Pres­i­dent in Mada­gas­car for 19th Comesa sum­mit

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - National News - Mor­ris Mk­wate in An­tana­narivo, Mada­gas­car

PRES­I­DENT Mu­gabe ar­rived here last night to at­tend the 19th Com­mon Mar­ket for East­ern and South­ern Africa (Comesa) Heads of State and Gov­ern­ment Sum­mit that be­gins to­day.

He was wel­comed at Ivato In­ter­na­tional Air­port in An­tana­narivo by Mada­gas­car Pres­i­dent Mr Hery Ra­jaonari­mampianina and Zim­bab­wean Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials who were part of the ad­vance team.

The Pres­i­dent trav­elled with se­nior Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and then linked up with Min­is­ters Sim­barashe Mum­bengegwi (For­eign Af­fairs) and Mike Bimha (In­dus­try and Com­merce) who were at­tend­ing prepara­tory meet­ings here since last week.

He was seen off at Harare In­ter­na­tional Air­port by VicePres­i­dents Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko, Cabi­net Min­is­ters, se­nior civil ser­vants and ser­vice chiefs. Mean­while, VP Mnan­gagwa is Act­ing Pres­i­dent. Min­is­ter Bimha said: “The sum­mit will mainly look at in­clu­sive and sus­tain­able in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion. The in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion agenda is now the ma­jor fo­cus in Africa; even re­gional in­te­gra­tion is re­volv­ing around the same sub­ject. It is the way to go, and Africa is say­ing, ‘Let’s utilise our peo­ple and re­sources to­wards val­uead­di­tion and ben­e­fi­ci­a­tion’. If we in­dus­tri­alise and ex­port, our economies will grow.

“This tra­jec­tory runs through the en­tire re­gional thrust and across Africa. And when we say in­clu­sive, we are in­volv­ing ev­ery­one: gov­ern­ments, women, busi­nesses; etcetera.”

Themed “In­clu­sive and Sus­tain­able In­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion”, the sum­mit will dis­cuss re­gional peace and se­cu­rity, cus­toms and trade, hom­ing in on the Comesa, Tri­par­tite and Con­ti­nen­tal free trade ar­eas.

It will also con­sider the Medium Term Strate­gic Plan (2016-2020) adopted by the Comesa Coun­cil of Min­is­ters on Oc­to­ber 15, 2016 with a view to spurring struc­tural eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion via trade, in­vest­ment and in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment.

The Comesa FTA pro­vides duty and quota - free mar­ket ac­cess to mem­ber states on prod­ucts orig­i­nat­ing in the re­gion.

Cri­te­ria known as Rules of Ori­gin en­sure pro­cessed goods or those wholly man­u­fac­tured within the 19-mem­ber group­ing get pref­er­en­tial tar­iffs across bor­ders.

Zim­babwe and 14 other mem­ber states are par­tic­i­pat­ing in the FTA whose ben­e­fits and im­ped­i­ments will soon be as­sessed and pub­lished an­nu­ally.

That as­sess­ment will cover trade in goods and ser­vices, lo­gis­tics and trade fa­cil­i­ta­tion, in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion and in­fra­struc­ture de­vel­op­ment.

A re­cent study by the Comesa sec­re­tariat es­tab­lished that the re­gion trades more ex­ter­nally than in­ter­nally.

It de­ter­mined that the trade po­ten­tial value that could en­hance in­tra-Comesa prod­uct trade was US$82.3 bil­lion, and that trade within the re­gion would in­crease by $41.15 bil­lion if 50 per­cent of ex­ter­nal busi­ness were chan­nelled in­wards.

The Tri­par­tite FTA op­er­ates along sim­i­lar lines, in­te­grat­ing three of Africa’s re­gional blocs – Comesa, Sadc and the East African Com­mu­nity – and a con­ti­nen­tal FTA has been pro­posed to ac­com­mo­date all 54 African Union states.

At the in­ter-gov­ern­ment com­mit­tee meet­ing here last week, Mada­gas­car’s Trade and Con­sump­tion Min­is­ter Ar­mand Tazafy said in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion was key to in­te­grated trade. “With­out sus­tain­able in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion, our re­gion can­not ad­e­quately re­spond to the ever-in­creas­ing needs of high value prod­ucts with the ris­ing mid­dle class in our con­ti­nent, which has been forced to source else­where.”

Pres­i­dent Mu­gabe

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