The Minister of Mines, Industry and Technological Development, Jean Ernest Ngale Bibehe, announced the new requirement for imports to Cameroon to conform to certain standards from port of loading regarding pre-shipment certification. During the session held in Yaounde, Cameroon’s capital, stakeholders were informed that as from August 31 of 2016, importers will be expected to include to the list of documents required at customs, a pre shipment inspection certificate. Some have welcomed this decision to be a step in the right direction in protecting the consumers in Cameroon. Others have heralded the decision as a bold step to protect the local producers and in someway, help in decongesting the Douala port.
However, the practical implication of this are many:
Even without this requirement, Douala port is known for its longwinded custom clearance procedures. International traders should expect extended times used for clearing their goods at the port which could in turn lead to damaged goods. We expect to see a rise in cargo claims. What is not clear is, in the case of bulk cargo, will the test be conducted whilst the cargo is still on board? If not, we have not seen any recommendation on procedures in place to facilitate the destruction of cargo that do not meet the required standard. This could potentially see a rise in demurrage claims too.
Many perishable cargo have s limited shelf life. Extended storage periods would almost certainly lead to significant reduction of cargo shelf life. Depending on the details of the entry requirements, a breach in an insignificant detail could lead to the arrest of the entire batch of cargo. Cameroon has a serious energy deficit. There is electricity failure almost everyday and this includes in the ports. It is not clear to us how cargo that is quarantined at the port can be effectively preserved during power outages when the temperatures could sore to about 40 degrees.
It will be interesting to see how this new requirement of pre-shipment certification is implemented. SGS and Intertek have been appointed to inspect the certificates upon arrival at the ports. We have reached out to them to understand the details of the pre shipment requirements.
If you have suffered delays in Cameroon, immediately notify us so we can put the carrier on notice and also consider a possible action against the port authority.