Frequently Asked Questions

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) was officially launched on 7 July 2019 at the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) in Niamey. As at April 2023, 54 of the AU's 55 member States had signed the AfCFTA Agreement, and 46 members had ratified it by the same date.

The overall objectives of the AfCFTA are to:

  • Create a single market for goods, services, facilitated by the movement of persons, in order to further the economic integration of the African continent and in accordance with the Pan African Vision of “An integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa” enshrined in Agenda 2063;
  • Create a liberalised market for goods and services through successive of negotiations;
  • Contribute to the movement of capital and natural resources and facilitate investments building on the initiatives and developments being undertaken by the State Parties and RECs;
  • Lay the foundation for the establishment of a Continental Customs Union at a later stage;
  • Promote and attain sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development, gender equality and structural transformation of the State Parties;
  • Enhance the competitiveness of the economies of State Parties within the continent and the global market;
  • Promote industrial development through diversification and regional value chain development, agricultural development and food security;
  • Resolve the challenges of multiple and overlapping memberships and expedite the regional and continental integration process. 

History of the AfCFTA

  • January 2012- Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Adoption of the decision to "expedite the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) with a view to boosting intra-African trade" during the 18th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government.

  • June 2015- Johannesburg, South Africa

Launch of negotiations for the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) at the 25th Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government.

  • March 2018- Kigali, Rwanda

Signing of the Agreement establishing the African Continental Free Trade Area at the 10th Extraordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government by 44 of the 55 member States of the African Union.

  • 30 May 2019- Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Entry into force of the AfCFTA Agreement, following the 22nd deposit of an instrument of ratification by the Saharawi Republic on 29 April 2019.

  • July 2019- Niamey, Niger

Launch of the operational phase of the AfCFTA during the 12th Extraordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government.

  • 10 February 2020- Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Election of H.E. Wamkele Mene as the first Secretary General of the AfCFTA during the 33rd Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly of Heads of State and Government.

  • 19 March 2020- Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

Swearing in of H.E. Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of AfCFTA at the headquarters of the African Union.

  • 17 August 2020- Accra, Ghana

Reception and commissioning of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Secretariat building.

  • 1 January 2021- Johannesburg, South Africa

Launch of trade under AfCFTA at the 13th AU Extraordinary Session on AfCFTA.

  • 07 October 2022- Accra, Ghana

Launch of the Guided Trade Initiative as the first significant effort to promote trade under the AfCFTA.

AfCFTA's achievements

  • The commissioning and operationalization of the AfCFTA Secretariat building in Ghana;
  • Launch of trade under AfCFTA;
  • 46 States Parties in June 2023, following the 45th and 46th deposit of instruments of ratification by Botswana and Comoros in February 2023;
  • Launch of the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) in collaboration with the African import-export bank (Afreximbank);
  • Signing of the AfCFTA Adjustment Fund management agreement with Afreximbank;
  • Launch of the new AfCFTA website:;
  • Launch of the electronic tariff book on the official AfCFTA website;
  • Launch of the AfCFTA Rules of Origin Manual;
  • Signing of an 11 million USD grant agreement with the African Development Bank;
  • First face-to-face AfCFTA Business Forum to be held in Cape Town, South Africa, from 16 to 18 April 2023.


Customs controls



        Clearance phase

Competent customs office(s)





Immediate control

This control is done on the imported goods and also includes the verification of relevant documentation (import declaration, commercial invoice, etc.).



At the port of discharge




Before and during the removal of goods

Front line customs service:

-Manifest Verification Unit

-Scanner (SGS)

-ECOR customs declaration

Official customs violation report, possibly accompanied by the cargo seizure report in the event of a disputed declaration.




Deferred customs controls

This consists in checking the accuracy of previous customs declarations by means of in-depth documentary checks on the goods.



        Competent customs office such as port 1, 2, 3, etc.



After removal of the goods



Customs Sector


Official report on the absence of a violation drawn up and signed by both parties or an official customs violation report signed by all parties and given to the party subject to the customs control.


Posteriori customs control


This involves analysing the customs operations of a given entity over a given period of time




Company's head-office

After removal of goods. At most 3 months after the signing of the report initiating investigations. Period could be extended.



