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The Secretariat has been conducting training workshops to assist Member States raise the standards of their trade statistics as part of the implementation of the COMESA Statistics Strategy.

The strategy has a number of statistical clusters whose domestication requires deepening and in some cases initiation. It covers the harmonized consumer price index, international merchandise trade statistics and statistics of international trade in services. Others include infrastructure statistics, foreign direct investment statistics and statistics related to the international comparison programme.

Zimbabwe is the latest beneficiary of this programme where a capacity building workshop was conducted by the COMESA Secretariat. It targeted Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA) and Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency (ZIMSTAT). The main objectives were to equipping their staff with skills to produce foreign trade statistics and to harmonizing Zimbabwean merchandise trade statistics in line with international standards and COMESA council decisions.

The topics covered during the training included the alignment of trade taxes, implementation of the new International Merchandise Trade Statistics (IMTS) recommendations and COMESA Council decisions relating to production of statistics. Data programmer Mr Wilson Chizebuka and Data Analyst Mr Happy Bota conducted the training.

The beneficiaries of this workshop are key ministries and regional/international organizations that use the data, policy makers and researchers in member states and the general public.

Addressing the participants during the opening of the workshop, the Director of Income Analysis Division from ZIMSTAT, Mr Nelson Taruvinga expressed gratitude to COMESA for the technical assistance extended to his country and in particular to ZIMSTAT.

He emphasized the need for COMESA to expedite the process of assisting ZIMSTAT in the production of trade price indices.

The participants were encouraged to keep themselves abreast of new technologies in the area of trade statistics and related software in order to cope with the new versions that are constantly being unveiled on the market.