Comesa–EU sign 48m trade fa­cil­i­ta­tion pro­gramme

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page - Busi­ness Ed­i­tor

THE Com­mon Mar­ket for Eastern and South­ern Africa (Comesa) and the Euro­pean Union have signed a €48,3 mil­lion trade fa­cil­i­ta­tion pro­gramme aimed at deep­en­ing re­gional in­te­gra­tion, im­prov­ing in­clu­sive re­gional eco­nomic growth and en­hanc­ing com­pet­i­tive­ness of Africa’s largest trad­ing bloc.

Comesa sec­re­tary gen­eral, Ms Chileshe Kap­wepwe and the head of the EU del­e­ga­tion to Zam­bia, Am­bas­sador Alessan­dro Mar­i­ani, signed the Agree­ment in Lusaka Tues­day, 20 Novem­ber 2018. The deal paves way for im­ple­men­ta­tion of the planned ac­tiv­i­ties un­der the Comesa tri­par­tite re­gion as well as at the tar­geted cor­ri­dors and bor­der ar­eas in the trade re­gion.

Comesa head of cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions, Mr Mwangi Gakunga, said in a state­ment that the pro­gramme was fi­nanced un­der the 11th Euro­pean De­vel­op­ment Fund (EDF), and seeks to in­crease in­tra-re­gional trade flows of goods, per­sons and ser­vices by re­duc­ing the costs/ de­lays of im­ports/ex­ports at spe­cific bor­der posts.

“This will be achieved through the re­duc­tion of non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers (NTBs) across the bor­ders, the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Comesa dig­i­tal free trade agree­ments, the WTO trade fa­cil­i­ta­tion agree­ments, im­prove­ment of the co­or­di­nated man­age­ment and the lib­er­al­i­sa­tion of the trade in ser­vices and move­ments of per­sons,” said Mr Gakunga.

Ear­lier in her ad­dress, Ms Kap­wepwe be­moaned lack of co-or­di­nated bor­der con­trols, seam­less ex­change of in­for­ma­tion as well as trade and trans­port cor­ri­dor mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem as some ma­jor causes of high freight costs in the Comesa re­gion com­pared with other re­gions.

“This pro­gramme will en­sure trade pol­icy lib­er­al­i­sa­tion and in­fra­struc­ture im­prove­ments, ac­com­pa­nied by im­proved bor­der man­age­ment and lo­gis­tics are sup­ported to re­duce freight costs, in­crease com­pet­i­tive­ness and fully ex­ploit the eco­nomic po­ten­tial of the Comesa re­gion,” she said.

Comesa mem­ber states are key ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the pro­gramme. In his state­ment, Amb Mar­i­ani said the EU-Comesa pact was crit­i­cal and would con­trib­ute to the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the new Africa-Europe al­liance for sus­tain­able in­vest­ment.

Mr Gakunga said the pro­gramme is com­prised of five key re­sult ar­eas; im­proved mon­i­tor­ing and re­moval of non-tar­iff bar­ri­ers, en­hanced im­ple­men­ta­tion of the WTO trade fa­cil­i­ta­tion agree­ment, strength­en­ing co­or­di­nated bor­der man­age­ment and trade and trans­port fa­cil­i­ta­tion, im­prov­ing lev­els of im­ple­men­ta­tion and en­hanc­ing trade in ser­vices, free move­ment of per­sons and trade ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The Comesa sec­re­tar­iat will be re­spon­si­ble for man­ag­ing the over­all co­or­di­na­tion of the pro­gramme, with some ac­tiv­i­ties sub-del­e­gated to mem­ber states and other im­ple­ment­ing agen­cies to en­sure the great­est im­pacts.

Dr John Man­gudya

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