Nine areas in Cameroon are designated industrial free zones, complete with tax breaks and planned infrastructural development to attract investment and growth. These zones are managed by the state-run Industrial Zones Development and Management Authority, MAGZI.
Together they cover an area of 970 hectares and are distributed among six regions of Cameroon. Plans for five other sites are being developed in the Centre and Littoral Regions, all part of a grand plan that will align with the Kribi deep seaport.
Within these trade free zones, investors receive an exemption from licenses and quotas on imports and exports, along with access to the local market with no restrictions on profit margins. Businesses also benefit from the tax exemption for a period of ten years, after which they pay a 15 per cent flat rate and exemption from all other taxes. Tax exemptions include products bought and sold on the local market.
In addition to these businesses operating in the industrial free trade zones enjoy fiscal benefits and the right to open accounts in foreign currencies, no limits to the trade of currencies and the right to transfer profits and capital to foreign banks. Foreign employees are granted automatic work permits with a 20 per cent cap after five years, and the right to freely negotiate contracts.
MAGZI works to facilitate production by ensuring an adequate supply of power and water, but plants can augment their electricity and communication by installing their own generators and telecommunications equipment. With no rents and the right to seek justice in Cameroonian courts, firms looking to establish in these trade zones can easily operate and export as their capacity allows.
To get a lease, companies can contact MAGZI with a statement of intent. After an agreement is put in place they pay a fee that ranges between $400 and $2000. Efforts have been made to facilitate the process of creation and registration of businesses but a lot of work needs to be done to implement these rules on the ground.
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