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.-chronicle.co.zw