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Cross-Border Trade: An Analysis of Trade and Market Integration along the Nigeria-Cameroon Borderlands
The focus of this paper is on unrecorded trade as opposed to the recorded in the Cross River, (Nigeria) segment of the borders with western Cameroon. Empirical data derived from the borderland indicate that the development of border markets, twin towns and their transformation is traceable to the trading activities across borders. These border areas have become the convergence of internationality and locality. Along and astride the borders, the Nigerian currency (Naira) and Cameroonian franc are openly exchanged unofficially to purchase manufactured goods, pharmaceuticals and food stuff in the presence of security agents and government officials who have become participants in the trade across-borders. The twin towns and border markets have become sanctuaries for social miscreants, criminal elements, human traffickers, including those involved in the ‘sins businesses. An assessment of cross-border trade and market integration reveal that inhabitants of the border areas have become economically, socially and politically integrated in spite of the conflict over the Bakassi Peninsula. Based on empirical analysis, bilateral agreements between Nigeria and Cameroon have made negligible positive impact on the process of trade and market integration. While the process of trade liberalization should be intensified as a means of fast-tracking the tempo of formal trade expansion between the two, recognition should be given to the unrecorded trade and market integration processes. It is concluded that the two governments should lay emphasis on the provision of basic infrastructures and security which cross-border trade, investment and market integration can be based. The micro-integration formalities taking place along and astride the Nigeria-Cameroon borderlands are a wide spread phenomenon, characteristic of African borders. These micro-integration formalities are based on the realities of African history and could be galvanized and utilized for wider economic and market integration in the continent.