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Comesa Trade Improves

Comesa Trade Improves

The Times of Zambia (Ndola)

23 September 2004

Siyumbwa Muyunda

TRADE among Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) member states increased by 15 per cent from US$4.5 billion in 2002 to $5.3 billion in 2003 while trade amongst Free Trade Area (FTA) member states rose from $2.1 billion in 2002 to $2.6 billion in 2003.

COMESA secretary general Erastus Mwencha said this during the 18th meeting of the council of bureaux of COMESA third party motor insurance (yellow card) scheme in Siavonga yesterday.

The conference is being hosted by the Zambia State Insurance Company (ZSIC).

He said in a speech read on his behalf by director of trade, customs and monetary Dr Charles Chanthunya that the total overall trade of COMESA member states reached $87.7 billion in 2003 from a level of $64 billion in 2002.

Mr Mwencha also proposed to the delegates attending the meeting that the Motor Vehicles Accident Fund (MVAF) of South Africa be designated to coordinate the activity of COMESA/SADC joint task team in order to harmonise the yellow card scheme and fuel levy.

He said the designation would enable the two regional organisation to quickly respond to the process demand from motorist from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) countries to use the yellow card for their travel in the region.

He said during the 18 years of its operation the yellow card scheme had recorded significant achievement and had grown from strength to strength.

’Through the yellow card COMESA had contributed to improving the competitiveness of its member countries by reducing cross border transport and transaction cost,’ he said.

He said that the yellow card scheme was now a leading trade and transport facilitation which was used widely from Sudan to Zimbabwe and from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to Djibouti.

And Commerce Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Geoffrey Samukonga told the delegates that the new Investment Act which would be tabled in Parliamnet soon had been made conducive for any investor willing to set up in Zambia.

Without elaborating the details in the Act, Mr Samukonga said the Act would be one of the best in Africa.

He called on delegates to the meeting in Siavonga to invest in Zambia as the Investment Act was being reviewed.

Mr Samukonga said that COMESA Free Trade had created positive challenges that were benefiting the consumers and were obliging manufacturers to keep on innovating.

He, however, said that effective functioning of the FTA required simplified and harmonised regional standards and procedures that would help streamline the processing of formalities of trade in goods and reduce transportation and transaction costs.

’I am reliably informed that today more than 60, 000 inter-state vehicles use the yellow card annually; about three million premium income is collected by insurance companies,’ he said.

Several delegates invited by Government from insurance and non-insurance sectors, and from different parts of the world are attending the meeting in Siavonga.