COMESA | 26 April 2021
Tunisia ready to participate in the COMESA free trade regime
By Mwangi Gakunga
Tunisia is ready to fully participate in the COMESA Free Trade Area regime (FTA) one year after giving notification of participation in the trade regime in March, 2020.
To prepare for this, the COMESA Secretariat through the Division of Trade conducted a three-day virtual sensitization workshop for Tunisia on 20th April 2021, covering not only the FTA but other trade facilitation instruments as well.
Participants were drawn from the Tunisian government and the private sector. COMESA Assistant Secretary General for Programmes Amb. Kipyego Cheluget opened the event by welcoming Tunisia’s decision to join the FTA.
“We welcome this decision by Tunisia,” Amb. Cheluget said. “It is encouraging to note that traders and producers from Tunisia are already active in the COMESA market going by the number of notifications to the Secretariat of emerging NTB’s already being encountered in its commercial transactions.”
Besides the FTA, COMESA is implementing various programmes aimed at promoting regional integration through trade. They include infrastructure upgrading, enhancing competitiveness of industry and agricultural sectors and social programmes that address issues of gender, health and better use of natural and human resources.
The FTA was established in 2000 under the trade integration pillar and is one of the major milestone which has contributed to growth in regional trade which is now at an average of 7% every year with a higher increase reflected among participating Member States.
Notwithstanding, the region’s potential for growth is set back by among other factors, non-tariff barriers, inadequate infrastructure, high cost of doing business, limited information on available market opportunities and supply side constraints.
Going forward, the Secretariat intends to address some of these constraints through the implementation of the Digital Free Trade Area (DFTA) instruments such as the COMESA electronic certificate of origin and the COMESA online market and by increasing the scope of trade in services.
The COMESA FTA started off with nine Member States participating in a scheme that provides for duty free quota free trade and has now grown to 16 Member States with the participation of Tunisia.
Tunisia joined COMESA in 2018.