Central African Republic: AfCFTA Focus - Central African Republic

ON 1 January this year, trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) became operational. The agreement pushes for a liberalised trade regime that would gradually lead to an integrated continental market with import tariffs phased out on 97% of tariff lines within 10 to 13 years.

The Namibian's AfCFTA Focus brings you fresh insight on what is available in other African countries - creating a possible gateway to collaboration and exports/import opportunities. Every week, every Wednesday.

Focus country of the week: Central African Republic

Capital city: Bangui

President: Faustin-Archange Touadéra

Population size: 4,7 million people

Official language: Sango, French

Shares borders with: Cameroon, Chad, Sudan, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Congo (Brazzaville).

Currency: Central African franc (CFA)

Exchange rate: N$1 = CFA37,36

Repo rate: 3,25%

Banks: Five banks

Inflation rate: 3,34%

Corporate tax rate: 73,3%

Value-added tax rate: 19%

Tax treaty with Namibia: No

Economic overview: Agriculture is the largest sector and the basis of the Central African Republic's economy, contributing to half of the gross domestic product (GDP) and occupying nearly four fifths of the workforce. Diamonds and timber also contribute to the economy.

International (mostly French) capital dominates the economy, but the Central African Republic (CAR) has tried since independence to attract capital and development funds from other countries, including Libya, Taiwan, China, Germany, and Japan.

Most CAR citizens rely on farming for their livelihoods. Men clear the fields, while cultivation is largely the responsibility of women, who grow cassava (manioc), corn (maize), millet, sorghum, rice, squashes, and peanuts (groundnuts) for consumption. Cash crops such as cotton and coffee, introduced by French plantation owners, are produced largely on smallholding.

The country is mostly self-sufficient regarding basic food items, and agricultural diversification has been encouraged by the government. The growing of vegetables for export has also been supported by the government.

Although Central Africans have for some time cultivated sugar cane and palm oil on a small scale, the country has lately undertaken efforts to grow both of these crops on large, mechanised plantations.

The livestock population includes cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, and poultry, most of which are kept for domestic consumption. Pond-raised tilapia and river fish also contribute substantially to protein in their diet.

The presence of the tsetse fly reduces the area in which stock can be raised, but development programmes to improve herds and herd migrations from Chad and Sudan continue to increase the number of domestic animals in the country.

Tropical rainforests cover a significant part of the Central African Republic, mainly in the south-western area, and timber exports are a vital source of foreign exchange.

Heavy reliance on international commodity markets, however, has rendered the country's economy extremely vulnerable to price fluctuations.

Major exports: Timber, diamonds, cotton, and coffee

Major imports: Refined petroleum, packaged medicaments, petroleum gas, broadcasting equipment, and used clothing

Main export markets: China, the United Arab Emirates, France, the United States, and Italy

Main import markets: India, France, the United States, China and the Netherlands

GDP: US$2,2 billion

Govt debt/GDP: 47,18% (2020)

GDP growth 2021 estimate: 3,49%

Interesting fact: The Central African Republic is home to the Pygmy people, who are known to be typically under five feet tall. The word 'pygmy' originates from the Greek word for 'dwarfish', although Pygmys are conventionally proportioned.

* Compiled by: Lazarus Amukeshe

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