While an Investment Charter (in French) was adopted in 2002 to attract foreign investors and streamline investment procedures, it is still not fully implemented. According to the US Department of State 2013, President Biya has postponed the deadline for implementation of some provisions of the Investment Charter to 2014. The delayed implementation of the Charter has resulted in a complicated and challenging regulatory environment in which relevant portions of the Investment Code 1990 remain in effect until the full implementation of the Investment Charter. Unlike the Investment Code of 1990, the Investment Charter 2002 does not discriminate with regard to equity ownership, it permits full foreign ownership, and procedures for obtaining land titles have been simplified and the authorisation decentralised. The US Department of State 2013 further reports that Cameroon's legal and regulatory systems are inefficient and often arbitrarily interpreted and enforced. This is confirmed in a 2012 report published by the United Nations Development Programme, which notes that almost 9 out of 10 interviewed firms consider the policies and regulations as well as the government's interpretation of these to be inconsistent and unpredictable. Accordingly, Cameroon ranks poorly in the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report 2012-2013, when measuring the negative impact of the administrative burden on doing business in Cameroon.
On the other hand, some positive developments must be noted, according to the World Bank & IFC Doing Business 2013, Cameroon has made major progress in several areas including starting a company and trading across borders. Starting a company in Cameroon requires an entrepreneur to go through 5 procedural steps, 15 days on average at a cost of approximately 35.8% of GNI per capita. Moreover, according to the US Department of State 2013, in February 2010 the government set up a one-stop shop as a pilot project in Yaounde, aiming to simplify the process for registering a business. In the following year, the network of one-stop shops had expanded to the cities of Bafoussam, Douala, Garoua, and Bamenda. Moreover, in March 2010, the government also established three Certified Taxation Management Centres (in French), primarily for SMEs, to provide assistance in management, supervision, and payment of fiscal obligations.
Central public institutions are often ineffective and, according to the Bertelsmann Foundation 2012, peripheral powers of traditional authorities frequently exceed the power of state representatives. There is a risk that these leaders may occasionally act to enforce their own policies, and the government continues to struggle to fully co-opt them to its agenda. Public procurement is reportedly also a problematic area, even though some progress has been made since 2002, where systematic post-fact audits were conducted on valuable contracts. According to the same source, foreign trade is distorted by state regulation, special rules and tariff barriers, although Cameroon's membership in the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (in French, CEMAC) has facilitated the establishment of some common trade rules. CEMAC also sets uniform rules of the game for market participants, but state intervention continues and the institutional setting for free markets and competition is reportedly inadequate.
Cameroon is a member of the Organization for the Harmonization of Business Law in Africa (OHADA), which has the purpose of bringing Cameroonian business laws in line with other African member countries. Business laws are relatively clear, but the challenges lie in their implementation. Cameroonian law provides both foreign and domestic investors with property rights protections that comply with international standards and does not discriminate between foreign and domestic companies. On the negative side, unreliability, non-transparency and inefficiency in the judiciary weaken the rule of law. The US Department of State 2013 reports that in practice, both courts and administrative agencies grant preferential treatment to domestic companies and have been accused of corrupt practices. Local companies routinely exert pressure on the courts, which may be swayed by large bribes or by the status of politically influential persons. A company may choose from several procedures: adjudication by local courts, arbitration by the international courts of justice, or international arbitration centres according to Cameroonian law and the arbitration regimes of which Cameroon is a member. These arbitration regimes include the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) and the New York Convention 1958. Cameroon accepts binding international arbitration between foreign investors and the government. Cameroon's Council of Business Managers and Professional Associations (GICAM) created its own arbitration centre to handle business disputes (see 'Private Anti-Corruption Initiatives' below). Access the Lexadin World Law Guide for a collection of legislation in Cameroon.