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Cameroon in talks to rejoin US trade initiative

The Central African country was suspended from AGOA in 2019

Cameroon has resumed talks with the US to rejoin the Africa Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA) program after it was kicked out in 2019 for alleged human rights violations by its security forces.

The move to return to Washington’s flagship trade initiative is aimed at avoiding a potential debt crisis, Economy Minister Alamine Ousmane Mey said on Monday.

Speaking at an Atlantic Council think tank event on the sidelines of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meetings in Washington, Mey said Yaounde plans to improve its debt service coverage by ramping up exports.

We’re working to be able to improve our exports through import substitution policies to reduce imports, produce more and export more. This will give us better room for debt service coverage,” he said.

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The AGOA provides tariff-free access to the American market for eligible African countries. 

The IMF has classified Cameroon’s economy as being at high risk of debt distress. The country’s economic growth has climbed from 0.5% in 2020 to a predicted 4.3% in 2023.

Cameroon was suspended from the AGOA in 2019 by former US President Donald Trump due to allegations of “persistent gross violations of internationally recognized human rights” by the country’s security forces.

According to Mey, the Cameroonian government hopes to resolve all issues and problems raised in the talks with US officials to rejoin AGOA “in a very transparent and open manner.”

April 11, 2023 at 08:33PM

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