President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, has bemoaned the low level of intra trade among COMESA member states in the region.
President Kenyatta observes that COMESA has not fully exploited the existing trade potential in the region.
ZANIS reports that the Kenyan Head of State disclosed that the current total percentage of trade among COMESA member states stands at 77.
“Truth be told, COMESA has exploited less the trade potential in our region. COMESA total share of intra trade of goods currently stand at 77 per cent.
The situation is unfortunate, it requires that we find solutions to remedy it,” he stated.
President Kenyatta said solutions need to be found in order to address the trade challenges hindering increased intra Africa trade.
He was speaking during the official opening of the Source 21 Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) International Trade Fair and High Level Business Summit in Nairobi, Kenya.
Meanwhile, President Kenyatta says lack of value addition on products in the COMESA region has deprived young people of job opportunities.
He expressed concern that most products in the regional bloc are traded in raw form without value addition.
President Kenyatta has encouraged African countries to take advantage of the continent’s young population by creating job opportunities for them through value addition.
And Zambia’s President Edgar Lungu says Small and Medium enterprises (SMEs) should be given space to thrive and to trade within the continent.
President Lungu emphasized that policies should therefore, be implemented in order to support and to favour the growing of SMEs.
The President noted that COMESA has a huge responsibility of ensuring that SMEs are supported so that they participate effectively in intra Africa trade.
“SMEs should be given space so that they participate in regional integration trade. We have a huge stake of ensuring that SMEs fit in the bigger picture of trade,” he said.
He observed that SMEs will only be competitive if they produce quality goods, hence the call to support them.
The President, however, expressed concern that if nothing is done to address the situation, the rest of the world will feast on Africa’s resources while SMEs lose out.
Mr Lungu has also observed that promotion of local SMEs in the region is cardinal if Africa is to prosper and to compete with other continents.
President Lungu said political will has been demonstrated as evidenced by the number of agreements signed by individual governments.
Meanwhile, the Zambian Head of State has advised African countries not to be swayed by foreign investors who complain of policy inconsistency.
He explained that if a particular country feels that the local people are not benefiting from the earlier signed agreements, the country should not shy away from revisiting the agreement.
The President noted that revisiting or changing of policy shows that government cares about the plight of its people.
At the same forum, Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni, said fragmented markets have contributed to COMESA not integrating fully.
President Museveni emphasised that intra market fragment is a serious bottleneck that must be addressed.
The Ugandan President noted that other continents are taking advantage of the situation by advancing their trade agenda.
And COMESA Secretary General, Chileshe Kapwepwe, thanked Heads of State for attending the high level business summit.
The five days long business summit, which runs from 17 to 21 July, 2019 has attracted high level participation from COMESA member states.