Madagascar is set to receive one million euros to support its regional integration programmes following the signing of a Grant Agreement between the government and COMESA, Thursday 16 June 2016. The funds are part of a €111 million kitty provided by the European Union under the 9th and 10th European Development Fund through the COMESA Adjustment Facility (CAF).

Currently, 16 COMESA countries are participating in CAF namely, Burundi, Comoros, DR Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Slightly over €82.4 million has been approved for support with the balance of resources, amounting to € 22 million expected to be considered for member States in 2016 and 2017.

The signed Grant Agreement is a first for Madagascar under the CAF. It was approved by the COMESA Fund Minsters in 2014. The country also has the opportunity to receive an additional amount close to 1.3 million Euros in 2016 and 2017 subject to progress in fulfilling its regional commitments.

The Minister of Finance, Mr. Francois Rakotoarimanana and the COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya signed the Grant on behalf of their respective institutions witnessed by the Head of EU Delegation to Madagascar, Mr. Antonio Sanchez-Benedito Gaspar and the Minister for Trade Mr. Armand Tazafy.

Mr Ngwenya said the funds will be utilized towards supporting one of Madagascar’s objectives under its National Development Plan, which is to develop inclusive growth and development of its local industries.

“This involves supporting local enterprises through capacity building initiatives that uplift priority sectors of the economy and facilitates their market access through trainings and reinforcement of the institutions on which local exporters depend,” the Secretary General said.

He observed that the realization of this objective would lead Madagascar to improving its production base and export potential, which is essential for the growth of its exports and improving its participation in regional and global trade. In addition the project will enhance trade capacities for key trade institutions within and outside the government.

He further noted: “A notable key feature of the project is its focus to provide capacity building activities to support local institutions. These include the National Standards Bureau, and the National Institute of Trade and Competition. The aim is to make sure they provide the adequate support to local exporters and acceptable evidence that products and services meet defined requirements demanded by authorities or international markets.”

He said this would also respond to the complaints of many local producers/exporters who have recently had their goods blocked at foreign transit areas because of their non-adherence to international standards, whether relating to Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures or packaging-related.

Expressing his appreciation, Minister Rakotoarimanana said the facility will strengthen the technical capacity to implement regional integration programmes in the country.

“This facility will improve coordination, implementation and monitoring of capacity related to regional integration and enhance market access for products from Madagascar,” he said adding that it will also help to raise the quality of such products to meet regional and international standards.

The top export destinations of Madagascar are France ($534M), the United States ($219M), Belgium-Luxembourg ($173M), Germany ($161M) and South Africa ($159M). Exports to COMESA countries are; Mauritius ($39.3M), Kenya ($15.6M), and Comoros ($6.88M), representing less than 2% of Madagascar’s exports, which the Secretary General described as unfortunate.

On the hosting of the COMESA Summit in October, the Minister described it as an exceptional opportunity for Madagascar to strengthen cooperation with regional States as well as developing business opportunities and partnerships.