Chief of Customs Sector



Control report and evaluation of monitoring measures

Administrative methods for the resolution of customs litigations


                             ADMISSIBILITY CONDITIONS

Competent Customs service / office

The customs transaction

(This is a quick settlement method by mutual agreement between the parties)

Official statement of offence

Written request for settlement

Prior payment of evaded customs duties and taxes

Payment of a guarantee deposit set by the Transaction Commission


Transaction Commission / Customs Sector










Appeals against customs violations



                                 (FIRST RESORT)

This appeal is only admissible based on the following conditions:


The statement of offence must have been signed with explicit reservations on the various findings of the competent service and filed within 30 business days;

  1. The request for appeal must, under penalty of foreclosure, be addressed directly to the Director General of Customs within thirty (30) business days from the notification of the contested official report and the possible fine;
  2. The request for appeal must clearly state the various findings contained in the official report and provide arguments or evidence to the contrary for each point;
  3. The request for appeal must be accompanied by a bid bond, the amount of which must correspond either to the full value of the contested customs duties and taxes, or to 20% of the duties or of the stipulated fine when no duties and taxes have been evaded.

d- A copy of the appeal and of the litigation report shall be submitted at the same time to the customs enforcement service.

e- The Director General of Customs has a period of thirty (30) days to give a decision upon receipt of the appeal. Failure to respond within this time frame shall be construed as a rejection.










Director General of Customs







Appeals against customs violations

                                (SECOND RESORT) 


a- In the event of tacit or express rejection by the Director General of Customs, the controlled entity may, under penalty of foreclosure, lodge a new appeal within thirty (30) days with the arbitration commission for customs litigations.


MINFI Arbitration Commission





Appeals against customs violations


                                          (THIRD RESORT) 


a-When a taxpayer contests a decision rendered by the arbitration commission for customs litigations, he/she shall refer the matter to the Council of Ministers of the Economic Community of Central African States (UEAC) within thirty (30) business days from the decision's notification date. This referral shall not suspend the application of the said decision.

b- Without prejudice to the provisions of the Customs Code, the judicial authorities are competent to rule only if all the above-mentioned administrative means of appeal have been unsuccessful.

c- When lodging non-judicial appeals, the controlled entity may be assisted by an approved customs expert of their choice.





 Council of Ministers of the Economic Community of Central African States (UEAC)







Cancellation of a customs declaration



At the request of the importer or his licensed customs broker, the customs services may, on the basis of a report, authorise the annulment of a validated customs declaration where its amendment is not possible, particularly:

  1. when the request relates to the change of a customs procedure or when two customs declarations are mistakenly issued for the same goods;
  2. When the Customs service is convinced that the goods can no longer be placed under the Customs procedure initially chosen due to special circumstances;
  3. When Customs are convinced that the goods will immediately be placed under another Customs procedure;
  4. When the request for cancellation does not coincide with an ongoing control, an announced inspection visit or the collection of samples of the goods. In such a case, the request for cancellation shall not be accepted before the end of the current control or verification or before the physical inspection or collection of samples.

Unless otherwise specified, the request for the cancellation of the customs declaration may not be made more than fifteen (15) days after the validation of the initial declaration.

Cancellation of a customs declaration may not be authorised after the goods have been released or removed.





      Customs Brigade



       Customs control post



        Customs office





Legal Methods










Appeal for the annulment of a decision made by non-judicial bodies








After exhaustion of all non-judicial means of appeal



Administrative court: Litigation relating to legal acts (administrative decisions) -Disputes concerning the administration's liability for service fault - An erroneous interpretation of an administrative act - Actions by officials against administrative decisions.

Judicial court (In criminal matters): The courts of first instance in Cameroon have jurisdiction over contraventions and all customs matters brought before them by way of exception. The High Court has jurisdiction over all customs offences and issues arising from an exceptional customs measure as well as related customs offences resulting or connected to a common law or customs offence.


Judicial courts (In non-criminal matters): The courts of first instance are competent to hear disputes regarding the payment and refund of customs duties.

Customs controls are meant to ensure compliance with the laws and regulations that the customs administration is in charge of enforcing within the framework of foreign trade.

Goods intended for import or export are subject to customs and technical controls.

The export declaration is issued by the SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance), to which export files are submitted at least 72 hours before shipment. The SGS is also in charge of forwarding copies to the exporter’s bank and the administrations concerned.

This declaration is required to provide the statistics necessary for inspections, controls or issuance of certificates of origin especially for exports.

A natural or legal person interested in exercising foreign trade activities must:

  • Register as an importer or exporter;
  • Obtain an import or export declaration

The regime of freedom of foreign trade contributes to the vision of our country to step up its economic growth and improve on the business climate. Besides, while enhancing access to foreign markets, it adds to the attractiveness of Cameroon through foreign direct investment. This implies an increase in turnover and economic efficiency.

Excluded products include products that impinge on decency, security and public order, hygiene and health, protection of the environment, fauna and flora and the cultural heritage.

In the sense of the law of 2016/004 of 18 April 2016 governing foreign trade in Cameroon, imports and exports are subject to the freedom of foreign trade regime. In other words, except with specifically contrary provisions relating to products subject to declaration or authorisation, any person may import or export, on condition that the regulations relating to each type of product are respected.