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Comesa for uniformity in fighting Coronavirus

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The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) through its Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe has called on member states to deploy collective response to the Coronavirus (Covid-19).

The call was made on Tuesday during the first Extra- Ordinary meeting of the Trade and Customs Committee of member states.

In a statement issued following the meeting, Kapwepwe said sole agenda of the meeting was proposed guidelines for the movement of goods and services across the Comesa region.

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Kapwepwe noted that the gains achieved in strengthening market integration, investment and structural transformation are under threat, if member states do not stand together and collectively respond to the crisis.

She further noted that the draft guidelines have been developed to help consolidate and coordinate efforts to manage the situation and rally member states to conform to uniform standards.

“The guidelines are meant to restore faith in the commitments we have made to co-operate in customs and border management, procedures, and activities through simplifying and harmonising their trade documents and procedures as well as to abolish all,” reads part of the statement.

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Kapwepwe cited the adoption of quarantine, social distancing, and restrictions of movement of persons, goods and services in the face of Covid-19 as directly resulting into production cut-downs, loss of jobs, shortage of food and other essential supplies.

“These measures require to be accompanied by pro-poor policy interventions to address immediate challenges such as food insecurity, lack of water and sanitation low social protection and lack of social assistance for the vulnerable,” she added.

The meeting was convened by the Comesa secretariat through videoconference and attended by over 80 trade and customs experts from the 21 member states.

The Comesa brings together 21 African member states with a population of 560 million people into a cooperative framework for sustainable economic growth and prosperity through regional integration.

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