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Malawi, others to pilot Comesa-eCo

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Malawi and fourteen other Common Market for East and Central Africa (Comesa) member states are earmarked for the piloting of the electronic certificate of origin (eCo) starting early next month.

The facility is aimed enhancing ease of trade among the countries.

A Comesae-newsletter issued last week says the need to start implementing the eCo system has gained urgency given the challenges that movement of goods across borders is facing.

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This is as a result of restrictive measures put in place by countries in response to coronavirus pandemic.

Comesa Director of Trade and Customs, Christopher Onyango, said the emergence of Covid-19 pandemic calls for speedy implementation of the Comesa eCo by all member states.

“This, together with the improvement of customs cooperation and trade facilitation will no doubt enhance intra-regional trade and attract more investments into the region,” Onyango said.

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Spokesperson in the Ministry of Industry and Trade, Mayeso Msokera, confirmed the development, saying implementation of the initiative will depend on a situation assessment by the block in each country.

“Precise date cannot be given now. But member states were requested to express interest to be part of the piloting by end June,” Msokera said.

Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) Head of Real Sector and Macroeconomic Policy, Hope Chavula, said the move will simplify certification processes for exporters.

“This will also reduce transactional costs involved in the paper certificates of origin therefore, bringing efficiency, accuracy and transparency,” Chavula said.

The eCo will replace the manual certificates and help to circumvent the onerous manual process.

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