The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and United National Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) have today launched a Co-delegation Agreement to implement trade facilitation projects in the region.

UNCTAD Secretary General Dr Mukhisa Kituyi and his COMESA counterpart Chileshe Kapwepwe launched the Agreement Friday at the 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).

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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 to implement 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.

COMESA Secretary General said the co-delegation was informed by UNCTAD’s experience and expertise in promoting trade facilitation, and capacity in modernizing Customs Administrations, and ASYCUDA being its intellectual property.

“I am confident that UNCTAD will deliver the expected outcomes as enshrined in the Co-delegation Agreement,” she said.

In his address Kituyi said the engine of regional integration and the deepening integration through trade is largely dependent on the success of COMESA as the regional organization with the largest member states and a very substantial component of the African economy.

“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.”

He said UNCTAD, is a proud partner of COMESA and its Member States, having carried out substantial work together in creation and strengthening of national trade facilitation committees.

“We offer from our expertise and our experience backstopping to the trade facilitation subcommittee of COMESA, and I would like to share with the Secretary General our willingness and availability [as UNCTAD] to build on the co-delegation agreement other shared responsibilities,” Kituyi said.

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