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One of the key milestones achieved during the tenure of Ethiopia leadership of the COMESA Council of Ministers was the launching of the Tripartite Free Trade Area on 10 June 2015 in Egypt,   Hon. Ahmed Shide, immediate former chair of the Council has said.

He said this when he handed the chairmanship to Hon. Armand Tazafy, the Minister of Trade and Consumption in Madagascar, Honorable Armand Tazafy during the opening of the 36th COMESA Council of Ministers in Antananarivo, Friday 14, October 2016

Hon. Shide who is the State Minister of Finance and Economic Cooperation of Ethiopia described the event as historical as it provided the framework for the Continental Free Trade Area.

“This epochal event was achieved under the stewardship of COMESA. I would like to commend the Council, the Secretariat and all senior officials for the good work and remarkable achievements they made towards the finalization and launching of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement,” Hon Shide said.

During the last one and half years of Ethiopian leadership, the Minister said COMESA has continued to implement key programmes that have kept the free trade area vibrant and good for business.  This notwithstanding many challenges faced in attaining the seamless flow of goods, free movement of persons, capital and other objectives.

“Intra-regional trade remains abysmally low - below 10 percent, transaction costs are still very high and huge obstacles exist to the free movement of goods, capital, investments and people in form of non-tariff and technical barriers to trade,” noted the Minister.

“A comprehensive study presented this year has found that there is immense potential for intra-COMESA trade, estimated at $83 billion. This is in trade with rest of the world by member States through promotion of specialization and developing regional value-chains, as well as improvement in the quality of exports,” he said.

The in-coming Chairperson hon. Armand Tazafy appreciated the honour of chairing the Ministerial Council for the next one year