As the region grapples with the Coronavirus pandemic, whose net effect is stunted growth, loss of jobs and incomes, high disease burden and increased levels of poverty, the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Task Force (TTF) has expressed its solidarity with its 28 Member/Partner States.
In a statement signed by the immediate past Chair of the TTF, who is also COMESA Secretary General, Ms Chileshe Kapwepwe, the group urges the States to remain proactive and united in the fight against COVID-19, to minimize disruptions in livelihoods, businesses and transit trade.
The TTF which comprises of the Chief Executives of the three Regional Economic Communities (RECs) notes that the resultant border closures and lockdowns are causing significant reduction in intra-Tripartite trade. The small-scale traders who are the backbone of Tripartite economies as well as transport services, tourism, distribution chains are the most affected.
“We encourage the Tripartite Member/Partner States to conform to uniform standards and regional guidelines in order to minimize disruptions in the supply chain for essential goods, including food supplies across the Tripartite region,” said the statement.
The statement was issued last week, during the 31st meeting of the TTF conducted through teleconference on April 22, 2020. In the statement, the TTF urged the States to facilitate the production and availability of medical goods, including pharmaceutical and equipment to enhance the response to the pandemic.
In addition, they encouraged the States to facilitate cross-border movement of essential goods and services while upholding health and safety requirements.
The statement cited some of the negative effects expected including threats to sustainable development in Tripartite Member States occasioned by diversion of scarce resources towards prevention of the spread and treatment of the disease as well as providing relief to vulnerable groups.
“These will lead to macro-economic impacts including reduced growth, fiscal stress and financial as well as the socio-economic impacts associated with loss of jobs, closure of learning institutions, restrictions of movements and social distancing,” they said.
The TTF appreciated the policies and measures recommended by the World Health Organization, the World Customs Organization and initiatives by the African Union Commission and other Development Partners to combat COVID-19 as well as the guidelines prepared by Tripartite Regional Economic Communities.
The CEOs pledged to continue sharing information and best practices amongst the Member States and facilitating coordination of responses to the Pandemic.