Cameroon’s Economy to Grow by 6% in 2017 Says Finance Minister

YAOUNDE (Capital Markets in Africa) –  Cameroon’s economy is set to expand 6 percent this year even as it imposes new taxes to compensate for a decline in government revenue from oil, Finance Minister Alamine Ousmane Mey said.

The central African nation last month approved the introduction of 24 taxes that apply to a wide range of goods and services, including second-hand car imports and exports of timber, Mey said in a Jan. 3 interview in the capital, Yaounde. At the same time, the government will boost agriculture by making it easier and cheaper for farmers to buy equipment, pesticides and fertilizers, he said. The economy was forecast to expand by 4.8 percent in 2016, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Cameroon is the world’s fifth-largest cocoa grower and Africa’s third-largest producer of palm oil, while smallholder farmers grow cash crops such as tomatoes for regional export. Agriculture is “an essential element of our economy considering the number of people involved,” Mey said.

This year’s budget was calculated on an average oil price of $40 per barrel, with income from crude accounting for 25 percent of the 2016 budget. Cameroon produced almost 35 million barrels in 2015, according to the state oil company. Brent crude traded at $53.22 per barrel at 12:10 p.m. on Thursday.

“I must admit the challenges at a time when the global macroeconomic environment does not appear encouraging,” Mey said. “But we look at the long term and we are used to dealing with these challenges. Our economy, as it was in 2015 and 2016, will be resilient.”

The $29 billion economy hosted leaders of the six countries of the Economic Community of Central African States last month to discuss the impact of the oil slump, which was exacerbated by deadly militant attacks in Cameroon and Chad. Regional growth slowed to 1 percent last year, from 1.5 percent in 2015, according to the Bank of Central African States.

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