The number of member States participating in the COMESA Free Trade Area (FTA) has risen to sixteen following the passage of the required law by the Democratic Republic of Congo to join the regional economic community. Â Two other countries are expected enlist any time soon.
Describing this development as positive, Director of Trade at the COMESA Secretariat, Dr Francis Mangeni said this will boost the levels of investment and intra-regional trade for the 19 member bloc.
â€œThe parliament in the DR Congo has passed a law which allows it to join the FTA. Â This is brilliant news because DRC has a very large economy with rich mineral resources, market and population size that will now be included in the lager COMESA market.â€
The accession to the FTA will be done through a three year phase down approach starting in 2016 with a 40% reduction on duty followed by a 30% reduction in 2017 and another 30% in 2018. This will eventually bring the charges to 0% which is a requirement for a country to fully participate in the FTA.
The COMESA FTA was launched in October 2000 to provide duty free and quota free market access to member States on COMESA originating products. The regional grouping has established a set or criteria known as the Rules of Origin to ensure that goods that have undergone some processing or are wholly produced within the region get preferential tariff treatment when crossing the border.
The 16 participating countries are Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of Congo, Egypt, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.