ĦĦĦĦADDIS ABABA, May 20 (Xinhuanet) -- The Common Market for Eastern and Southern
Africa (COMESA) will continue to design innovative instruments and enhance the
implementation of programs to deal with challenges facing the organization's
Free Trade Area (FTA), COMESA Secretary-General said here Monday.
ĦĦĦĦAt the opening session of the 13th Council of Ministers of COMESA that will
end on Tuesday, Erastus Mwencha said that the confidence in FTA has been
enhanced by the adoption of the Ministers' Council safeguard and remedial
ĦĦĦĦMwencha's remarks were in response to the concerns about competitiveness of
existing industries and other productive sectors like agriculture as well as
fears of revenue loss as a result of the FTA set up on October 31, 2000 in
Lusaka, capital ofZambia.
ĦĦĦĦ"The COMESA Fund is another innovative instrument," added the
secretary-general, referring to the Fund for Cooperation, Compensation and
Development of COMESA.
ĦĦĦĦA protocol for the establishment of the fund is going to be signed during
COMESA's seventh summit scheduled for May 23-24 after the meeting of Council of
ĦĦĦĦ"For the last six months, considerable effort was made in designing the
fund and in consultations with cooperating partners," he said.
ĦĦĦĦMeanwhile, consultations with the business community through workshops and
ministerial missions aimed at providing information on the FTA and on investment
have also been intensified.
ĦĦĦĦMwencha went on saying that as the transport constitutes a critical link in
the integration arrangement, one of the top priorities for COMESA, the
organization is developing a comprehensive plan to address the high cost of
transport and otherissues.
ĦĦĦĦCOMESA was set up in 1994, with a combined population of 340 million, a
total land mass of about 12.88 million square kilometers and an integrated gross
domestic product of about 170 billion U.S. dollars.
ĦĦĦĦThe current nine-membered FTA is designed by the COMESA as the first step
to establish a single currency zone and, in the long run, a closely integrated
economic community in eastern and southern Africa. Enditem