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East and Southern Africa look to strengthen trade ties

Terrific threesome
CHIEF NEGOTIATOR, MINISTRY OF INVESTMENT,TRADE AND INDUSTRY: Phazha Butale

The COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Council of Ministers, chaired by Rwanda, recently held its 2nd extraordinary meeting.

Formed in 2011 and consisting of 26 African nations, the three-way partnership was established to strengthen economic integration between Southern and Eastern Africa.

Representing the local front at the meeting, were Ministerial trio: Karabo Gare, Annah Mokgethi, and Thulaganyo Segokgo as well as various senior officials.

The main aim of the discussions was to consider and adopt various legal documents to enable free trade. Guidelines were also reviewed to aid cross-border procedures.

“The purpose of the meeting was to consider the guidelines for management and monitoring of safe cross-border movement of persons and personal goods while mitigating the spread of Covid-19. These guidelines will ensure, notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic, trade between countries will continue unabated with predictable rules to be applied across borders,” explained Chief Negotiator at Ministry of Investment, Trade, and Industry (MITI), Phazha Butale in an interview with Voice Money following the completion of the meeting.

The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) aims to remove tariffs and other barriers to trade while also providing flexibility to enable industrial development in member states.

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“Consequently trade between member states will increase exponentially with potential for spillover of effects of industrial and infrastructure developments and employment creation while also growing economies of member states,” continued Butale, adding the meeting was necessary given the minor challenges regularly experienced by transporters and traders when doing cross-border business.

As such, the reviewed guidelines are expected to iron out some of the sticky issues that are making it hard for countries to grow globally.

It is hoped the FTA meeting will help bolster economic revival following the devastating effects brought by Covid-19.

*The tripartite Council of Ministers consists of cross-sectoral Ministers responsible for Trade, Transport, Health, Immigration, and Agriculture.

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