By HELEN ZULU –
THE Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has continued to face challenges in implementing instruments and policies that have been developed to improve the region’s integration agenda.
Commerce, Trade and Industry Minister Margaret Mwanakatwe said the implementation of regional commitments and full scale participation of all Member States in the COMESA programmes was an area that still required improvement.
Ms Mwanakatwe said in this regard, there was need for member states to implement agreed Summit Decisions saying the low level of transposition of regional instruments at member states level had negatively affected the implementation of various programmes.
She said this during the official opening of the 37th Inter-governmental Committee meeting in Lusaka yesterday.
“As much as instruments and policies have been developed to improve the region’s integration agenda, we continue to face implementation challenges
“I appeal to all member states to review their commitments and rededicate themselves to the ideals and goals set out in the COMESA treaty,” Ms Mwanakatwe said.
She said the implementation of work programmes was essentially contingent upon availability of funding which had over the years been shrinking.
Ms Mwanakatwe said this had resulted in some of COMESA’s flagship programmes being discontinued.
She appealed to all member states to consider appropriate funding for COMESA budget to sustain efforts made thus far.
Ms Mwanakatwe also said lack of focussed interventions in the area of industrialisation, while pursuing trade liberalisation agenda had been the weakest link in COMESA’s regional integration process.
European Union (EU) head of delegation to COMESA Alessandro Mariani said EU would continue to support the economic integration based on the region’s priorities and commitment at all levels in member countries responsible for domestication of regional agenda.
Mr Mariani stressed the concept of ownership which was of paramount importance for a sustainable regional economic integration.
“In absence of ownership, the risk is to be confronted with a low level of domestication of decisions taken at the regional level and a low level of sustainability of regional development programmes.
“At best the regional programmes may produce results for their period of implementation but it is unavoidable that little by little their results are eroded in case the programmes are not fully owned and further sustained,” he said.