Cameroon - Economic sectors

Although primarily an agricultural economy, Cameroon has developed petroleum resources and a variety of industrial and service enterprises. Agriculture employed 70 percent of the working population and provided 42 percent of GDP in 1997. Commercial crops such

as coffee, cocoa, and bananas provide a significant share of Cameroon's export earnings and additional crops are produced for domestic consumption. Lumber has grown into Cameroon's second largest export, but the country's forests will probably be exhausted during the next decade.

Cameroon has developed an array of industrial enterprises that provided 22 percent of its GDP in 1997. Though oil production levels have declined since the 1980s, petroleum still provides a large share of Cameroon's export earnings. Agro-industrial enterprises produce sugar, fruit juices, pasta, powdered milk, coffee, chocolate products, corn oil, and palm oil. A textile company produces fabric from cotton grown in northern provinces, and a cement company produces cement that is sold in Chad and the C.A.R. as well as domestically. Cameroon has recently tried to encourage domestic processing of its forestry resources by banning the export of raw lumber. Additional industries manufacture matches, batteries, beer, and mineral water. Most of these products are marketed in Cameroon and its neighboring countries.

The service sector provided an additional 36 percent of Cameroon's GDP in 1997. Cameroon has profited from its geographic position by providing transportation services to several neighboring countries. The banking sector currently includes 9 commercial banks and a number of smaller financial institutions. The energy and telecommunications sectors have stagnated over the past 2 decades due to the failure of government to invest in infrastructure. Banking, telecommunications, and insurance sectors are still in the process of being liberalized and a number of state services are being privatized.

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