COMESA 2023 Summit: Significant Increase in Trade Globally and Within The Region

COMESA Summit 2023 in Lusaka

The 22nd Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Summit was hosted at the Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka, Zambia on 8th June 8 2023.

The theme of this year’s Summit was “Economic Integration for a Thriving COMESA, Anchored on Green Investment, Value Addition and Tourism”.

COMEA’s country leaders discussed key areas including promoting intra-regional trade, addressing climate change, industrialization, value addition, and peace and security.

COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe presented a detailed report on key developments and achievements recorded in the past year in the COMESA region.

She revealed that under trade liberalization, membership to the COMESA Free Trade Area remained at 16 states with four countries at different stages of full liberalization.

She also noted a significant increase in COMESA’s trade globally and within the region above the pre-COVID-19 pandemic levels.

The value of Intra-COMESA total exports increased by 28% from USD 10 billion in 2020 to USD 13 billion in 2021.

Key exports include palm oil, cement, copper ores and concentrates, beet/cane sugar, live animals and petroleum oils.

Among the largest exporting countries in the COMESA region, are Egypt, DR Congo, Tunisia, Seychelles, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Kenya and Zambia.

They registered a combined increase of 41% in exported manufactured products in 2021 compared to 2020.

The leaders of the COMESA member states also discussed the Tripartite Free Trade Area, which requires three more ratifications for the Agreement to come into force.

They urged all Member States that are yet to ratify to do so without further delay.

The leaders also highlighted the need for green investment to power a zero-carbon global industrial order and to pursue socioeconomic development incorporating ecologically sound and environmentally responsible practices.

For his part, Zambia’s President Hakainde Hichilema, who took over the chair of the regional economic bloc from Egypt’s President Fattah El Sisi, emphasized the importance of promoting the free flow of trade and joint investments by exploiting the immense opportunities within the region.

He also highlighted the challenges posed by climate change, the Covid-19 pandemic, and political instability caused by conflict situations.

“We have a mammoth task ahead to take stock of where we are and define growth paths that are resilient to exogenous forces,” he said noting that many of the countries in the region are saddled with a high debt burden, unemployment and economic stagnation.

“It is therefore incumbent upon ourselves to combine our resources to promote trade and investment that will support sustainable growth and create jobs,” he concluded.

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