Cameroon-China - A Cooperation of Mutual Benefit

There is still a long way to go for the diversification of Cameroon's exports to China and push for deals that create domestic jobs and transfer skills and technology.

Cameroon and China are age-old partners that have been entertaining rich and highly diversified ties since 1971. Rooted in the desire to gain prosperous future for their respective peoples, there is still a long way to go for the diversification of Cameroon's exports to China.

China is Cameroon's second top export destination with USD488 million in 2017, after France with USD559 million. The majority of Cameroon's exports to its partners remains in natural resources; crude petroleum, sawn wood, rough wood and agricultural products. Cameroon's imports from China in 2017 stood at USD1.06 billion and USD548 million, according to OEC statistics.

As regards the continent, Chinese manufactured goods make up over 80 percent of China's exports to Africa. In Cameroon, these products include furniture, electronics, clothing, building materials, cosmetics, jewellery, children's toys flooding markets in Douala and Yaounde and other cities, towns and villages. October marks 70 years of diplomatic ties between Africa and China. The achievements of these ties were also celebrated in Beijing alongside commemorative activities of China's National Day on October 1, 2019. In terms of trade, China's exports to Africa were USD33.29 billion in January- April, 2019, up 5.6 percent year on year and imports from Africa were USD32.75 billion, up 1.1 percent year on year; the trade surplus was USD540 million, according to Chinese Ministry of Commerce website. Africa has invested over USD15 billion in China by 2014, most of which are in machinery, pharmaceuticals, and high-tech ventures like electronics. Chinese President Xi Jinping renewed another USD60 billion financing pledge for Africa during the triennial Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) in 2018. As to Cameroon, there is much not only in terms of financing but also expert inputs in sectors like hydroelectric dams, new hospitals, road infrastructure, housing and also swanky sport complexes. Chinese researcher Yun Sun notes in an article: "The majority of Chinese financing in Africa is not free grants, but loans and investments. In the past, many of the loan agreements had been backed by Africa's natural resources, as shown by the famous Angola model. Currently... China is trying to downplay the role of natural resources in Sino- Africa relations and to evolve toward new models of economic cooperation. However, despite the sound logic, a key question emerges: If the Chinese loans are no longer backed or repaid with Africanresources, what are they backed and paid with? There is no consensus on the answer even among Chinese analysts."

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