Wednesday, February 28, 2024

COMESA urged to accelerate African Continental Free Trade Area

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Vice President Inonge Wina has called on COMESA member states to honour their obligations and commitments in order to accelerate regional integration in tandem with the commencement of the African Continental Free Trade which comes into force in 2021.

Mrs. Wina noted that regional integration is about inter-connecting people, businesses and governments across the common market.

The Vice President said this morning during the 41st virtual meeting of the COMESA Council of ministers.

The Vice President indicated that from the time COMESA was established in 1994, it has made tremendous progress by promoting and facilitating regional trade and investments adding that advancements in gender and youth affairs, governance, peace and security, climate change, environment and natural resources have also been recorded.

“With the new medium-term Strategic Plan, 2021-2025, COMESA is now well positioned to consolidate the gains made so far while embracing new opportunities. As a result, tangible benefits such as an improved cross-border and unified mechanism for transport movements have enhanced regional integration through trade as envisaged in the COMESA Treaty.

Mrs. Wina highlighted Eight (8) megatrends as the basis for stimulating insightful review in relation to various programmes under COMESA implementation.

Among the proposed recommendations the Vice President mentioned, was the concern on high population growth in Africa which is projected to reach 2.4 Billion by 2050.

In the area of rapid urbanisation, Mrs. Wina called for measures such as building smart cities that effectively respond to wholesome needs of the population such as climate smart and resilient housing, integrated transport systems as well as renewable and reliable energy and water supplies which in turn bring jobs and better living among the people.

She also pointed out climate change effects that may further disrupt social and economic lives and livelihoods of people.

“On the bright side, improvements in telecommunications have come to the rescue in COVID era through online meetings, widespread use of electronic commerce and business transactions that have increased tremendously thereby sustaining businesses and economies,” she highlighted.

Speaking at the same event, COMESA Secretary-General, Chileshe Kapwepwe noted that although the COVID-19 pandemic is a health crisis, it has had devastating effects on macroeconomic performances and related activities in our region.

Ms. Kapwepwe explained that apart from depressed economic growth, lockdowns and drastic restrictions on movements, the pandemic has disrupted production and trade in both goods and services across all sectors.

“It is therefore our responsibility, to come up with innovative initiatives and upgrade existing programmes to address the negative effects on trade facilitation and other programme areas which contribute to the economic wellbeing of the region’s citizens,” she warned.

Ms. Kapwepwe disclosed that COMESA is concluding the implementation of its current medium-term strategy for the period 2016 – 2020 this December.

“Through a highly consultative process, the Draft 2021-2025 COMESA Medium Term Strategic Plan has been carefully designed to map the way forward for COMESA’s integration agenda having taken into consideration key achievements, lessons learnt and challenges of the concluding strategy,” the Secretary-General explained.

Highlighting key achievements on this concluding strategy, Ms. Kapwepwe noted that in the area of market integration, a number of trade facilitation instruments are being implemented, although intra-COMESA trade has remained depressed.

With regard to services, she noted that Member States have made important steps in making liberalization commitments in the four prioritized sectors, namely Tourism & Travel, Transport Services, Communication and Services and Financial Services sector.

“This is important considering the complementary role services play in fostering trade and overall economic growth and development in our economies,” Ms. Kapwepwe explained.

3 COMMENTS

  1. What are we waiting for! Let us do it ! Southern and eastern Africa are the future of world trade. If we protect our intereste now through such cooperation then no one will be able to touch us. The diaspora upnd toilet cleaners will start crawling back and we can stop them unless they have zambian citizenship, which many of them threw away and despised.

  2. Zimbabwe is in chaos, war is raging in Ethiopia and here is Zambia saying COMESA should facilitate continental free trade in Africa. Get the politics right before u can get trade right. The EU insists on minimum standards of governance from member states. In Africa there’s no such a thing.

  3. Nemwine you mean the EU where millions have died due to covid ? Why would we wish to follow in the steps of failures? If you worship and kiss the feet of your masters there please note that we are not as f00lish

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