By William Kumwembe:
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and United National Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) have launched a co-delegation agreement to implement trade facilitation projects in the region.
UNCTAD Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi and his Comesa counterpart Chileshe Kapwepwe launched the agreement at Comesa headquarters in Lusaka, Zambia.
Under the agreement, Comesa delegates to UNCTAD the design and development of national and regional Trade Information Portals (TIPs) and the Customs Automation Regional Centre (CARC).
The two activities are worth 3 million euros and will be funded from an 85 million euros kitty provided by the European Union to Comesa under the 11th European Development Fund Trade Facilitation Programme.
Out of this amount, 68 million euros will be used for implementing trade facilitation and small-scale cross border trade.
The TIPs will facilitate easy access to essential trade information in one platform while the CARC will support technical and functional training on the Automated System for Customs Data (Asycuda) World Platform thereby improving skills to develop and use applications.
This is in addition to developing the latest Asycuda Applications to enhance trade facilitation systems at the national, regional and continental levels.
Kapwepwe said the co-delegation was informed by UNCTAD’s experience and expertise in promoting trade facilitation, and capacity in modernising customs administrations and Asycuda.
“I am confident that UNCTAD will deliver the expected outcomes as enshrined in the Co-delegation Agreement,” Kapwepwe said.
In his address, Kituyi said regional integration and the deepening integration through trade were largely dependent on the success of Comesa as the regional organisation.
“You are the core and not only of the Tripartite (Tree Trade Area) but at the very base of how to develop the architecture and practicalities of Africa’s Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA),” he said.
“In no way are we going to downplay the centrality facilitated in trade, not only as a way of making Africa competitive but also overcoming the challenges particularly of landlocked countries on the continent which faces the daunting task in competitively trading with the rest of the world.”