The Cotonou Agreement aims to smoothly integrate the ACP countries into the world economy, strengthening their production, supply and trade capacities. This requires a growing capacity to attract investment, establish strong trade and investment policies, and effectively deal with all trade-related matters.
The Economic Partnership Agreements (EPA) are the commercial pillars of the Cotonou Agreement. The EPAs reflect a shared ambition to create a new partnership between the EU and the different ACP regions, including Central Africa. This strengthened economic partnership combines trade and development cooperation to promote sustainable growth and job creation.
An EPA has been negotiated since 2003 between the EU and Central Africa (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, São Tomé and Príncipe, and).
Nevertheless, given the inherent difficulties of negotiating an agreement to cover a large number of countries, on 17 December 2007 Cameroon and the EU agreed on an interim EPA to apply until a regional agreement can come into force. The main advantage of this option was that it allowed Cameroon to continue enjoying commercial preferences which it would have risked losing, in line with the rules of the World Trade Organization.
The interim EPA was approved by the European Parliament on 13 June 2013 and ratified by Cameroon on 22 July 2014.
The interim EPA gives Cameroon duty-free and quota-free access to the EU market, while imports duties on 80% categories of goods originating from the EU will be dismantled by Cameroon over a 15-year period. They are mostly inputs used by Cameroon's industries that are not produced locally. Eliminating import duties will reduce the costs of inputs for local businesses and will also benefit consumers.
Cameroon has excluded 20% categories of goods originating from the EU from the tariff dismantling (mainly agricultural and non-agricultural processed goods), to ensure the protection of certain local agricultural markets and industries and to maintain fiscal revenues. The excluded products include most types of meat, wines and spirits, malt, milk products, flour, certain vegetables, wood and wood products, used clothes and textiles, paintings, and used tyres.
The agreement also stipulates commitments from the EU and its Member States to help Cameroon become more competitive, as well as measures to help exporters meet EU import standards (sanitary and phytosanitary measures). Moreover, it includes cooperation on the establishment of more effective customs procedures, and fiscal adjustment, in order to guarantee that the suppression of customs duties will not destabilize the country's public finances.
More about EPA EU-Cameroon
Today, the EU is Cameroon’s leading trade partner. Cameroon's exports towards the European market are estimated at 47 % of its total exports. Its imports from the EU account for around 30 % of all its imports. Many EU companies are doing business in Cameroon, creating jobs and bringing added value by offering new services and products.
More about European business activities in Cameroon, and the initiatives funded by the EU and its Member states to support businesses in Cameroon