Comesa moves to boost exports

US Ambassador to Zambia and special representative to Comesa Eric Schultz (R) , the Comesa secretary general Sindiso Ngwenya (C), USAID deputy mission director for Kenya and East Africa Candace Buzzard (L) signing a Shs261 billion Partnership Agreement to strengthen regional development ahead of the summit. COURTESY PHOT0

Kampala- Inclusive and sustainable industrialisation is one way to help the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) countries to move away from relying on exportation of unprocessed primary commodities to processed products.

Although trade among Comesa member countries increased to $22 billion (Shs74.8 trillion) in 2015 up from $3 billion (Shs10.2 trillion) recorded in 2000, experts say this would be even better if member states complied with value addition.

In order to make the region earn premium prices from value addition, this is one of the major topics scheduled for discussion during the forth-coming 19th Heads of State Summit starting next week in Antananarivo, Madagascar.
In a phone interview with Daily Monitor, Mr Mwangi Gakunga, the head of communications at the Comesa Secretariat, said: “The top decision making organs of Comesa have begun discussions on how to address these challenges that member states face in domesticating decisions taken by the Council of Ministers on the implementation of regional integration programmes at the national and regional levels.”

Hosted under the theme “Inclusive and sustainable industrialisation,” the debate will also address the productive constraints that inhibit inclusive and sustainable transformation of the region.

“Answers to questions as to why the economies rely on export of unprocessed primary commodities with either little or no value addition, to high competitive economies that produce and export value added products will be discussed,” Mr Gakunga added.

In her message to the new board of Uganda Export Promotion Board, Trade minister Amelia Kyambadde said: “Export development should enable us to produce the required quantities and quality of goods and services on a sustainable basis and to add value to what we produce.” Adding, this will help Uganda get and keep her exports onto the markets among which is Comesa.

Non-tariff barriers
The Comesa meeting will also deliberate on the outstanding non-tariff barriers (NTBs) with focus on those that are remaining.
“Latest reports indicate that 96 per cent of the NTBs reported to the Comesa Secretariat have been resolved and states involved are negotiating how to eliminate the rest,” Mr Gakunga shared.

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