The investment code was revised in 1990 to encourage productive investment in Cameroon. Thus it offers alluring conditions to investors in the form of incentives and guarantees. It is a liberal law in which the legislator calls on all natural persons or corporate bodies of Cameroonian or foreign nationality, irrespective of their place of residence, to undertake economic activity in Cameroon. The code goes further to operationalize this charter of rights in the following feel-at-home terms.
- Foreign nationals have the right to enjoy the same liberties and protection of the law as those granted Cameroonian natural persons or corporate bodies.
- Foreign nationals have the right to enjoy the manifold rights governing property ownership, concessions and administrative authorisations.
- Foreign nationals have a right to compensation in the case of expropriation after evaluation by an independent third party.
- Foreign nationals have the right to enter into and execute any contract that they deem to be in their interest.
- Foreign nationals have the freedom to enter, reside in, travel around and leave the national territory freely. This includes corporate bodies duly established in Cameroon, their partners and managers and foreign staff with approved contracts of employment as well as members of their legitimate families.
- Foreign nationals have the right to hire and fire labour in compliance with the labour and social insurance legislations in force.
- Finally and most importantly, foreign investors resident in Cameroon are guaranteed the right to freely transfer proceeds of all kind from invested capital and in case they cease to operate, the balance of the liquidation. They are also free to transfer funds representing normal and current payments for supplies and service effectively performed, particularly in the form of royalties and sundry remuneration.
Needless to say that all these attractive conditions can only fall into shape when the foreign national has a residence permit, if actually resident in Cameroon.
This code also encourages export trade by granting considerable exemptions on export charges.
The code has widened the scope of production in the sense that there is no longer any particular protection amongst national business sectors. The wood sector has been liberalised such that it is now easier to obtain the licence to exploit timber. The petroleum sector has also been liberalised and oil research, meaning exploration, production and distribution, is open to all who can venture. Moreover, a 1998 law instituted special fiscal measures to promote hydrocarbons exploration activities in Cameroon. This law is a charter of rights and benefits to be enjoyed by holders of hydrocarbons exploration permits and concessions.
There is the fiscalo-customs reforms which put every business, whether industrial or commercial, on the same plane.
Still in 1990 the government of Cameroon enacted the Free Trade Zone legislation to further encourage industry. This law is to the effect that industrial concerns exporting at least 80% of their products qualify for an extensive package of fiscal, regulatory and customs incentives. There are also administrative incentives such as the one-stop shop facility. Industrial estate developers and operators in Cameroon are equally eligible for this same package of benefits.
The free trade zone programs is a concept applicable to locations throughout the country, although with headquarters in Douala. It provides the opportunity for the setting up of “industrial park” free trade zones and “single factory” or “special” free trade zones. The opportunity for the latter is granted to agro-industrial firms to enable them locate near their source of raw material.
The scope of activities in the free trade zone ranges from pure manufacturing, through assembly operations to financial and information processing services.
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