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AFRICAN CONTINENTAL FREE TRADE AREA: Cameroon selected for experimental phase

The Republic of Cameroon, alongside six other countries have been selected to lead the trial phase of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which seeks to ensure the unrestricted movement of goods and services in the continent. Tanzania, Tunisia, Kenya, Egypt, Mauritius and Ghana are the other countries that will alongside Cameroon champion the experimental phase of the initiative. The information was announced during the ninth meeting of the AfCFTA Council of Ministers that held in Ghana last week. By implication, Cameroon will freely trade its goods services beyond the Central African Economic and Monetary (CEMAC) zone during this pilot phase. Cameroon, for example, going by the experimental modalities, will have access to markets in the east, west and South African economic bloc. The selected nations will thus participate in the trail stage which seeks to promote trade outside economic blocs.

“The initiative seeks to demonstrate that AfCFTA is functioning and sends a political message to countries that are yet to submit their provisional schedules of tariff concessions in accordance with agreed modalities”, the Council highlighted. In all, over 36 countries presented tariff dismantling schedule as they sought to be part of the scheme and the seven afore-mentioned countries were selected from various regional economic blocs. Cameroon will thus trade selected products such as wood, banana, cocoa and cotton.

In essence, trading under AfCFTA officially started on January 1, 2021, but could not be implemented as problems regarding rules of origin remained unresolved, making it difficult to identify products that could enjoy the preferential tariff regime under the agreement. Specialists have been working to define these standards.

AfCFTA, so far is the largest free trade zone in the world as it covers 54 countries, 43 of which have already ratified the agreement.

Source:  Cameroon tribune N°12652/8851 of August 1, 2022.