COMESA set to Admit Tunisia in October

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· Promotes $500m Economic Projects in Malawi

The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is set to admit Tunisia into its fold during the next COMESA Summit in October 2017 and has also disclosed its promotion of projects estimated at about $500million in Malawi to boost the country’s manufacturing and export potentials.

Tunisia has revealed that it will sign the COMESA Treaty which will herald its admission to the regional economic community as its 20th Member State.

Tunisian Prime Minister and Head of Government His Excellency Mr Yousef Achahed told a visiting COMESA delegation that his country was ready to conclude the negotiations early in readiness for the accession to the COMESA Treaty.

The COMESA delegation led by the Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya is in Tunisia this week to discuss with the government the steps towards joining the largest regional bloc in Africa.

The mission is in fulfillment of the decision of the 19th COMESA Heads of State Summit held in Madagascar in October 2016 that mandated the Bureau of the Council of Ministers to enter into negotiations with the Republic of Tunisia on the terms and conditions of accession to the COMESA Treaty.

The bilateral talks focused on the activities to be undertaken by Tunisia as part of the preparations to accede to the COMESA Treaty. The Secretary General briefed the Prime Minister on COMESA and explained that the membership of Tunisia will be a single undertaking;

“What this means is that it will require Tunisia to simultaneously join COMESA financial, technical, semi-autonomous and autonomous institutions,” the SG told the Prime Minister. COMESA has nine institutions, two specialized agencies and a judicial arm all located in different member States.

As part of the preparations for launching the negotiations between the Bureau of Council and Tunisia, the COMESA delegation held separate discussions with the Minister of Trade and Industry HE Zeid Ladhari and with the Minister of Development Investment and International Cooperation HE Mohamed Fadhel Abdelkefi.

The two Ministers reiterated the readiness and commitment of Tunisia to contribute to the realization of the objectives of COMESA, once the country is admitted.

The COMESA delegation which includes the Director of Trade and Customs Dr Francis Mangeni and Director of Legal Affairs Mr Brian Chigawa will be meeting with other Ministers and private sector

Article 4 of the Treaty provides that the COMESA Authority may admit a country which is an immediate neighbour of a Member States upon fulfilling conditions set forth including acceptance of the COMESA aims and objectives, compliance with the general undertakings and fundamental principles and wishing to co-operate with COMESA.

A new member, upon admission, is bound by the provisions of the Treaty and shall within six month thereafter deposit the instruments of acceptance and accession with the Secretary General.

Meanwhile in Malawi, COMESA is promoting a combined $500 million worth of projects geared towards regional trade and integration. The projects are mainly in manufacturing, energy and agriculture.

Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya told the new Malawi Permanent Representative to COMESA H.E Warren Bamus Gunda that Malawi has played leading roles in achieving many integration milestones.

“The COMESA Treaty came into force in Malawi on 8 December 1994 during the tenure of the Prof Bingu Wa Mutharika as the Secretary General of COMESA who was also its architect,” Mr Ngwenya said.

He said Prof Wa Mutharika who later became the President of Malawi, was the architect of the Treaty and also oversaw the transition of the Preferential Trade Area (PTA) to COMESA.

Mr Gunda who is also the High Commissioner of Malawi to Zambia was at the COMESA Secretariat to pay a courtesy call on the Secretary General and to discuss regional integration matters. This was in addition to facilitating a planned mission by the Secretary General to Malawi.

Malawi is a founding Member of COMESA and participates in many regional development initiatives and even security programmes. It is part of the intervention brigade involved in peace keeping in the eastern frontier of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

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