In accordance with the trusteeship agreement between France and the United Nations, all nations had equal tariff treatment in Cameroon when it was a trust territory. Many types of goods essential for economic, social, and educational development were exempt from duty. Export duties were moderate. Despite this situation, the direction of Cameroon's trade was to the franc currency zone and importers were required to secure import licenses for non-franc zone products. Following independence, the import licensing system was continued, but was lest strict for EU countries.
In 1994, Cameroon's new Regional Reform Program included reduced taxes on imports from over 7% to 4%, and reduced the overall rate from a maximum 200% to a maximum 70% on luxury goods, and a minimum of 5% on necessities. Today, however, Cameroon employs the common external tariff (TEC) using four categories: necessities, 5%; raw materials and equipment, 10%; semi-finished goods, 20%; and finished products, 30%. There is also an excise tax, an indirect tax on consumer goods, of 25%, and a value-added tax that is generally 18.7%, but in some cases zero.
The 2000 Financial Law was designed largely to attract foreign capital, providing exemptions from export duties on bananas, cocoa, coffee, cotton, rubber, sugar, palm oil, and medicinal plants. Legislation to establish free trade zones was enacted in 1990. Prohibited imports include certain sanitary products, chemicals, toxic waste, some cosmetics, and some food items.