Unlike the top five importers of its products, shipments of goods from Cameroon to African countries represent only 9.7% of export earnings.
According to the 2021 report on Cameroon’s foreign trade, published by the National Institute of Statistics (INS), in that year, Cameroonian products were exported to 128 countries around the world. But on analysis, this diversity of customers is only a facade, insofar as, specifies the INS, “the first five customers acquired nearly 62% of Cameroon’s total exports during the year. “.
In order of importance, these countries are China, Cameroon’s leading customer, which captured 25.8% of Cameroonian exports for 618.4 billion FCFA; the Netherlands (12.4%, or 297.7 billion FCFA); India (9.6%, or 230.9 billion FCFA); Italy (7.1%, or 171 billion FCFA) and Spain (6.1%, or 145.9 billion FCFA). Like the high concentration of its exports in just a few markets, the types of products exported by Cameroon in 2021, as has indeed been the case for ages, are also very limited.
For example, we learn from the INS report, 85% of Cameroonian exports to China during the period under review are made up of hydrocarbons such as crude oil (66%) and natural gas (19%). Raw (10%) and sawn (3%) wood complete this list of products. “These four products represent 98% of exports to China in 2021”, underlines the INS.
At the same time, we learn from the same source, “five products represent nearly 99% of Cameroon’s exports” to the Netherlands, its second largest customer in the world. Even better, 72% of these exports are made up of cocoa and its derivatives (butter and paste). To India, the 3rd market, Cameroon’s exports consist of 98% petroleum products, including crude petroleum oils (75%) and liquefied natural gas (23%).
Weak trade with Africa
According to the analysts of the body in charge of the development of official statistics in Cameroon, the weight of exports between Cameroon and African countries remains quite low. In 2021, for example, shipments of goods from Cameroon to African countries represent only 9.7% of total export earnings, including 7.3% to other CEMAC countries (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon , Equatorial Guinea and Chad) and 0.8% to Nigeria.
During the year 2021, Cameroon’s trade deficit worsened, reaching 1,478 billion FCFA, against 1,375 billion FCFA in 2020, recalls Invest in Cameroon. This corresponds to an increase in absolute value of 103 billion FCFA (+7.5%) over one year.
“This deterioration is the result of an increase in import expenditure of 693 billion FCFA, or 21.8%, much higher than the increase in export earnings, which stands at 591 billion FCFA, or 32.8%, compared to compared to the year 2020. This favorable development recorded in both exports and imports would mark a recovery in foreign trade slowed down in 2020 by the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic”, explains the INS.