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CEMAC - Promoting the Resources of Central Africa

The continent of Africa is perhaps the most diverse landscape on the planet in terms of natural resources and inhabitants. The Western perspective of Africa is likely so colored by media reports of internal unrest, drought, and poverty that one might be surprised to learn that some countries import and export billions of dollars' worth of goods annually. Indeed, among the nations that comprise the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa, there thrive a number of economies working together toward common goals to improve the region.


CEMAC has its roots in the Brazzaville Treaty ratified in 1966, which established the free trade area and eventually formed a common currency, the Central African Franc (French is one of the primary languages in the region). A little over a decade ago, the tenets of the CEMAC agreements took over the original treaty.

The six member nations of the CEMAC trade agreement include:

  • Cameroon - Since gaining independence over fifty years ago, Cameroon has seen a steady increase in its GDP. While fishing is a large industry, the nation's exports are mainly comprised of petroleum and lumber and select crops.

  • Central African Republic - This landlocked nation relies primarily on agricultural industries to maintain its GDP. Main export crops include tobacco, coffee, and cotton, with nearly half of the goods traded to Japan.

  • Congo - The Republic of the Congo is comprised mainly of rain forests that support their timber industry, though petroleum exports play a sizable role in their export output.

  • Gabon - Rich in oil fields, Gabon exports several billion dollars' worth of petroleum product to main trade partners Russia, the United States, and China annually.

  • Equatorial Guinea - This nation is somewhat new to oil mining, with reserves discovered in the last fifteen years. Oil production has helped raise Equatorial Guinea's profile and GDP, though forestry and agricultural industries are also important to the economy.

  • Chad - Another oil-rich nation, the bulk of Chad's exports are traded to the United States, which has a large presence in the Republic via Exxon Mobil.

Within this Central African community, goals include the establishment and growth of a common market to benefit member nations, continued stability of the CFA Franc, and harmonic political and social relations. Other goals set at the establishment of CEMAC, such as the elimination of tariffs within member nations' borders, however, have yet to be realized. Possible reasons for the delay may include unstable political conditions or external issues that downplay the CEMAC nations' merits and promotional endeavors. It is possible with the establishment of ECCAS (the Economic Community of Central African States), which will succeed the CEMAC treaty, these countries will see long-term goals come to fruition.

At present, the region's overall GDP experiences a growth rate around four percent that may increase as demands on prized resources increases. Growth projection for 2012 sets the region at six percent, dismissing rumors of a devalued currency. One can hope this fortune is felt beyond this region's borders.


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