The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the largest regional economic organization in Africa, on Friday urged its member states to remove all barriers that are hindering its integration.
While acknowledging efforts made toward achieving integration, a communique released after the 22nd COMESA Summit of Heads of State and Government said that more needed to be done if the program is to succeed. According to the communique, member countries should remove all restrictions on the movement of people, labour, goods and services across the region.
Member countries have also been urged to remove visa requirements and mutual recognition of qualifications in order to foster intra-trade and investment for the full realization of the benefits of integration. The communique added that the leaders recognized the importance of services in fostering production, employment generation and foreign direct investment and urged members to facilitate the production and movement of goods and services across the region.
While acknowledging the progress made in the enhancement of transparency and efficiency in tackling non-tariff barriers to trade, the leaders urged member states to continue strengthening institutional reforms as well as to enforce protocols and regulations on the elimination of non-tariff barriers.
They also underscored the importance of peace, security and stability for creating an enabling environment for investment, sustained economic development and a viable integration for the region. The summit was held in Lusaka, Zambia, Thursday under the theme, “Economic Integration for a Thriving COMESA Anchored on Green Investment, Value Addition and Tourism.”
COMESA, with an estimated gross domestic product of 805 billion U.S. dollars, is Africa’s largest trading bloc, with 21 members and a population of 583 million.