Customs Considerations When Exporting to Cameroon

Mufaddal K.

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Manufacturers looking to export their products abroad need to consider various factors when evaluating export markets.  One of those factors is the customs clearance infrastructure and processes within a given country.  This article presents an overview of the time and cost it takes for a local partner to clear imported products through customs in Cameroon.  This overview, along with a regional comparison, should help you better qualify Cameroon as an export market for your products.



Country Overview


Cameroon is located within the Sub-Saharan Africa region.  It has a population of roughly 25 million people as of 2018.  55% of the population lives in urban areas.  The World Bank categorizes it as a lower middle income country with a GDP per capita (PPP) of USD$3400 per person.



Regional Comparison


The "World Bank's Doing Business project" publishes an evaluation of countries based on their efficiency of cross border trade.  When assessing import efficiency within a country it primarily reviews four factors:


1.  The time for border compliance (imports):  Compliance time associated with the country's customs regulations, inspections and handling that takes place at its port or border.  Assumes a US$50,000 imported shipment of auto parts weighing 15 tons for calculation purposes.


2.  The cost of border compliance (imports):  Compliance cost associated with the country's customs regulations, inspections and handling that takes place at its port or border.  Assumes a US$50,000 imported shipment of auto parts weighing 15 tons for calculation purposes.


3.  The time for document compliance (imports):  The time for obtaining documents, preparing documents, processing documents, presenting documents and submitting documents.  Assumes a US$50,000 imported shipment of auto parts weighing 15 tons for calculation purposes.


4.  The cost of document compliance (imports):  The cost for obtaining documents, preparing documents, processing documents, presenting documents and submitting documents.  Assumes a US$50,000 imported shipment of auto parts weighing 15 tons for calculation purposes.



When evaluating border compliance time and cost amongst major regional economies, Cameroon ranks 15th regionally in terms of border compliance time and 16th regionally in terms of border compliance cost.  A US$50,000 imported shipment of auto parts would take 271 hours to clear border customs and cost roughly US$1407.


Country    Border Compliance Time (Hours)    Border Compliance Cost (USD)   
Namibia 6 $145
Rwanda 86 $282
Mozambique 14 $354
Zambia 120 $380
Uganda 154 $412
Cote d'Ivoire 125 $456
Mali 98 $545
Mauritania 69 $580
South Africa 144 $657
Ethiopia 166 $738
Kenya 180 $833
Guinea 91 $909
Somalia 85 $952
Angola 96 $1030
Nigeria 284 $1077
Cameroon 271 $1407
Republic of Congo 397 $1581
Democratic Republic of Congo 588 $3039


When evaluating document compliance time and cost amongst major regional economies, Cameroon ranks 13th regionally in terms of document compliance time and 17th regionally in terms of document compliance cost.  A US$50,000 imported shipment of auto parts would take 163 hours in Cameroon to have documents prepared & cleared and would cost roughly US$849.


Country    Document Compliance Time (Hours)    Document Compliance Cost (USD)   
Namibia 3 $63
Mali 77 $90
Kenya 60 $115
Rwanda 48 $121
Mozambique 24 $171
Zambia 72 $175
Guinea 156 $180
South Africa 36 $213
Cote d'Ivoire 89 $267
Uganda 138 $296
Somalia 76 $300
Republic of Congo 208 $310
Mauritania 64 $400
Angola 180 $460
Nigeria 173 $564
Ethiopia 194 $750
Cameroon 163 $849
Democratic Republic of Congo 216 $875


Detail for Border Compliance Time and Cost


Border compliance time and cost are calculated as a function of three driving factors: the time/cost related to working with customs authorities, the time/cost related to working with other agencies and finally border handling time/cost.  The border compliance time for Cameroon is primarily driven by border handling and border compliance cost is driven by all three factors.


Douala Overview:


Detail Type    Time (Hours)    Cost (USD)   
Working with Custom Authorities 72 $253
Working with Other Agencies 60 $652
Border Handling 211 $502


Detail of Document Compliance Time and Cost


Document compliance time and cost is a function of the various documents required by the country when importing goods.  For Douala, the documents required when importing goods from abroad include Import declaration, Commercial invoice, Packing list, Bill of lading, SGS certificate of conformity, Electronic cargo tracking note (BESC), Delivery order and SOLAS certificate.



Transportation Costs


Another factor that influences import trade efficiency is transportation costs.  For shipments bound to Douala, the port where goods would most likely land would be Douala port.  When calculating transportation cost for the US$50,000 auto parts shipment, the World Bank calculates that the shipment that would land at Douala port would need to be transported 15 km with an average travel time of 5 hours.  This brings the delivery transportation cost for the shipment to roughly US$283.



Infrastructure Digitization


Greater use of technology within the customs clearance process helps improve efficiency and lower time and cost associated with customs clearance.  Today many countries use digital systems to streamline the customs clearance process.  Many of these customs systems are known as EDI or Electronic Data Interchange systems.  More recently however, there has been a push to develop even more integrated customs clearance systems known as SW or single window systems.  These systems provide greater integration within a given country and between multiple countries when managing customs clearance.



Cameroon does have an EDI system known as ASYCUDA World/ASYCUDA++.  It also has an operating SW system known as Guichet Unique du Commerce Extérieur (GUCE).  More information about this system can be found at www.guichetunique-cameroun.org.