A Central African nation on the continent’s western coast, the Republic of Cameroon shipped an estimated US$4.5 billion worth of goods around the globe in 2018. That dollar amount results from a -12% decline since 2014 but a 39.1% uptick from 2017 to 2018.
In addition, Cameroon furnished an estimated $1.9 billion worth of international services during 2018 encompassing about $591.5 million from transport-related and $524.4 million for travel-related services.
Based on estimates from the Central Intelligence Agency’s World Factbook, Cameroon’s exported goods plus services represent 21.6% of total Cameroonian economic output or Gross Domestic Product. Please note that the overall value of exported goods and services includes re-exports. The analysis below focuses on exported products only.
The latest available country-specific data shows that 80.9% of products exported from Cameroon were bought by importers in: Italy (13.9% of the global total), China (12.1%), France (10.5%), Netherlands (9.6%), Spain (9%), India (6.9%), Belgium (5.4%), Portugal (3.5%), Vietnam (3.1%), Bangladesh (2.5%), Malaysia (2.4%) and the United States (2.2%).
From a continental perspective and using 2017 trade data, $1.7 billion or 54.9% of Cameroonian exports by value were delivered to European countries while 30.7% was sold to importers in Asia. Cameroon shipped another 11.9% worth of goods to fellow African nations with 2.3% going to North America.
Given Cameroon’s population of 25.6 million people, its total $4.5 billion in 2018 exports translates to roughly $180 for every resident in the central west African country.
Trading Economics forecasted that Cameroon’s unemployment rate was 4.3% as of September 2019.
Cameroon’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups represent the highest dollar value in Cameroonian global shipments during 2018. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Cameroon.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$2 billion (45.1% of total exports)
- Wood: $772.9 million (17%)
- Cocoa: $662.4 million (14.6%)
- Gems, precious metals: $416.5 million (9.2%)
- Fruits, nuts: $255.1 million (5.6%)
- Aluminum: $120.4 million (2.7%)
- Rubber, rubber articles: $51.9 million (1.1%)
- Cotton: $46.6 million (1%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $36 million (0.8%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $15.9 million (0.3%)
Cameroon’s top 10 exports accounted for 97.5% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Gems and precious metals was the fastest-growing among the top 10 export categories, up by 134,694% since 2017 propelled by accelerated international sales of gold.
In second place for improving export sales was the fruits and nuts category which gained 301.5% led by bananas.
Cameroon’s shipments of electrical machinery and equipment posted the third-fastest gain in value, up by 145.3%.
The leading decliner among the top 10 Cameroonian export categories was cotton, depreciating -39.1% year over year.
The following types of Cameroonian product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Mineral fuels including oil: US$1.6 billion (Up by 132% since 2017)
- Wood: $767.8 million (Up by 53.2%)
- Cocoa: $658.9 million (Up by 24%)
- Gems, precious metals: $415.4 million (Up by 1,730,908%)
- Fruits, nuts: $247.5 million (Up by 325.4%)
- Aluminum: $57.4 million (Down by -47.6%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $26.5 million (Down by -34.1%)
- Lead: $8.3 million (Up by 31%)
- Collector items, art, antiques: $4.7 million (Up by 5218%)
- Copper: $2.9 million (Reversing a $2.2 million deficit)
Cameroon has highly positive net exports in the international trade of crude oil and petroleum gases. In turn, these cashflows indicate Cameroon’s strong competitive advantages under the mineral fuels including oil category.
Overall Cameroon incurred a -$1.3 billion product trade deficit for 2018, down by -31.5% from -$1.9 billion red ink one year earlier.
Below are exports from Cameroon that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Cameroon’s goods trail Cameroonian importer spending on foreign products.
- Electrical machinery, equipment: US-$624.5 million (Up by 81.7% since 2017)
- Machinery including computers: -$590.9 million (Up by 25.2%)
- Vehicles: -$364.2 million (Up by 6.9%)
- Cereals: -$357.2 million (Down by -29.5%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$309.4 million (Up by 139.5%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$223.8 million (Up by 41.3%)
- Pharmaceuticals: -$189.6 million (Down by -16.2%)
- Fish: -$165 million (Down by -15.5%)
- Iron, steel: -$137.8 million (Down by -8.5%)
- Other chemical goods: -$124.9 million (Up by 11%)
Cameroon has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits under the electrical machinery and equipment category especially for mobile phones.
Cameroonian Export Companies
Not one Cameroonian corporation ranks among Forbes Global 2000 largest companies on a worldwide scale.
Wikipedia lists companies from Cameroon that participate in international trade transactions. Selected examples are shown below:
- Brasseries du Cameroun (beer)
- Cargo Airways International (industrial airliner)
- Commercial Bank Cameroon (bank)
- Elysian Airlines (industrial airliner)
- National Financial Credit Bank (bank)
- Société Nationale des Hydrocarbures (oil, gas)
- Union Bank of Cameroon (bank)
Cameroon’s capital city is Yaoundé nicknamed the “City of Seven Hills”.
See also Top South African Trading Partners, Kenya’s Top 10 Exports and Top African Export Countries
Central Intelligence Agency, The World Factbook Country Profiles. Accessed on September 10, 2019
FlagPictures.org, Flag of Cameroon. Accessed on September 10, 2019
Forbes, Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on September 10, 2019
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Databases (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on September 10, 2019
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on September 10, 2019
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on September 10, 2019
Wikipedia, Cameroon. Accessed on September 10, 2019
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Cameroon. Accessed on September 10, 2019
World’s Capital Cities, Capital Facts for Yaoundé, Cameroon. Accessed on September 10, 2019