Lusaka, Monday, November 25, 2019: Close to three hundred delegates have converged in Lusaka to attend the 40th COMESA Intergovernmental Committee Meeting which opened on Monday 25th November. This is an annual forum for delegates from Member States to review the implementation of COMESA’s regional integration programmes and the state of development in the region.
The three days meeting is attended by Permanent/Principal Secretaries, ambassadors and technical experts from the 21 COMESA Member States. The meeting will review the COMESA budget for 2020 and work programme and human resources matters. Its recommendations will be presented to the Council of Ministers meeting on Friday this week for decision-making.
The meeting comes ahead of the celebrations to mark the 25th COMESA Anniversary on Thursday, 28 November 2019 in Lusaka.
To open the meeting was the Zambia Minister of Trade, Commerce and Industry Hon Honourable Christopher Yaluma. He described the regional bloc a leader in continental integration through policy development, harmonization and coordination in specific areas of customs management, technical cooperation, institutional development and capacity building.
“The success of COMESA can be witnessed in the expansion of its membership bringing together 21 Member States with a total population of 560 million people,” the Minister said in a statement presented by the Permanent Secretary Mr. Mushuma Mulenga.
In the recent past, COMESA has focused on promoting digital technology by introducing ICT systems to support implementation of the digital Free Trade Area. Work has been undertaken to finalize policy guidelines and regulations to guide the operationalization of customs and trade facilitation instruments including the electronic Certificate of Origin.
Over the years, the organization has recorded successes in different sectors of regional integration. This includes having a Free Trade Area which now consists of 16 out of the 21 Member States. These countries trade on a duty-free-quota-free basis. About 98 percent of all Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs) reported in the past ten years have been eliminated.
In her remarks, Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe called for enhanced implementation of agreed decisions and domestication of COMESA instruments. She said, the operationalization of the 50 Million Woman-Speak Project and the monumental progress in the infrastructure sector are some of the positive strides being recorded in COMESA’s regional integration programme.
The Head of the European Union Delegation to Zambia and Special Representative to COMESA, Ambassador Jacek Jankowski and heads of cooperating and development partners of COMESA addressed meeting.