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Antananarivo, Tuesday, 18 October 2016: The 19th COMESA Heads of State and Government begun with the election of a new leadership, otherwise known as the Bureau of the COMESA Authority to be led by the President of Madagascar H.E. Hery Rajionarimampianina as Chair for the next one year. Ethiopia's Prime Minister who has been the chair for the past one and six months now becomes the Rapporteur, while Burundi takes the position of the Vice Chair by virtue of being the host of the next summit.

President Rajionarimampianina pledged to dedicate his tenure in pursuit the attainment of industrialization as it was the best option for the region. He described industrialization as the fulcrum and the pillar for reviving the regional economies while underscoring  the importance of Agro-industry, mining and textiles as well as ICT and Innovation.

He called for viable infrastructure for adaptation and economic transformation, which requires finance, stability, energy, and innovation. further, he requested  that particular attention be given to island Member States so they access infrastructure and connectivity, pointing out that island countries bear a heavy burden from climate change.

Prime Minister of Ethiopia thanked Member States for the support accorded to him during his tenure had made great strides that kept regional integration on track. His speech was presented by the State Minister of Finance and Economic Development Hon. Ahmed Shide.

The PM said COMESA had some of the fastest growing economies in the world, and manufacturing activity had improved.

"There is need to strengthen the regional market and boost intra-regional trade, using a developmental approach to economic integration." he said pointing out that COMESA institutions could be helpful in addressing the challenges of a multi-polar world.

Deputy Chair of the African Union Erastus Mwencha was among the keynote speakers. Other speakers were the Deputy President of Kenya William Ruto and the Prime Minister of Swaziland.

In his statement, Mr Mwencha commended COMESA Member States for their contribution to the establishment of the Continetal Free Trade Area through the Tripartite FTA. This will respond to the mega regional trade arrangements being formed by developed countries, he noted.

Further, he welcomed the COMESA 2016-2030 Medium Term Strategic Plan;  and referred to the AU first 10 year Priorities under Agenda 2063 to silence guns by 2020 and to step up economic growth through investing in agriculture.