Ambassador, Jacek Jankowski, Head of Delegation of the European Commission to the Republic of Zambia, and;
Ambassador Antonino Maggiore, Italian Ambassador to the Republic of Zambia
My colleagues, the Assistant Secretaries General
Directors and other staff from COMESA Secretariat
Members of the Press,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me to welcome their excellencies, the two ambassadors to Zambia and specifically to COMESA Secretariat. Let me also congratulate you upon your new assignments and extend my best wishes in your new roles.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
I would like to specifically address myself to the Newly appointed Head of the EU Delegation to Zambia, and now being accredited Special representative to COMESA. As you may be aware, the European Union has consistently supported COMESA’s integration programmes over the years. Indeed, the European Union has been, and continues to be, a very important Development Partner to COMESA as the largest funder and for that we remain grateful.
COMESA is one of the five Regional Economic Communities (RECs) that has received substantial funding under the current 11th EDF Regional Indicative Programme (RIP), with an allocation of EUR 85 million, to assist implement COMESA regional integration priorities. The 85M is distributed in 3 key objectives, namely;
- Trade Facilitation Programme, for an amount of 53M euros. This programme aims at supporting COMESA to;
- increase intra-regional trade flows of goods,
- free movement of persons and services by reducing the costs/delays of imports/exports at specific border posts through reduction of Non Tarif Barriers (NTBs),
- implementation of digital Free Trade Area (FTA) & implementation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA),
- improvements of Coordinated Border Management (CBM) and
- liberalisation of Trade In Services (TIS), among others.
- Small Scale Cross Border Trade total of 15M, focusing on support to increase formal small-scale cross border trade flows in the COMESA/tripartite region, leading to higher revenue collection for government at the borders as well as increased security and higher incomes for small scale cross border traders.
The two programmes mentioned above are currently being implemented and steady progress of achievements of some of the deliverables have been shared with the delegation and I am sure that you have been briefed accordingly.
- In addition to the above programmes, further funding amounting to 10m euros, is provided to support private sector initiatives, aimed at increasing private sector participation in regional and global value chains, through improved investment/business climate and enhanced competitiveness. Your Excellency, the programme is at the final designing and approval stage. It is my hope that the Contribution agreement will be signed before the end of the year to initiate implementation of the same.
Finally, the third objective has a total of €7 million aimed at enhancing the capacity of the COMESA Secretariat and member states, including the private sector, to deepen regional integration. The Action Document is being finalized. My team is working closely with your services, to revise the document following the validation meeting held in September 2019, which I chaired personally, to ensure that the final document is concluded without any further delays.
You will be happy to note that COMESA has achieved over 90% of formulation of the 85 million Euros 11 EDF COMESA sub envelop and is actively involved in the formulation processes on the cross regional envelop, together with the other RECs/DMROs.
Your Excellency, allow me to inform you that all programming and formulation processes for EU support is undertaken in full consultation with our Member States, as well as working very closely with your office. This approach has enabled us to achieve the formulation and will facilitate faster implementation of the full envelop in due course.
Implementation of the Old programmes
Ladies and Gentlemen
As I indicated earlier, over and above the 11th EDF, the EU has supported COMESA through a number of other programmes. In the interest of time, I will not go into details of each of them. However, allow me to quickly highlight a few of them;
The RISM Programme: under this programme, COMESA obtained funding from the European Union (EU) to support Member States primarily through the COMESA Adjustment Facility (CAF) and a total of over 110m euros has been received and extended to member states to support them in the implementation of various regional integration programmes.
RISP Programme: In addition to the above, COMESA also received support from the EU through The Regional Integration Support Programme (RISP) which started under the 9th European Development Fund (EDF) with the specific objective of developing the capacity of the Regional Integration Organizations (ROs) and their member states in policy formulation, implementation and monitoring of the regional integration agenda as well as multilateral and regional trade.
Additional support has also been provided under the MASE/APSA programme as well as from the Cross regional envelop, especially for the infrastructure programme on ICT and implementation of the TFTA activities.
As you will note, this is not a comprehensive report and I look forward to an opportunity when we can meet to share detailed reports of the status of EU support, which has greatly benefited COMESA and its member states.
Italian Cooperation with COMESA;
Ambassador Antonino Maggiore;
Our Cooperation and partnership with the Italian Government is also very strong.
Allow me to inform those who may not be aware that Italy is one of the biggest Member Countries of the European Union, with a population of over 60million people and with the longest Mediterranean coastline. Its capital – Rome, is home to the Vatican;
May I also inform you, Your Excellency, that I recently received and accepted the accreditation letter for H.E Gianfranco Gallone; the Vatican Ambassador & Apostolic Nuncio to the Republic of Zambia, as a Special Representative to COMESA, on the 23rd of September 2019.
It is important to note that, Italy has continued to be amongst the largest development partners for developing countries and surpassed the OECD recommendation to developed countries to raise ODA target of 0.7% of GNI. Italy remains a strong partner in various programmes for Africa in areas such as peace and stability and in promoting a fair, sustainable and shared prosperity.
As you may be aware, the cooperation between COMESA and Italy started as far back as December 1997, when officials from the Italian Industry and the Italian Embassy paid visit to COMESA Secretariat. It was then that COMESA Secretariat and the Italian Government started joint programmes in the Agro-industry in the COMESA region.
Indeed, there are potential areas where COMESA and Italy could work together to further strengthen our cooperation and partnership. These could include among others;
- support to the livestock sector where Italy has technology,
- the leather sector and the development of leather and leather products. Italian designers are world class designers of particularly footwear and handbags. Joint ventures can be developed taking into account the relocation made by Italian tanneries (its experience with Tunisia) to a number of COMESA countries, through the COMESA Secretariat.
- Support for cortege manufacturing/ value addition (SME development): regarding Garment/apparel and agro- processing, so on. Italian firms can assist to build the capacity of COMESA SMEs to access the global markets.
I, therefore look forward your Excellency to our further engagement as we develop other possible areas of collaboration.
As I conclude,
I wish to inform you, that COMESA will be celebrating 25 years of promoting regional development and integration for the COMESA Member States and I would like therefore to invite you to join us in various celebration events scheduled for November 2019 here in Lusaka and look forward to your participation.
I congratulate you upon your appointments and wish you success in your tenure, during which time you can count on our full support. I therefore, formally accept your letters of credence and accredit you to the list of Special Representatives to COMESA.
I thank you.
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