Lusaka, 20 November 2023: COMESA and the European Union have signed two Financing Agreements which will provide new grants to COMESA with total value of EUR 48.2 million, financed under EU’s Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument, Sub Saharan Africa Program for 2021-2027.
The Trade Competitiveness and Market Access program (EUR 40 million) will focus on improving the overall trade competitiveness of COMESA member states, while seeking opportunities that come along with global challenges, such as climate change, and making trade more sustainable.
The Trade in Services program (EUR 8.2 million) will further contribute to enhancing the overall competitiveness of enterprises, which provide services, including through digital platforms.
The European Union will coordinate closely with COMESA and ensure that both regional programs will not only be implemented most efficiently, but also respond to challenges and opportunities, in order to deliver concrete results and tangible outcomes within COMESA member states.
EU Ambassador to Zambia, Karolina Stasiak signed the agreement with COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe in Lusaka, Zambia. Prior to signing the Agreement, Amb. Stasiak presented her letters of accreditation as the EUs Special Representative to COMESA.
Amb. Stasiak said the Trade Competitiveness and Market Access program, through which the European Union will support COMESA member states, aim to reduce the CO2 footprint of trade and will make trade with European member states fairer and more sustainable.
In her remark, the Secretary General welcomed the Financing Agreements as timely and an important step in the COMESA- EU cooperation efforts, towards a more cohesive approach to programmes implementation.
The European Union is COMESA’s biggest development partner and has been the leading supporter of the COMESA’s regional integration efforts and has invested grant funding of EUR 381 million to date.
European Union’s cooperation with COMESA builds on several key pillars, such as supporting regional integration and connectivity, providing technical and financial assistance to enhance trade facilitation, improving customs procedures, and supporting infrastructure development. Actions support the 21 Member States as well as regional cross-border activities.
“As you begin your tenure here in Zambia, rest assured of our co-operation and support in the execution of your duties. We look forward to continuing strengthening our collaboration in advancing our regional integration agenda”. Ms Kapwepwe said.
Ms Stasiak recalled that the European Union and COMESA share similar objectives, to facilitate regional integration, connectivity and trade. She further underlined that “in view of global challenges we are facing, the European Union calls for making trade fairer and more sustainable. We need to green our economies, make local, regional and global value chains more circular, and significantly reduce the negative impact of our economies on climate.”