Embed This Data
- GDP (PPP):
- $53.3 billion
- 4.6% growth
- 3.7% 5-year compound annual growth
- $2,423 per capita
- Inflation (CPI):
- FDI Inflow:
Cameroon’s economic freedom score is 51.9, making its economy the 146th freest in the 2015 Index. Its overall score is 0.7 point worse than last year, with declines in labor freedom, business freedom, property rights, and trade freedom outweighing improvements in monetary freedom and freedom from corruption. Cameroon is ranked 35th out of 46 countries in the Sub-Saharan Africa region, and its overall score is lower than the regional average.
Over the past half-decade, economic freedom in Cameroon has stagnated. The country made progress in a four of the 10 economic freedoms—freedom from corruption, fiscal freedom, labor freedom, and monetary freedom—but registered no improvements in opening markets to integrate more fully into the global economy.
Although Cameroon has risen from the ranks of the “repressed” where it was over a decade ago, it has made little headway in capitalizing on reform momentum, and growth from an oil and commodity boom has lessened pressure for needed changes. Institutional reforms to tackle nepotism and cronyism and to promote an independent judiciary remain vital for laying the foundations of economic freedom and spurring the broad-based growth that is needed to deal with high rates of poverty.
President Paul Biya has held office since 1982 and was re-elected in October 2011 for another seven-year term in an election that was marred by irregularities. Cameroon is rife with corruption and often accused of failing to ensure equality under the law. The economy is dependent on commodity exports and subject to burdensome regulation. Economic growth was seriously affected by the global economic slowdown. Cameroonian security forces are at war with Nigerian Islamist terrorist group Boko Haram, which has attacked and infiltrated villages along the 1,800-km Cameroon–Nigerian border. Cameroon currently hosts approximately 35,000 refugees from the Central African Republic.
In power since 1982, President Paul Biya’s unwieldy government includes over 50 ministers and secretaries of state, mostly from his Beti ethnic group. Cronyism and corruption are endemic. Revenues from oil, gas, and mining are not openly reported. Protection of real property rights is weak, and the judicial system is slow, inefficient, and vulnerable to political interference. Intellectual property rights are routinely violated.
The top individual income tax rate is 35 percent, and the top corporate tax rate is 38.5 percent (a 35 percent tax rate and 10 percent surcharge). Other taxes include a value-added tax and inheritance taxes. The overall tax burden amounts to 11.0 percent of gross domestic output. Public expenditures equal 20.2 percent of GDP, and public debt is equal in size to 19 percent of the domestic economy.
Bureaucracy and a lack of transparency make business formation costly and burdensome. Business start-up has been streamlined, but obtaining necessary licenses remains time-consuming. Labor regulations are rigid, and restrictions on work hours are stringent. In 2014, the government reduced subsidies for most energy products to stem the growth of budget deficits that had undermined public infrastructure investment.
Cameroon’s average tariff rate is 12.7 percent. As with other members of the Central African Economic and Monetary Community, importing goods may be costly. Foreign investors may face bureaucratic hurdles. The financial sector remains relatively resilient and continues to expand. Despite increased market competition, however, state-owned financial institutions dominate the sector and influence lending.