8.06.2014

Cameroon-U.S. Relations: Brighter Economic Prospects !

By Godlove BAINKONG, Cameroon Tribune, 05-08-2014
For over 60 years now, the two countries have moved places in trade and investment, but they could do better.
Economic cooperation between Cameroon and the USA dates as far back as 60 years with much to show in terms of mutually-beneficial trade, investment and the improvement of the business climate.
Although statistics show that trade between the two countries over the years has been negative for Cameroon, as it imports more than it exports to USA, the exchanges have however been stable.
Cameroon, reports say, does not figure yet on the list of first ten African countries that have tapped maximum benefits from the 2000 American legislation, the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), owing to its inability to produce quantity and quality products highly needed in the American markets. Experts say the absence of a regular consultative framework between the two countries led to the reticence of America which would have otherwise facilitated the clearance of certain hinderances to the smooth flow of goods and services.
Reports in 2011, show, an improvement in trade between the two countries as their volume of trade grew by 26 per cent. Today, there is noticeable interest of American companies in Cameroon notably in sectors like mining, agriculture, telecommunications, hotel management, agriculture and aviation. For instance, an American firm, Geovic, is currently investing over 400 billion dollars in mineral development in the East Region of Cameroon. This is said to be the highest investment by an American firm in Sub-Saharan Africa. Other American companies like AES Sonel, Coca Cola, and SG Sustainable Oils Cameroon have made and continue to leave their mark in Cameroon.
Efforts have been underway to make the investments reciprocal. For instance, in 2013, International Multiracial Shared Cultural Organization’s CEO, Fanck Weston led a delegation to Cameroon to present America’s investment opportunities to potential investors here.
60 years of economic cooperation, eventhough the ratio of gain is not one: one, is time ripe enough to draw a balance sheet, celebrate where need be and strengthen cooperation for more gains. And the first-ever U.S.-Africa Summit currently going on in Washington DC is a forum par excellence to chart the way forward. Fortunately, it is holding on the theme, “Investing for the next generation.” And for the future generations to reap more benefits from the cooperation therefore, there is need to surmount challenges like local processing of products before exports, improvement of the business climate which has been a persistent concern of the Americans and the easing of administrative procedures for investment. In return, the American government could seize the opportunity of the rich natural resources and the country’s socio-political stability to start business for win-win cooperation.

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