TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

Cameroon opens up to business with America

Friday, 01 June 2007

Source: The Post (Buea)

A handful of Cameroonian businessmen and senior managers of para-public and private sector industries recently participated in a business forum in the US.

The "cut and dry" businessmen met at the Marriot Hotel in North Bethesda, Washington DC, at the invitation of the US Embassy in Cameroon for the investment forum on projects and finance, running through April 23 to 27.

The team led by Jean Paul Yana and Christopher Ekom of the Commercial Department of the US Embassy in Cameroon, with Strategy Manager, Daniel Anagho, liaising from Washington DC, endeavoured not only to seek greater business horizons for US and Cameroonian businessmen but also burn the candle at both ends for the concretisation of projects and transactions to be made.

The participants received enriching lectures from senior executives of Exim Bank, Export-Import Bank of the US, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, OPIC, the US State Department represented by the Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer, on firm commitment of America to do business with Africa as seen in President Bush's policy with Africa and Cameroon in particular.

Strategy managers and seasoned business executives representing Cameroon the US like Eric Makuna Tande of Global Business Dynamics, and Prof. John Sirovy drilled the cream of Cameroonian businessmen elite on the realities on how to do business with the US.

The lessons they learned was that America had no free ride, but in its globalisation drive, it has opportunities available for; for the private and public sectors, there is no free cash but there are funds offered by renowned banking institutions with established modus operandi that must be mastered and followed up to the letter before one qualifies to earn the funds.

Enlightened too, were the Managing Directors of FEICOM, Credit Foncier, Société Immobilière du Cameroun, SIC, Le Car, Northwest Corporative Association, Chanas et Privat and a long list of American businessmen ready to do business with Cameroon.

The participants also learned that the initiation process into receiving funding from US financiers are not "one-night-stand" deals but permanent processing leading to limitless possibilities at the end.

Many of the directors present, it could be noticed, were visibly proud of their Cameroonian origin and openly celebrated the "Anglo-Saxon item" in the national unity mix.This simply means bilingualism was at its top as most of them found themselves openly regretting the day they boycotted English classes in secondary and primary schools.

It is worthwhile noting here that until recently most business initiatives were driven towards France but with America's recent implementation of the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act, AGOA, and an energetic US Ambassador, there has been a seismic shift: America is now the leading investor in Cameroon.

This leadership position in investment in Cameroon can be attributed to the drive given to US-Cameroon relations by Ambassador Neils Marquadt: one of constantly fighting for poverty alleviation, creating opportunities and advocating human rights in a less corrupt environment, and the desire of the Cameroon Government to avail itself to American opportunities in the constant fight to move Cameroon forward, especially in the present globalisation context.

Recent results published by the IDF-International Development Finance, a London-based firm which received government support and a partnership with the Dutch Agency for Development, SNV, GICAM and BEAC, say the US, France and Malaysia are, in descending order, the leading investor countries in Cameroon.

Direct investments which accounted for 89 percent of stocks in 2003 with a volume FCFA 982.7 billion is prospected to only get higher.The report further indicates that despite the withdrawal of some heavyweight American investments like the American oil Pipeline project run by Cameroon Oil Transporting Company, COTCO,

American businesses are projected to only rise with the increase of CITIBANK investments, Le Car and Le Bus, AFRIGAZ AZA and the prospected presence of GEOVIC in the East for the exploitation of cobalt and nickel.

Such realities only solidify the conviction that the US is an unavoidable partner in our constant drive for the fight against poverty and development needs for our people.

After the forum in Washington DC, most of the senior executives came up with new road maps, with the US standing as a sure destination in terms of investments, financing and orientation for the various businesses they represented.

The next US Embassy trade forum is scheduled for Chicago in October 2007, and most of the Cameroon managers and entrepreneurs who were in Washington already know that being part of the process means initiating actions that will not only galvanize assurances of promises at the forum, but consolidating acquired gains while learning the all important pre-requisites of globalisation.

These forums and trade missions are part of efforts by the US Embassy in Yaounde to increase bilateral trade between the US and Cameroon. Contact the Commercial Section at the US Embassy in Yaounde (2201500) or Chicago Midwest (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) for more information on the next trade forum.

“ Latest AGOA Trade Data currently available on

Click here to view a sector profile of Cameroon’s bilateral trade with the United States, disaggregated by total exports and imports, AGOA exports and GSP exports.

Other regularly updated trade statistics on include: (click each link to view)

  • AGOA-Beneficiary Countries’ AGOA and GSP Trade Aggregates

  • AGOA Trade by Industry Sector

  • Apparel Trade under AGOA’s Wearing Apparel Provisions

  • Latest Apparel Quotas under AGOA

  • Bilateral Trade Data for all AGOA-eligible countries individually.