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Comesa in plans to increase trade threefold

East African, Kenya

Comesa in plans to increase trade threefold

By Francis Ayieko

16 November 2009

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) has announced a number of measures to increase intra-regional trade threefold.

According to the bloc, it will step up efforts to reduce non-tariff barriers, address communication and transport problems, improve Customs procedures and charges, and improve access to market information.

Assistant Secretary General Stephen Karangizi said this will help Comesa, which launched its Customs Union in June, realise its desire to raise intra-regional trade levels from seven per cent currently to 25 per cent.

Speaking in Nairobi during the 24th meeting of Comesa’s Trade and Customs Committee, Mr Karangizi said his organisation has also started implementing a programme (referred to as PACT 2) aimed at improving production, industry linkages, value addition and diversification of the Comesa region’s production base.

The programme is developing sector strategies for key priority sectors that have been identified by the Comesa Authority.

The sectors are leather and leather products; cotton, textiles and garments; agro-food processing; metallic and non-metallic products; and tourism.

In addition, he said, Comesa is undertaking a “comprehensive” industrial audit to identify supply-demand gaps in addition to supporting member states in developing their industrial policies, strategies and master plans in line with the regional industrial strategy.

In order to facilitate cross-border trade, Comesa Secretariat is implementing a Simplified Trade Regime in 10 member states on a pilot basis.

The Simplified Trade Regime is being tried out in Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and will be extended to cover all Comesa countries after the completion of the pilot phase.

With three components, Simplified Trade Regime is meant to be of great benefit to regional traders.