The final activity of a project that aims at contributing to COMESA’s overall goals of having sustainable economic development and poverty reduction in the region was held in Lusaka from 10th to 13th April 2018. The project titled ‘Targeted Support to the COMESA Secretariat to Enhance its Regional Trade Integration Agenda’ was launched in May 2017 with financial support from the European Union through Tradecom II.

The objective of the event in Lusaka is to consider the results of the four sets of interventions and related studies and provide requisite training on inputs to the negotiations of the second tier of the named areas. The project goals are expected to be achieved through closer regional integration and increased participation in the global economy.

Experts from CESO Development Consultants were tasked to carry out various studies on support to implementation of the COMESA Trade in Services Programme. They included the review of COMESA Rules of Origin; Study on COMESA Member States Positioning to Benefit from the Emerging Economies; and Mainstreaming Gender / Women and Youth in COMESA’s regional trade integration.

TradeCom II had been requested for technical assistance to undertake analytical work that would enhance the region’s trade integration. The assistance sought was on: analytical work on trade in services covering the three additional priority services sectors of Business Services; energy services as well as construction and related engineering services and frameworks on Mutual Recognition Agreements as well as on Movement of Persons.

Others were, the review of the COMESA Rules of Origin, including the design of an electronic certificate of origin; developing a COMESA Strategy to engage the emerging economies; and mainstreaming gender and youth in regional integration.

During the meeting, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Commerce, Trade and Industry, Zambia, Mrs. Kayula Siame called on the participants to thoroughly interrogate the issues raised in the studies and provide the necessary comments and guidance that would assist the consultants to enrich the reports and make them more relevant.

Equally, the Director of Trade at COMESA Secretariat Dr Francis Mangeni called on the participants to objectively examine the outputs and provide further inputs that would guide the consultants as they finalized the reports.

A representative of the European Delegation to Zambia, Mr Joseph Silavwe indicated that the EU was following keenly on the studies. Further, EU appreciated the synergies with the programmes that itwas developing with COMESA under the EDF 11.

Ms Maura Nunziatini, from TradeCom II PMU, pointed out that TradeCom II was pleased to be part of the process and expected the study outputs to stand the test of time for years to come. The project was viewed as a best practice and was featured at a Knowledge Sharing event held in Brussels in February 2018.

Participants at the Lusaka meeting were drawn from Comoros, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The European Delegation in Zambia, Tradecom II Project Monetary Unit, FEMCOM and CUTS were also represented.