Russia is one of Cameroon’s main trading partners. Trade between the two countries focuses primarily on certain foodstuffs that Cameroon imports from Russia, in this case wheat, large quantities of which supply the Cameroonian market. According to recent data from the National Institute of Statistics (INS) on trade between Cameroon, Ukraine and Russia, in 2020, Russia sold 62.792 billion FCFA of wheat to Cameroon, thus representing 45 % of the overall volume of wheat imports into the country in that same year. In return, Cameroon exports other products to Russia, mainly wood and wooden articles. Except that these exports are very marginal and are made up of 96% of wood and wood products. In 2020, Cameroon’s exports to this country are quantified in monetary value at 188 million FCFA.
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It is clear from the analysis of these data that the trade balance between the two countries is largely in deficit of 96.484 billion FCFA. Moreover, this deficit is best illustrated by the decline in exports from Cameroon to Russia between 2010 and 2020. They went from 2.166 billion FCFA to 188 million FCFA during this period. “This trend is mainly attributable to the gradual decline in exports of coffees, teas and spices, the value of which became zero in 2020 and amounted to 1,251 million FCFA in 2010 to this destination”, explains the INS report. It goes without saying that ten years ago, exports of coffee, tea and spices to Russia contributed CFAF 1.251 billion to Cameroon’s trade balance, and that according to the INS, these various commodities are no longer exported to Putin’s country, all the more so as national consumption is struggling to be satisfied. Only wood makes resistance.
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Moreover, Russian trade is doing well in Cameroon. During the 2010-2020 decade, imports from Russia increased, rising from 11.531 billion FCFA in 2010 to 96.672 billion FCFA in 2020. Russian imports are primarily supported by wheat, but also fertilizers. Russia holds 43% of the fertilizer market share in Cameroon in 2020, and is also the leader. It is followed by the island of Saint Barthélémy (16%), Finland (11%) and China (5%).
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The analysis of the National Institute of Statistics comes in a context marked by the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine, and aims to review trade between Cameroon and the two countries. The INS fears that this geopolitical crisis will disrupt the supply chains of products supplied to Cameroon by the latter. This situation could then lead to an increase in import costs and consequently result in an increase in their wholesale and retail prices. “In other words, the inflationary pressures already recorded on wheat flour and its by-products (bread, pasta, etc.) could increase. The same applies to other products imported from these countries such as fertilizer and certain building materials”. The institute recommends the implementation of the import substitution policy to promote the consumption of substitutable local products, by making the population aware of changing their consumption habits. These include replacing, at least partially, wheat flour with locally produced flour, in particular corn, potato, cassava, plantain, etc.