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23 July 2001
Cameroon: July 2001

The Trade Policy Review Body of the World Trade Organization (WTO) concluded its second review of Cameroon on 18 and 20 July 2001. The text of the Chairperson's concluding remarks is attached as a summary of the salient points which emerged during the discussion.

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Summary of Secretariat report
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The review enables the TPRB to conduct a collective examination of the full range of trade policies and practices of each WTO member countries at regular periodic intervals to monitor significant trends and developments which may have an impact on the global trading system.

The review is based on two reports which are prepared respectively by the WTO Secretariat and the government under review and which cover all aspects of the country's trade policies, including its domestic laws and regulations, the institutional framework, bilateral, regional and other preferential agreements, the wider economic needs and the external environment. A record of the discussion and the Chairperson's summing-up together with these two reports will be published in due course at the complete trade policy review of Cameroon and will be available from the WTO Secretariat, Centre William Rappard, 154 rue de Lausanne, 1211 Geneva 21.

Since December 1989, the following reports have been completed: Argentina (1992 and 1999), Australia (1989, 1994 and 1998), Austria (1992), Bahrain (2000) Bangladesh (1992 and 2000), Benin (1997), Bolivia (1993 and 1999), Botswana (1998), Brazil (1992, 1996 and 2000), Burkina Faso (1998), Cameroon (1995 and 2001), Canada (1990, 1992, 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000), Chile (1991 and 1997), Colombia (1990 and 1996), Costa Rica (1995), Côte d’Ivoire (1995), Cyprus (1997), the Czech Republic (1996), the Dominican Republic (1996), Egypt (1992 and 1999), El Salvador (1996), the European Communities (1991, 1993, 1995, 1997 and 2000), Fiji (1997), Finland (1992), Gabon (2001), Ghana (1992 and 2001), Guinea (1999), Hong Kong (1990, 1994 and 1998), Hungary (1991 and 1998), Iceland (1994 and 2000), India (1993 and 1998), Indonesia (1991, 1994 and 1998), Israel (1994 and 1999), Jamaica (1998), Japan (1990, 1992, 1995,1998 and 2000), Kenya (1993 and 2000), Korea, Rep. of (1992, 1996 and 2000), Lesotho (1998), Macau (1994), Madagascar (2001), Malaysia (1993 and 1997), Mali (1998), Mauritius (1995), Mexico (1993 and 1997), Morocco (1989 and 1996), New Zealand (1990 and 1996), Namibia (1998), Nicaragua (1999), Nigeria (1991 and 1998), Norway (1991, 1996 and 2000), Pakistan (1995), Papua New Guinea (1999), Paraguay (1997), Peru (1994 and 2000), the Philippines (1993), Poland (1993), Romania (1992 and 1999), Senegal (1994), Singapore (1992, 1996 and 2000), Slovak Republic (1995), the Solomon Islands (1998), South Africa (1993 and 1998), Sri Lanka(1995), Swaziland (1998), Sweden (1990 and 1994), Switzerland (1991, 1996 and 2000 (jointly with Liechtenstein), Tanzania (2000), Thailand (1991, 1995 and 1999), Togo (1999), Trinidad and Tobago (1998), Tunisia (1994), Turkey (1994 and 1998), the United States (1989, 1992, 1994, 1996 and 1999), Uganda (1995), Uruguay (1992 and 1998), Venezuela (1996), Zambia (1996) and Zimbabwe (1994).


I have a very strong feeling that the second review of Cameroon's trade policy has been a distinct success. We have all learned a great deal about Cameroon, and we have been able to familiarize ourselves more closely with its economic and trade situation. We have had a very productive dialogue regarding both its economic reforms and the part played in that process by its trade policy. We have also been able to appreciate the extent of the tasks which remain, in particular as regards good governance and the alleviation of poverty.

Members have congratulated the Government of Cameroon on the steps it has taken to improve its integration into the multilateral trading system. The existence of a National Technical Committee with responsibility for following up questions relating to the WTO has been welcomed as a positive contribution in this respect. Similarly, the information provided by the Cameroonian delegation concerning recent notifications was much appreciated, since it demonstrated the Government's firm intention to honour its commitments within the WTO. In this connection, the country's technical assistance and capacity-building requirements have been recognized, and several delegations clearly indicated their willingness to help.

Most speakers expressed satisfaction at the recovery of the Cameroonian economy, assisted by structural reforms and a favourable external environment. Members appreciated the efforts which Cameroon is making to introduce important institutional and economic reforms designed to improve its competitiveness and promote its closer integration into the world economy. Many of the questions posed by delegations concerned the strategy adopted by the authorities to carry forward the structural reforms, including in the areas of privatization, investment and promotion of the private sector. Some speakers also inquired about the measures that the Government is taking to support its agricultural, mining and industrial development policy. Delegations welcomed the fact that Cameroon had become an observer with respect to the plurilateral Agreement on Government Procurement and encouraged it to ensure greater transparency in that field.

Most speakers noted Cameroon's participation in the Central African Economic and Monetary Community (CAEMC). Cameroon was invited to assume a leadership role in the regional integration process. Some delegations drew attention to the low-level of participation of CAEMC countries in Cameroon's trade and asked for further information on how Cameroon had benefited from its participation in the CAEMC.

As far as Cameroon's sectoral policies are concerned, delegations focused mainly on the agricultural sector, the need for sustainable management of natural resources (in particular, forests), and the need for improved performance in the services sector. Some delegations stressed that liberalization of the services sector was an important part of the efforts to modernize the economy. Cameroon was accordingly invited to extend its commitments under GATS, particularly in the areas of telecommunications, financial services and transport, within the context of the negotiations in progress.

Specific questions were also posed on subjects such as:

  • Customs procedures, the operation of the single window; pre-shipment inspection;

  • customs valuation; here I congratulate Cameroon for having implemented the WTO's Customs Valuation Agreement as of 1 July 2001;

  • the level of the rate of customs duties applied; the coverage of tariff bindings and the level of bound rates;

  • value added tax (VAT);

  • the procedures for granting import licences;

  • the protection of intellectual property and implementation of the TRIPS Agreement;

  • the non-existence of an independent official body for evaluating economic and trade policies;

  • the Investment Code; and

  • limitations on market access for Cameroonian exports.

The delegation of Cameroon gave written and oral replies to most of the questions posed. The Cameroonian delegation has also promised to send more detailed replies to the few remaining questions. These did much to clarify Cameroon's trade policy and the measures currently in force.

In conclusion, it seems to me that we can all congratulate Cameroon on its continuing efforts to liberalize and further develop its economy. Members have recognized Cameroon's need to receive technical assistance to strengthen its human resource capacities, thereby enabling it to fulfil its obligations within the context of the WTO. This would also facilitate Cameroon's closer integration into the multilateral trading system and allow it to benefit from the advantages this would bring. Many speakers invited the Cameroon Government to draw up a list of its substantial technical assistance needs. They also invited it to press ahead with its structural reforms and its efforts to promote greater transparency in its legal and institutional systems. Speakers encouraged Cameroon to bind, within the framework of the WTO, not only all its tariff lines but also its liberalization measures in the services sector. These efforts were regarded as essential to give the liberalization of the economy greater credibility and to attract the foreign investment so necessary in Cameroon's current situation.