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Call to remove trade barriers as COMESA embarks on the 2016-2020 MTSP

by Staff Reporter
05 Sep 2015 at 09:33hrs | Views
Full regional integration and the quest to have a seamless flow of goods and services will be achieved in the COMESA region once the Members states commit themselves to eliminate outstanding tariff and non- tariff barriers.

Comesa website reported that Assistant Secretary General Dr Kipyego Cheluget says the regional organization has made remarkable progress in regional integration over the years by developing innovative trade facilitation technologies. However, daunting challenges exist especially in implementing the protocol on free movement of people.

He was speaking at COMESA Secretariat in Lusaka today when he officially opened the regional workshop to validate the draft COMESA 2016-2020 Medium Term Strategic Plan (MTSP)

The 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, to be adopted this year by the Council of Ministers, is expected to contribute to structural transformation of the economies of the COMESA Member States so as to foster the overall economic development of the Member States through trade and investment.

"The free movement of business people and capital is the biggest impediment to improving the levels of intra-regional trade," Dr Cheluget said. "Subsequently, the intra-regional trade is low compared to external trade with other countries globally."

He observed transaction costs high as business people and ordinary people cannot move around without visas. Goods and capital investments he said also faced restrictions.

Dr Cheluget urged COMESA Member States to promote economic growth through industrialization and investment in the energy production. He also called upon the Member States to come up with innovative ways of funding regional integration programmes to reduce dependence on cooperating partners.

"As we think of our strategy of moving forward, we must look at what we have achieved and challenge ourselves if we are doing enough for regional integration or we need to hasten the pace." Dr Cheluget observed. He noted that security concerns by members States especially on immigration inhibited the free movement of people.

"Owing to these barriers, intra-regional trade among Member States is low compared to trade with other countries outside the region."

The three-day regional workshop will discuss the proposed Medium term Strategic Plan which will take effect from 2016. The new strategy is aimed at creating an enabling trade and investment environment, with a focus on market integration, infrastructure development, industrialization (including small and medium enterprise development and regional industrial clusters), institutional and regulatory policies, capacity development as well as resource mobilization.

Source - Comesa