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The Sixth COMESA Annual Research Forum has begun in Nairobi, Kenya until September 6, organisers say. Policy think-tanks from COMESA Member States, researchers, public and private sector trade experts, innovators in science and technology and representatives of development partners will attend to discuss emerging topical issues in regional integration.

The theme for this year’s Forum is “Promoting Intra-COMESA Trade through Innovation” and it is motivated by the close link between innovation and trade. Thirteen research papers aligned to the theme and which have been competitively chosen, will be presented by the authors for discussion. Later, COMESA will publish the papers in its flagship publication: Key Issues in Regional Integration.

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Among the papers earmarked for presentation include: The role of trade in innovation and socio-economic transformation in COMESA countries; Impact of Intellectual Property Rights on intra-COMESA Trade Flows; Technology Diffusion in COMESA member states: Role of Trade and Human Capital Movements; and Leveraging Innovation and Quality Standards to Increase Intra-regional trade: The Case of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern African Region.

At the forum, innovations that were nurtured through the COMESA Innovation Awards Programme will be showcased. Innovators from Member States have been invited present their innovations with focus on new products, new methods of production and new ways of improving technology.

The Innovation Award programme was launched in 2014 following a decision by the COMESA Heads of State to recognize and celebrate individuals and institutions that have used science, technology and innovation to further the regional integration agenda

Since 2014 COMESA has been organizing Annual Research Forums under a contemporary theme, informed by the COMESA Council of Ministers decisions, the Tripartite Free Trade Area or the Continental Free Trade Area negotiations and aspirations as well the global economic and trade dynamics.

The policy implications from the papers are presented to COMESA policy organs and form the basis for policy decision making.