BY PAUL TENTENA
KAMPALA, UGANDA- The Acting Minister of Commerce and Industry of Zambia Matthew Nkhuwa has noted that since the establishment of the COMESA Free Trade Area in 2000, Intra-COMESA total exports have increased from US $ 1.5 billion in the year 2000 to reach US$ 9.6 billion in 2015.
“Several COMESA countries recorded notable positive growths in their 2016 global exports, these include Djibouti (204%), Comoros (109%), Uganda and Madagascar (10%), Sudan (8%) and Burundi (6%). Regarding imports, COMESA countries that recorded growths in their 2016 global imports were Seychelles (62%), Djibouti (57%), Sudan (2%) and Ethiopia (1%),” said Nkhuwa in Lusaka during the official opening of the first pre- Summit COMESA policy Organs’ meeting.
He said however, that a slight decline of US1.6 billion was recorded in 2016 due to among other factors, drought, which affected most of the countries especially in Eastern Africa.
Nkhuwa said COMESA has been focusing on continuing to build consensus of the Member States concerning outstanding Customs Union and trade facilitation instruments as well as facilitating the process of harmonisation and domestication of the Custom Union instruments.
This, he said, has resulted in increased alignment by Member States of the Customs Union instruments.
In his address, COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya said the benefits of integration programmes and regional investment are manifested by the growth of their economies.
“With the launch of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) in March 2018, a new stimulus for integrating the continent has been unleashed,” said Ngwenya.
“We have always viewed the COMESA Free Trade Area (FTA) and the launch of the Tripartite FTA in 2015 as fast- tracks to the continental FTA.”
This year’s Summit is running under the theme: COMESA: Towards Digital Economic Integration. The focus is on establishing seamless processes across the COMESA region to enable ease of doing business/trade among member States and thus contribute to enhancing regional integration.