afrique centrale qui sont dispensés de visas. Les accords consulaires traitent de la protection des personnes et des biens des ressortissants étrangers vivant au Cameroun et réciproquement. Il existe une vingtaine de consulats étrangers au Cameroun.
Des accords de siège qui autorisent les organisations internationales gouvernementales ou non-gouvernementales à ouvrir des représentations au Cameroun ont été conclus avec bon nombre d’entre-elles. Ils leur permettent de bénéficier de certaines facilités et dans quelques cas de statut diplomatique.
Les accords de coopération constituent une catégorie particulière d’accords. Ils concernent en général l’aide qu’un pays développé est en mesure d’accorder à un partenaire moins nanti.