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Comesa members urged to fund programmes

Reliance on donors outside the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) trading bloc has affected integration and promotion of trade among member states. Secretary general Sindiso Ngwenya said inter-regional trade can only flourish if members states accept to own their own commitment to the spirit the body exists for.

Currently, more than 80 per cent of Comesa programmes are funded by cooperating partners. As a result, Ngwenya said most economies still rely on production and exportation of raw materials.

“There is need to transform our economies from over reliance on raw exports. Value addition will continue to drive Comesa’s planning and execution agenda,” he said.

Addressing delegates from 10 out of the 19 member states, he said such pursuits, should involve developing the necessary strengths and resilience, as well as the capacity to enhance competitiveness, innovation and growth through industrialisation and trade facilitation.

On market integration, he said the challenges towards seamless flow of goods, free movement of persons, capital and other objectives are still daunting. “Intra-regional trade remains low — below 10 per cent— transaction costs are still very high and huge obstacles exist to the free movement of goods, capital, investments and people in form of non-tariff and technical barriers,” he said. The block has reviewed and pledged commitment to the reviewed 2016-2020 Comesa medium term strategic plan.

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