In light of the various disruptions to business and supply chains across the region due to COVID-19, the COMESA Business Council has committed to support regional production and trade of essential supplies such as masks and sanitizers and to address the challenges regarding air cargo logistics within the region.
According to CBC Chairperson, Mr. Marday Venkatasamy, local production capacity should be enhanced as Africa can be an alternative source market for essential medical supplies. He cited the production of masks within COMESA countries as sufficient to meet the regional demand. Subsequently, the CBC has recommended for the development of a regional database of suppliers of essential products and medical supplies to address the gaps within the countries.
Mr. Venkatasamy was speaking during the 14th meeting of the CBC Board of Directors recently, whose agenda was to review the performance of the Council including the current challenges that the regional business community was facing as a result of the Covid- 19 pandemic.
The Board welcomed the development of harmonized guidelines adopted by COMESA Council of Ministers last month, which have reinforced the CBC’s regional Business Position Statement issued earlier. Among key recommendations of the Board was the implementation of instant border measures inquiry and reporting and monitoring platform. This will consist of border coordination platform that supports notification and resolution of impediments in light of the increase in challenges at the border.
Affirming the CBC position, COMESA Secretary General, Chileshe Kapwepwe, is an ex-official member of the Board, underscored the need for harmonized approaches towards addressing the Covid-19 response measures in place to address the border corridor impediments.
She said under the coordination of the African Union, COMESA and other regional economic communities are consolidating efforts to facilitate increased production capacity and trade of pharmaceutical products and essential supplies within the region. She emphasized the importance of increased information-sharing in order to promote business linkages and regional sourcing of essential supplies in COMESA.
During the meeting, key issues on the CBC policy agenda were discussed including the reports on: Promoting Agro-Industry Supply Chains along the Transport Corridors of Eastern and Southern; the Business Trader Observer (BTO): An Annual Survey of Business Impediments Along Trade and Transport Corridors in COMESA; the Regional Code on Anti-Corruption Compliance for Enterprises; and the Digital Financial Inclusion- Business Case report on a regional digital common payments scheme for MSMEs.
CBC Chief Executive Officer Ms. Sandra Uwera said the CBC will support training programs on the implementation of the Regional Code on Anti-Corruption Compliance for Enterprises to empower the Associations on compliance. The Code was developed to inform national anti-corruption compliance policies within the operations of enterprises and associations.
The meeting was attended by Presidents and CEOs of national apex private sector Associations and Chambers of Commerce from the COMESA region.