November 20, 2017 will forever remain etched in the annals of foreign trade in Cameroon. On that memorable day, the Governor of the Littoral Region, Mr. Samuel Dieudonné Ivaha Diboua chaired the official launching of Cameroon's first-ever digital portal set aside for international trade and cargo transport, called the Cameroon Trade Hub. "It is a very important international trade tool aimed at facilitating trade and ensuring greater transparency in commercial transactions," the Director General of the Cameroon National Shippers' Council (CNSC), Mr. Auguste Mbappe Penda said in his address.
The peculiarity of the event is that it held in the multipurpose hall of the Douala Maritime Museum draped in the colours of the CNSC, the owner of the Cameroon Trade Hub. It was attended by a large number of guests, including representatives of ministries, public and private companies, diplomatic missions, trade unions as well as trade and transport stakeholders based in Douala and beyond.
The official launching of the Cameroon Trade Hub by the CNSC marked the effective translation of the provisions of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) adopted on 7 December 2013 in Bali, Indonesia, by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and ratified by Cameroon through Presidential Decree of 25 April 2016. It entered into force on 22 February 2017. Article 1 of the agreement requires that WTO member countries should set up one or more inquiry points for import, export and transit operations.
The ceremony had two main thrusts. In his address, the CNSC General Manager, Mr. Auguste Mbappe Penda dwelled on the genesis of the trade hub. "Because of its core missions, the Cameroon National Shippers' Council naturally felt duty-bound to embark on the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement". As a reminder, CNSC's missions are to provide assistance to and protect the interests of shippers throughout the transport chain with a view to promoting Cameroon's foreign trade.
The highlight of the ceremony was the detailed presentation of The Cameroon Trade Hub by the CNSC Director for Facilitation and Transport Observatory, Mr. Alex Nkondje Ekenglo. The speaker presented the ten different headings in the two languages of the WTO, namely French and English. He put particular emphasis on the "Procedures" and "Transport Observatory" sections considered as the cornerstones of the web site. Using a stepwise approach, he highlighted some import, export and transit procedures for better understanding by attendees who were visibly satisfied with the launch of the Cameroon Trade Hub.