Lusaka, Monday, October 30, 2017: The 37th meeting of the COMESA Intergovernmental Committee (IC) opened in Lusaka today. The IC brings together Permanent /Principal secretaries to discuss and review implementation of regional integration programmes and activities and making recommendations to the Council of Ministers for decision making.
Zambia’s Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry Mrs Margaret Mwanakatwe, who officially opened the meeting said the implementation of regional commitments and full-scale participation of all member States in COMESA programmes requires improvement.
“The low level of transposition of regional instruments at Member States level has negatively affected the implementation of various programme,” she said. In this regard, there is need for Member States to implement agreed Summit Decisions.”
The meeting was informed on the progress made towards the realization of a full free trade area. Currently 16 out the 19 countries have joined the free trade area since it was launched in 2000. The Secretariat is providing technical assistance the remaining countries to join the COMESA FTA.
On infrastructure, COMESA is providing leadership in enhancing connectivity by taking a holistic corridor-based approach to infrastructure development and management. This is based on three pillars namely policy and regulatory harmonization, facilitation and development of priority regional physical infrastructure covering transport, information communications technologies and energy.
A report of the COMESA Ministers of Industry who met in September this year was presented to the IC for noting. The ministers adopted the industrial strategy for the region which focuses on energy, textiles and garments, agro-processing, leather and leather products, agro- chemicals and mineral beneficiation among others.
Minister Mwanakatwe appealed to member states to consider appropriate funding of the COMESA budget for us to sustain efforts made so far.
She said: “Over the years, the resource envelope has continued to shrink. This has resulted in some of COMESA’s flagship programmes being discontinued and more are likely to follow.”
She also appealed to the IC to recommend to the Council of Ministers the implementation of the approved organization structure of the Secretariat. This would greatly enable the smooth operationalization of work programmes.
COMESA programmes are guided by the Treaty, the Medium Term Strategic Plan and the decisions of the Council of Ministers and the Summit. These provide a roadmap for deepening the integration process through the consolidation of the FTA.
Other programmes include development of cross border economic infrastructure, development of agriculture and industry, enhancement of peace and security, mainstreaming of gender, climate change adaptation and mitigation, establishment of the Customs Union, the Common Market and the Monetary union among others.