By Wallace Mawire
The European Union and COMESA have signed a 48.3 Million Euros trade facilitation programme. The COMESA Trade Facilitation Programme Programme (CTFP) aims at deepening regional integration, improving inclusive regional economic growth and enhancing competitiveness of the COMESA region
Secretary General of COMESA, Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe and the Head of the European Union Delegation to Zambia, Ambassador Alessandro Mariani signed the Agreement in Lusaka Tuesday 20 November 2018. This paves the way to commence the implementation of the planned activities in the whole COMESA/tripartite region as well as at the targeted corridors and border areas in the COMESA region.
The Programme is financed under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), The project aims at increasing 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 (FTA), the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreements (TFA), improvement of the Coordinated Management and the liberalization of the trade in services and movements of persons.
In her address, the Secretary general cited the lack of coordinated 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,” the Secretary General said:
“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.
The final beneficiaries of the programme are the Member States and citizens of COMESA and the United Republic of Tanzania, either directly or indirectly through their central and regional and local administrations or public or semi-public institutions.
In his statement, Ambassador Mariani said: ” This EU-COMESA Trade Facilitation Programme is of utmost importance and will greatly contribute to the implementation of the New Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs recently launched by the EU,”
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; Strengthen Coordinated Border Management and Trade and Transport facilitation; Improved levels of implementation of harmonised, science based Sanitary and Phyto-Sanitary (SPS) Measures and Technical Standards; and enhanced Trade in Services, free movement of persons, trade negotiations, intellectual property and trade promotions are supported.
Zambian Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce. Trade and Industry Mrs Kayula Siame, who was the chief guest at the event said with this Trade Facilitation programme, COMESA will have a more prioritized trade facilitation programme which will ensure simple and flexible rules of origin as well as dynamic systems for elimination of non-tariff barriers and the instruments for trade facilitation will be effectively and efficiently used.
COMESA Secretariat will be responsible for managing the overall coordination of this programme, with sub activities sub-delegated to Member States and other implementing agencies to ensure the greatest impacts and the best value for money.