Cameroon shares the BRICS position that "the world would be a fairer place if the aspirations of all peoples were heard and respected," Prime Minister Joseph Dion Nguté said at the closing ceremony of the 15th session, which ended on August 24, 2023, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Like the BRICS, Cameroon is calling for reforms that would ensure the UN and Bretton Woods institutions (World Bank and IMF) are fair and multilateral institutions.
Nevertheless, in the geopolitical tug-of-war between the G7 and the BRICS, Cameroon is not picking a side. Yaoundé remains faithful to its non-alignment policy, according to Cameroonian diplomat Christian Pout, in an interview published in the August 24 issue of the state-owned daily Cameroon Tribune. Following that policy, " the country has done its best to forge links with other countries and diversify its partners, provided they are respectful of its ideals and sovereignty," explains Christian Pout. This is reflected in the equal weighting of cooperation between Cameroon and the G7 countries, and that between Cameroon and the BRICS countries.
The note on relations between Cameroon, the G7, and the BRICS, published last month by the National Institute of Statistics (INS), shows that the volume of trade between Cameroon and the two competing blocs is relatively the same. We learn that the BRICS countries account for 29% of exports and 29% of imports to and from Cameroon. "The G7, on the other hand, buys 22% of exports and supplies 21% of imports," reads the note. What's more, the products most traded between Cameroon and the two groups are virtually identical. On the export side, these are crude oil, sawn timber, petroleum gas, cocoa paste, etc. On the import side, the note cites wheat, refined oil, and rice.
The equal weighting can also be felt in financial cooperation. The note concludes that 60% of Cameroon's multilateral debt is owed to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which are both mainly controlled by the G7. On the other hand, 68% of the country's bilateral debt is owed to BRICS countries. Most of that bilateral debt is owed to China. "China alone currently accounts for 65.5% of total bilateral debt outstanding, far ahead of France (25.3%)," says the INS in its note.
On the military front, Cameroon can also count on partnerships with both BRICS and G7 countries. In March 2018, when President Paul Biya was due for a two-day visit to China, Yaoundé indicated that it had an important military cooperation with China. The cooperation notably covers training and technical assistance. Yaoundé also praises the importance of its military cooperation with Russia. Moscow provides a wide range of assistance to Cameroon's defense and security forces, including training, internships, and equipment. On April 12, 2022, the two countries even initialed an agreement to expand their military cooperation.
On the other hand, Cameroon and France are linked by an old military cooperation agreement signed on February 21, 1974. This is also presented as important by Yaoundé. In February 2008, the French presidency decided to review its defense agreements with eight African countries (Togo, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Comoros, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, Gabon and Senegal). Cameroon also has military cooperation agreements with the United States of America. One of the agreements covers training and security in the Gulf of Guinea and Cameroonian coasts. Another agreement was signed in October 2015 to fight the Islamist sect Boko Haram.
According to the INS, Cameroon should continue and densify its cooperation with the two blocs, which are strategic partners.
Michel Ange Nga