12.11.2015

Economic Partnership Agreement: Cameroon’s Readiness Questioned

By Victorine BIY; Cameroon Tribune
Press men gathered in Yaounde yesterday to understand government’s preparedness to implement the agreement.
Media professionals of the Network for Citizens Association for the Defence of Collective Interests have expressed worries over Cameroon’s readiness to opening up its market to the European Union in August 2016. The network says liberalising its market at 80 per cent to the European market
might be harzardous if the country is not prepared to face stiff competition that is expected to come with the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement, EPA.
 Yvonne Takang, Permanent Secretary of the Association, maintained at the opening of the workshop in Yaounde yesterday December 10, 2015, that government was not communicating on the level its of preparedness to implement the EPA.
Barrister Désiré Loumou, working with the Committee in charge of the Follow-up of the Implementation of the Bilateral EPA between Cameroon and the EU, said it was a whole process with many actors involved. He stressed that; “Each of them must be ready and for it to happen, we need more time.” He said efforts have been made, but they were working to improve the competitivessnes of local companies.
Land and tax reforms are on course and are expected to contribute to the consolidation of the process. The national and regional programme to upgrade enterprises is also part of the activities to get the country ready. Barrister Loumou is of the opinion that it will be premature now to evaluate Cameroon’s readiness for the EPA partnership. “Negotiations are not ended. We are still negotiating on some accompanying measures and will evaluate the path covered in due time.”
This notwithstanding, Cameroon has already drawn up as well as adopted a plan to modernise the economy, and a project of common rules of origin in the context of the EPA as required. The document has been handed to the EU. Cameroon has also set up a calendar to open its market as well as a national position on enterprise qualification. Major projects of the Regional Development Programme of EPA have been identified. Joseph Yombo, representative of the Ministry of the Economy, Planning and Regional Development and member of the Committee in charge of the Follow-up of the Implementation of the Bilateral EPA says government is not lying on its laurels.
The Trade and Economic Chargée d’Affaires for the EU in Cameroon said; “We understand that Cameroon still has development needs”. She said the EU was opening up its market gradually. She revealed that it did not mean that by August next year, the market will be liberalised for all imports to Europe. “It will only be some products to start with. Cameroon has decided to liberalise only 80 per cent; so all agriculture products will remain protected,” she stressed.

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