Regional Research Forum to Unveil Interface Between Intra-COMESA Trade and the Continental FTA

The 7th COMESA Annual Research Forum will take place from 19 – 21 October 2020 and this year, the focus is how intra-COMESA Trade can be harnessed through interface with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA).

The virtual event which is being funded by COMESA, the Organization of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) and the European Union (EU) will bring together the academia, think tanks, government officers and the private sector from across the region and Africa, to discuss emerging topical issues in regional integration.

The theme for this year is: “Harnessing Intra-COMESA Trade through the Interface with African Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA)”. According to the COMESA Director of Trade, Dr Christopher Onyango, the theme is  motivated by renewed impetus towards consolidation of  a single continental market and the role of COMESA in the realization of this goal. COMESA is the largest economic bloc with a membership of 21 member States, a combined GDP of US$ 769 billion, a combined population of over 583 million and therefore a critical pillar in the realization of the African Economic Community.

The African regional integration roadmap considers the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) as the building blocks of the African Economic Community as stipulated in the Abuja Treaty of 1991 and the AUs Agenda 2063. COMESA is among the eight RECs in Africa recognized by the AU.

“Making up a third of Africa, the vastness of COMESA should be complemented with its dynamism and high trade growth,” Director of Trade, Dr Christopher Onyango says.

He adds that since the launch of the COMESA Free Trade Area in 2000, intra-COMESA export of goods has risen from $1.5 Billion to about $10.8 Billion (2019), excluding small scale (informal) trade estimated by UNCTAD and Economic Commission for Africa at about 40% of total trade.

“These figures are still not impressive in absolute terms, but the growth is remarkable. What is even more remarkable is the potential as well as the possibility of introducing wholly new products and industries through innovation given the extensive market created by the AfCFTA,” he adds.

The unveiling of the AfCFTA  on 30th May 2019 following ratification by 24 countries (against the threshold of 22 out of the 55) members of the African Union presented a historic opportunity towards fostering structural transformation and strengthening inclusive and sustainable economic growth and development.

“Through evidenced based research, the 7th Annual COMESA Research Forum will unveil the interface between the AfCFTA and the RECs with a specific focus on boosting intra-COMESA trade,” says Dr Onyango.

Key topics in this year forum include: COMESA industrialization programmes and the AfCFTA; AfCFTA opportunities and challenges to boosting Intra-COMESA Trade; COMESA Role in Implementation of the AfCFTA; COMESA trade in services liberalization and the AfCFTA; and AfCFTA and COMESA trade regimes.

Launched in 2014, the COMESA Research Forums provide a platform for exchange of expert ideas and evidenced-based recommendations on policy interventions which have influenced key decisions making in COMESA’s integration agenda.

The forums are made possible through call for papers under a contemporary themes which is informed by the COMESA Council of Ministers Decisions, the Tripartite Free Trade Area or the continental free trade area negotiations and aspirations as well the global economic and trade dynamics.

The research papers are presented for peer review at the forum by prominent scholars and peer reviewers and the selected best papers are  published in the COMESA flagship publication “Key Issues in Regional Integration”. To date, seven editions have been published.

Event’s Programme: Programme – The Seventh COMESA Annual Research Forum rvs

Brief about the Forum: Brief about the COMESA Annual Research Forum