Harare – The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA) and Common Market for Eastern Southern and Africa (COMESA) have established a framework to support implementation of a continental trade regime.
A new report published by COMESA says a partnership between the two organisations is key to deepening Africa’s industrial development.
It identifies some of the key challenges affecting regional trade as dependency on development partners for financing, slow ratification of instruments and the high cost of doing business. Technical teams from the two organisations have started working on addressing these challenges and fleshing out the parameters of their co-operation.
In the report, AfCFTA Secretary-General Mr Wamkele Mene said regional economic communities should support implementation of the continental trade agreement.
“The priority now is how to work together to push back the frontiers of poverty in our continent and to achieve this, industrial development and deepening intra-Africa trade should always be among key areas of focus,” he said.
Mr Mene noted that COMESA was Africa’s biggest regional economic community and had well-established institutions, thus making it a key factor in AfCFTA’s success.
COMESA Secretary-General Ms Chileshe Kapwepwe weighed in saying the bloc was keen to work with AfCFTA to advance intra-Africa trade.
“We need to work together to deepen intra-Africa trade as this is the only answer to the many challenges that our continent is facing. Trade in many areas such as agriculture production and developing our manufacturing and industrial sectors can greatly assist Africa,” she said.
Ms Kapwepwe also called for the extension of the Pan-African Payment System, currently being piloted in the Economic Community for West African States. She pointed out that the COMESA Clearing House was implementing the Regional Payment and Settlement System (REPSS), which provided a single gateway for central banks in the region to transact in a multicurrency environment in an efficient manner that boosted trade.