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Nations to harness full COMESA benefits

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 22 – The second phase of a program which is intended to help exporters within the COMESA region fully exploit the market opportunities that exist in the economic bloc is now being rolled out.

Trade Permanent Secretary Cyrus Njiru said on Monday that one of the objectives of the Program for Building African Capacity (PACT II) is to provide support to regional and national institutions so as to enhance export competitiveness and market linkages for Small and Medium Enterprises in high potential sectors.

“It is from this perspective that I consider this event crucial for laying the foundation for the successful implementation of the activities associated with this programme,” the PS said in a speech read on his behalf by Deputy Chief Economist at the Ministry, Richard Sindiga.

He said once implemented, the program would contribute towards consolidating the regional market within the newly launched COMESA Customs Union, which aims to create competitive economic space that would in turn boost trade and investment for partner states.

This, he explained, would also create a platform for more ambitious international ventures and attractive conditions for foreign direct investment.

One of its pillars also involves strengthening of the COMESA Secretariat to enable it take the lead in trade development and promotion, through focusing on value addition and diversification on sectors such as leather and cotton.

The International Trade Centre (ITC), which is implementing the initiative in collaboration with the respective Regional Economic Communities, disclosed that it had established partnerships with secretariats of African regional integration bodies including COMESA as it seek to assist developing countries to expand their export capacity.

ITC Director for Strategy and Program Friedrich von Kirchbach said they plan to work with regional private sector organisations to ensure their voices are heard in trade policy debates.

“Pact II also aims to encourage public-private dialogue which is key to unlocking regional trade expansion,” he said and added that the centre was also trying to strengthen the region’s capacity to develop its own market information systems.

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“A successful approach to exporting means starting from the market. Production without an understanding of the market will not achieve its full potential,” Mr Kirchbach stated.

This would also go a long way in helping Africa’s share of world trade to increase significantly from the current three percent.

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