The Herald, Harare
Join FTA, Comesa Urges Member States
(Published by the government of Zimbabwe)
30 May 2007
Harare - The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa has urged member states to join the Free Trade Area before the launch of the Customs Union in December to enable the region to fully achieve trade and customs growth.
Comesa made the appeal at the just-ended 12th Summit Authority of Heads of State and Government in Nairobi, Kenya, after realising that some countries were yet to sign the FTA agreement.
The FTA, established in 2000, aims to promote intra-Comesa trade by removing tariff barriers on goods.
About 11 countries from the 19-member regional bloc have already embraced the initiative and are part of the FTA zone.
"Comesa has noted with satisfaction the rapid and sustained growth in intra-Comesa trade in 2006 over 2005 and commends member states for agreeing to remove the remaining non-tariff barriers," said the regional bloc.
"We, however, urge all member states not yet participating in the FTA to join the FTA before the launch of the Comesa Customs Union in December 2008 to improve trade and customs."
Comesa said the Customs Union was now a reality and member states should work together in making the project a success.
The bloc said all the necessary work and implementation modalities on the Common External Tariff (CET) be finalised soon before the Customs Union sees the light of day.
The CET seeks to harmonise regional tariff rates, especially against imports from outside Comesa.
"Comesa reaffirms the commitment to launch the Customs Union on 8th December 2008."
"We therefore urge that all the necessary technical work and implementation modalities on the CET based on the UN classification system and other related areas be finalised before the next summit of Heads of State and Government to ensure that the Customs Union is launched on December 8, 2008."
Zimbabwe, one of the countries to have signed the FTA, will host next year’s summit.
The 12th Summit Authority of Heads of State and Government in Kenya ran from May 22 to 23 under the theme "Deepening Regional Integration for Diversification and Value Addition". — New Ziana.