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Juba, October 2, 2015: COMESA Secretary General, Mr Sindiso Ngwenya led a delegation to the Republic of South Sudan from 29th September, 2015 to 1st October, 2015 to consult with the government on the long awaited integration of the new State into the Regional Economic Community.

The COMESA mission included a courtesy call on His Excellency President Salva Kirr and consultative meetings with senior Government Officials in the Ministries of Finance, Trade, industry and investment and executive management at the Bank of South Sudan (Central Bank).

“The talks focused on the benefits that would accrue to South Sudan upon membership to the regional bloc and in particular from COMESA’s financial institutions that include the PTA Bank, the African Trade Insurance Agency, PTA RE Insurance Agency (ZEP RE), the COMESA Clearing House and the COMESA Infrastructure Fund,” Mr Ngwenya said.

The President underscored the importance of regional cooperation and integration and appreciated the moral and material support that COMESA countries have and continue to individually and collectively contribute to the socio-economic development of South Sudan.

The Secretary General recalled that at the COMESA Summit that was held in Uganda in 2012 arrangements had provided for the Republic of South Sudan to sign the instrument of accession.

Extensive discussions were held with Honourable Mary Jervase Yak, Deputy Minister of Finance, Commerce, Investment and Economic Planning. The Secretary General briefed the Minister on the modalities of extending the COMESA Virtual Trade Facilitation System (CVTFS) to South Sudan. The CVTFS is the basis for COMESA Smart Corridors whose cargo tracking system includes the state of the art trade facilitation instruments, such as, the Single Customs Administrative Document.

The COMESA Regional Transit Bond, the COMESA Yellow Card (insurance scheme) and COMESA Carrier License were also reviewed and South Sudan expressed interest in participating and implementing the programs. A demonstration was also made on the benefits of the CVFTS and its suite of trade facilitation instruments. The demo showed how the cost of transporting a 40 foot container from the port of Mombasa (Kenya) to Juba would drop from US$ 7500 to US$ 5000. Further, the transit times would be reduced from an average of 22 days to 5 days thus contributing to trade efficiency and competitiveness.

The COMESA delegation also highlighted the services that the Secretariat and its autonomous and semi-autonomous institutions offered on capacity building which the Government of South Sudan appreciated the potential benefits it would get. The mission discussed the need for South Sudan to establish Vocational Training Institutes that would cater for the youth and soldiers and ex combatants who have been demobilized.

“We agreed that the skills provided would be tailor made to contribute to the industrial clusters in SEZ's to be established,” Mr Ngwenya said. “The clusters would, among others, include agro-processing, tanneries and leather and foot wear industries.”

In a meeting with Governor of the Central Equatorial State Mr Juma Ali Malou, the discussions centered on how the COMESA Regional Investment Agency could contribute to the implementation of the Republic of South Sudan's Special Economic Zones (SEZ's) which are articulated in detail in Vision 2040. Separate meetings were also held with the Executive Management of the SEZ's.

The visit also provided an opportunity for the Secretary General to get first-hand information and appreciation of the efforts being made by the Government of South Sudan to implement the peace accord that was recently signed with the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO). The Agreement was also signed by a representative of former detainees, civil society organization, and regional and international bodies.

President Salva Kiir reiterated the commitment of his Government to implement the peace accord.