Unity key to investment in COMESA, says Mwanakatwe
By ANDREW MUKOMA THE Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry says COMESA member-states must work together to strengthen regional integration and attract investment in the COMESA region,
Commerce Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe said regional integration will only be successful when businesses, consumers and governments become fully aware of the benefits and opportunities of regional integration and being part of the global production chain.
She said that despite regional integration efforts, she was saddened by reports of low levels of intra-Africa trade.
Ms Mwanakatwe was speaking in a speech read by Southern Province Permanent Secretary Sibanze Simuchoba during the official opening of the 2nd Diplomatic Conference on Competition and Trade among COMESA member States in Livingstone.
Ms. Mwanakatwe said statistics show that intra- Africa export make up approximately 18 per cent of Africa's total.
"By contrast, intra-EU export make up around two thirds of EU total export, whereas in the East Asian and North America regions their respective perfor- mance are around 50 percent," she said.
"We continue trading less amongst ourselves because our challenge remains that we are still producing and exporting commodities which are hardly value added," she said.
Ms. Mwanakatwe noted that the benefits of trade integration cannot be overemphasised, adding that opportunities are there for member-states to open up new markets.
Ms. Mwanakatwe called on members of COMESA Secretariat to continue to be relevant in facilitating regional integration as they play a critical role in forging regional ties.
She also said to foster economic integration, there is need to harmonise national laws with regional laws, namely the COMESA treaty.
COMESA board chairperson for Competition Commission Thabisile Langa expressed delight that member-states were now recognising that competition policy has a key role to play in creating a regional integrated market and conditions of governance for both national, regional and globalisation market places.
Ms. Langa said competition policy remains one of the best instruments available to ensure that regional integration is achieved and benefits the people in the common market.
She said that to achieve a regional integrated market, does not only require compliance with the treaty obligation but political will from membesr.