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Cameroon Economy 1996

    • Overview:
      Because of its offshore oil resources and favorable agricultural conditions, Cameroon has one of the best-endowed, most diversified primary commodity economies in sub-Saharan Africa. Still, it faces many of the serious problems facing other underdeveloped countries, such as political instability, a top-heavy civil service, and a generally unfavorable climate for business enterprise. The development of the oil sector led rapid economic growth between 1970 and 1985. Growth came to an abrupt halt in 1986, precipitated by steep declines in the prices of major exports: coffee, cocoa, and petroleum. Export earnings were cut by almost one-third, and inefficiencies in fiscal management were exposed. In 1990-93, with support from the IMF and World Bank, the government began to introduce reforms designed to spur business investment, increase efficiency in agriculture, and recapitalize the nation's banks. Political instability, following suspect elections in 1992, brought IMF/WB structural adjustment to a halt. Although the 50% devaluation of the currency in January 1994 improved the potential for export growth, mismanagement remains and is the main barrier to economic improvement.

    • National product:
      GDP - purchasing power parity - $15.7 billion (1994 est.)

    • National product real growth rate:
      -2.9% (1994 est.)

    • National product per capita:
      $1,200 (1994 est.)

    • Inflation rate (consumer prices):
      -0.8% (FY91/92)

    • Unemployment rate:
      25% (1990 est.)

    • Budget:

        $1.6 billion

        $2.3 billion, including capital expenditures of $226 million (FY92/93 est.)

    • Exports:
      $1.6 billion (f.o.b., 1993)

        petroleum products, lumber, cocoa beans, aluminum, coffee, cotton

        EC (particularly France) about 40%, African countries, US

    • Imports:
      $1.96 billion (c.i.f., 1993)

        machines and electrical equipment, food, consumer goods, transport equipment

        EC about 60% (France 38%, Germany 9%), African countries, Japan, US 5%

    • External debt:
      $6 billion (1991)

    • Industrial production:
      growth rate -2.1% (FY90/91); accounts for about 20% of GDP

    • Electricity:

        630,000 kW

        2.7 billion kWh

        consumption per capita:
        196 kWh (1993)

    • Industries:
      petroleum production and refining, food processing, light consumer goods, textiles, lumber

    • Agriculture:
      the agriculture and forestry sectors provide employment for the majority of the population, contributing about 25% to GDP and providing a high degree of self-sufficiency in staple foods; commercial and food crops include coffee, cocoa, timber, cotton, rubber, bananas, oilseed, grains, livestock, root starches

    • Economic aid:

        US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-90), $479 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-90), $4.75 billion; OPEC bilateral aid (1979-89), $29 million; Communist countries (1970-89), $125 million

    • Currency:
      1 CFA franc (CFAF) = 100 centimes

    • Exchange rates:
      Communaute Financiere Africaine francs (CFAF) per US$1 - 529.43 (January 1995), 555.20 (1994), 283.16 (1993), 264.69 (1992), 282.11 (1991), 272.26 (1990)

        beginning 12 January 1994, the CFA franc was devalued to CFAF 100 per French franc from CFAF 50 at which it had been fixed since 1948

    • Fiscal year:
      1 July - 30 June

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