TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Statement On the Passage of Agoa Acceleration Act of 2004

Friday, 02 July 2004

Source: Cameroon Tribune (Yaoundé)

Efforts are being made by several organisations to improve bilateral trade on other products.

A Commercial Specialist in the American Embassy says Cameroon coffee has since 2000 not found a place in the American market. Jean Paul Yana made the declaration at a press conference organised by the American Embassy, in collaboration with officials of the African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA), the Chambers of Commerce and the American Business Association (ABA). The press conference which took place at the Press Relations Office in Yaounde yesterday was aimed at highlighting the US-Cameroon economic relationship under the auspices of AGOA.

Mr Yana evaluated the US-Cameroon economic relationship from two phases; before and after Cameroon's membership in AGOA. He said before Cameroon was admitted, trade between the two countries was quite timid. Cameroon, he said, did not satisfactorily benefit from export products like wood, artefacts and cash crops. Cocoa, he cited, yielded less than 1.3 million dollars. Mr Yana said a drastic change was witnessed when Cameroon became a signatory. Cocoa, he revealed, yielded as much as CFA 18 million dollars last year, adding that Cameroonian petroleum products also have a large market in America. He said Cameroon also imports spare parts, trucks and other automobiles from America.

An official of the Chambers of Commerce, Mr Enow Mbei Emmanuel, said the problem of coffee goes beyond trade. He said Americans now go in for value added coffee, not raw products, adding that it is difficult for Cameroonian farmers to withstand competition from countries like Vietnam, Columbia and others which have transformed the product to suit the taste of American buyers. Mr Enow was convinced that coffee farmers do not have much to reap from AGOA.

The Chambers of Commerce official however said Cameroon's membership in AGOA is fetching enough for the country. He said with the assistance from US aid the Chamber of Commerce has set up an information centre for Cameroonian businessmen. The centres , he added, will be extended to all provincial delegations where business operators can consult product and trade maps on websites. He thanked the US government for donating computers and other new technology equipment to his office.

Against this backdrop, Mrs Kah Walla of the American Business Association (ABA) stated inter alia that relations between American and Cameroonian businessmen is waxing strong. ABA, she said is doing all to create more business links in the US for Cameroonians by providing information on business evolution and strategies to small, medium and large scale business operators. They also organise seminars to share experiences every month. Membership, she said, is opened to all businessmen.