France quadrupled imports from Cameroon over five years, boosted by hydrocarbons

Business in Cameroon | French imports from Cameroon have quadrupled over the past five years, driven largely by hydrocarbons. Data from French customs shows imports surged from €225.6 million (about 148 billion FCFA) in 2019 to €915.2 million (about 599.4 billion FCFA) in 2023. In 2022, imports even hit a record high of just over €1 billion, equivalent to more than 655 billion FCFA.

This significant increase began in 2022, coinciding with the start of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, which led to an embargo on Russian hydrocarbons. Europe, including France, previously reliant on Russian supplies, sought new sources of hydrocarbons.

Both French customs data and statistics from Cameroon’s National Institute of Statistics (INS) suggest Cameroon has become one of France’s new hydrocarbon suppliers. Hydrocarbon exports from Cameroon to France were only 65.6 million FCFA in 2020 but jumped to 26.8 billion FCFA in 2021 and soared to 495.9 billion FCFA in 2022. This included crude oil (299.7 billion FCFA) and liquefied natural gas (196.2 billion FCFA). Hydrocarbons alone accounted for 96.5% of the increase in export value (+487.4 billion FCFA) in 2022. This upward trend is also seen across the CEMAC region.

Agricultural Products and Wood Exports

A report from the French Treasury indicates that hydrocarbon purchases accounted for over three-quarters of French imports from the CEMAC region in H1 2023. The increase in hydrocarbon imports (crude oil, LNG, and gas condensates) is mainly due to higher LNG imports from Cameroon, totaling €463.8 million (304.2 billion FCFA).

Throughout 2023, according to INS’s external trade report, LNG exports made up 47.6% of Cameroon’s goods and other product exports to France. French customs data further reveals that imports of “natural hydrocarbons and other extractive industry products” from Cameroon reached €675 million (around 442 billion FCFA) in 2023, representing 73.8% of France’s total imports from Cameroon.

In addition to extractive sector products, France imported agro-food products worth €87.3 million (about 57.2 billion FCFA) from Cameroon in 2023. Imports of agricultural, livestock, and fishery products reached €79.7 million (52.2 billion FCFA), while wood and paper product imports amounted to €35.8 million (23.5 billion FCFA). However, these non-hydrocarbon imports are relatively minor, making up only 9.5%, 8.7%, and 3.9% of France’s total imports from Cameroon in 2023, respectively.

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