The 13th edition of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community, CEMAC, day gave the opportunity to urge partners on trading conditions in the zone.
In his capacity as President of the Conference of CEMAC Heads of State, Cameroon’s President, Paul Biya, in a message on March 15 drew a balance sheet of the sub-regional state of affairs for the past year with proposals on what he feels should be done to stay afloat amidst storms.
One of the issues President Biya feels CEMAC can handle to cushion the effects of the global challenges at moment is trading with itself.
While post-Covid economic recovery remains an uphill task to all, the Head of State holds that, “This desired recovery must be underpinned by stronger economic exchanges between our States.”
Obviously so as the current volume of trade within the CEMAC sub region is estimated at about 3% of total trade with the rest of the world. Far too little to ensure optimal prosperity and economic resilience.
The choice of this year’s theme, “Strengthening Trade between CEMAC countries for Strong, Sustainable, Inclusive and Employment-generating Post-Covid Economic Recovery at the dawn of a Sub-Regional Industrialization Vision,” is therefore logical.
But beyond mere wishes to have CEMAC optimally trade with itself; which has been said time and again with very little to show in terms of success, there is need to go further. There is a price to pay.
It is imperative to dismantle barriers that have held down intra-CEMAC trade for long now. Mutually-beneficial sub regional trade would have been fruit of effective integration.
Regrettably, it is yet to move from declarations during high-level meetings to concrete reality. CEMAC countries continue to block their borders from neighbours for fear of the unknown. Some continue to see others as invaders and even the sometimes unscrupulous behaviours of a few citizens once in some of the countries create panic rather than needed fraternity.
Solidarity that begets confidence would have rather reigned among people condemned by time and space to go along stronger and farther as one and not the visible egocentric attitudes where individual countries prefer tackling alone the growth race meant for the most resilient.
Individual countries absolutely need to subdue some of their sovereignties and give real integration a chance.
Reticence from one end dampens the efforts of others and continually keeps the entire sub region on its knees in a competitive world where time waits for no one.