Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Equatorial Guinea to Maintain Visa Requirements for CEMAC Citizens

Government opts out of Agreement on Free Movement of Persons and Goods in order to preserve local employment opportunities.

The government of Equatorial Guinea recently announced its decision to not apply the Agreement on Free Movement of Persons and Goods in the Area of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (CEMAC) in the country. Equatorial Guinea maintains that applying the agreement in Equatorial Guinea would undermine its efforts to provide employment opportunities for its citizens, one of its top priorities.

Equatorial Guinea has made strong efforts to manage illegal immigration in recent years and has adopted several procedures and restrictions for foreign workers in order to ensure that foreigners do not take employment opportunities from its citizens.

Last year, Teodoro Nguema Obiang MangueSecond Vice President, in charge of National Defense and State Security, announced the restriction on the distribution of visas to foreign workers seeking jobs that could be performed by Equatoguinean citizens, much like immigration-control regimes in effect in the United States, the countries of the European Union, and other countries. 

“We want to encourage and support national employment,” said the Vice President on a state television announcement. “We will enforce labor laws, which state that foreign employees cannot exceed 10 percent of a company’s staff,” he said.

The agreement would have allowed citizens from the member countries--Gabon, Congo, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of Chad and Equatorial Guinea--to be able to move freely among the six CEMAC member states without the need to obtain the corresponding entry visas. This agreement would have come into effect on January 1, 2014.

The country has also tightened its border procedures to prevent people entering the country illegally. Earlier last year, the government tightened border procedures with Cameroon. Two years ago, Equatorial Guinea addressed border issues with Gabon. Both countries met at the UN to discuss their border issues in a peaceful manner.

Equatorial Guinea’s flourishing economy continues to attract foreign migrants from neighboring countries seeking employment opportunities. The government policy will not affect jobs for which there are no qualified Equatoguineans, but the government strongly encourages companies to train local workers for skills that are now lacking in the workforce. 

The decision was approved during the Extraordinary Ministerial Council held on November 8, 2013, held at the People's Palace of Malabo, chaired by the President of the Republic, Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.