Cameroon - Country Commercial Guide
Market Overview
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Cameroon has experienced steady but slow growth over the last 20 years.  Per World Bank statistics, Cameroon’s real gross domestic product (GDP)  growth was projected to reach 4.0 percent in 2022 and 4.6 percent by 2024, despite the global economic turmoil.  Inflation has been moderate over the same period, as the local currency, the Central African Franc, is pegged to the Euro.  Despite belonging to the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC), Cameroon has a negligible trade relationship with Chad, Equitorial Guinea, Gabon, Central African Republic, and Republic of Congo (Brazzaville), the other five member states. 

In 2023, Cameroon had a population of roughly 28 million people and a per capita GDP of $1,650, though income and wealth are mostly concentrated in Yaoundé, the capital, and Douala, the commercial center of the country.

The OECD ranked Cameroon the 86th economy in the world in 2021 in terms of GDP (current US$), the 147th economy in terms of GDP per capita (current US$) and the 121st most complex economy according to the Economic Complexity Index (ECI).  In 2021, Cameroon exported $5.9 billion of goods and services and imported $7.8 billion, resulting in a negative trade balance of $1.9 billion, according to Massachussets Institute of Technology statistics.  Cameroon’s top exports were crude petroleum ($1.89 billion constituting 37.9% of total exports), petroleum gas ($795 million (16.2%)), cocoa beans ($563 million (11.4%)), sawn wood ($437 million (8.87%)), gold ($312 million (6.34%)), , rough wood ($196 million (3.98%)), bananas ($106 million (2.15%)), cocoa butter ($99.7 million (2.03%)), raw aluminum ($96.9 million (1.97%)),  cocoa paste ($80.9 million (1.64%)), and raw cotton ($72.5 million (1.47%)).  The top export destinations were China ($1.43 billion (28.9%)), the Netherlands ($668 million (13.6%)), India ($421 million (8.55%)),Italy ($350 million (7.12%)), United Arab Emirates ($278 million (5.65%)), France ($256 million (5.21%)), Spain ($231 million (4.69%)) and the United States ($191 million (3.88%)). 

In 2022, Cameroon imported $7.96 billion, making it the 117th largest trade destination in the world.  During the last five reported years imports grew by $2.01B from $5.96B in 2016 to $7.96B in 2021.  In the most recent reporting year, imports were led by Special Purpose Ships ($495M), Refined Petroleum ($382M), Other Furniture ($333M), Rice ($327M), and Wheat ($256M).  The largest import sources were China ($2.71B), France ($621M), Nigeria ($551M), India ($391M), and Russia ($308M).  Imports from the United States totaled $103.1 million in 2022.

President Paul Biya has ruled the country since 1982.  He was elected for his seventh consecutive term in October 2018 in an election considered to be flawed.  Freedom House considers Cameroon to be “Not Free.”  In 2023, the country has continued to experience attacks from Boko Haram in the Far North Region, the continued presence and influx of refugees from the Central African Republic and other countries, and a violent separatist movement in the Northwest and Southwest Regions.  These combined security challenges will dampen economic growth over the short and medium term. 

Despite these challenges, Cameroon remains one of the most stable countries in the Central Africa sub-region.  It is strategically located between Nigeria, a market of 186 million people, and the oil-rich CEMAC region with 50 million potential consumers.  Cameroon has the potential to serve as a hub for major regional energy and transportation infrastructure projects for all of Central Africa, and in fact is already playing this role in multiple ways.

In July 2021, the IMF approved a three-year, $689.5 million hybrid Extended Credit Facility and Extended Fund Facility to respond principally to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and institute macroeconomic structural reforms.  This program follows the completion of a three-year, $666 million Extended Credit Facility the IMF approved in 2017 to address the twin shocks of low oil prices and security issues. In May 2023, the IMF conducted the fourth review of the July 2021 hybrid Extended Credit Facility-Extended Fund Facility (ECF-EFF) program.  By this review, Cameroon’s economy continues to improve following COVID-19, with growth projected to reach 4.0 percent in 2023 from an estimated 3.7 percent in 2022. Inflation is expected to decline from 7.3 percent in 2022 to 5.9 percent by the end of 2023. The IMF approved in June 2023 another $73.8 million disbursement, to total $220.7 million in disbursements to date under the ECF-EFF.Political Environment

Political and Economic Environment

Visit the State Department’s website for background on Cameroon’s political and economic environment.