BY JOHN WERU,NAIROBI,30TH MAY 2017- The European Union has signed two Financing Agreements for a total amount of 68 million Euros to finance implementation of two programmes in countries in the COMESA region.
They are; Trade Facilitation programme (53 million Euros) and Small Scale Cross-Border Trade programme (15 million Euros).
The Ambassador of the European Union to Zambia and Representative to COMESA, H.E. Alessandro Mariani, and COMESA Secretary General, Sindiso Ngwenya, signed the two agreements.
The trade facilitation programme is meant to reduce the cost of doing business and moving goods in the COMESA region. The programme has identified five key priority areas for support, namely; monitoring and resolution of Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs); implementation of the World Trade Organization – Trade Facilitation Agreement; coordinated border management and trade and transport facilitation along selected corridors and border posts.
Others are the implementation of harmonized, science based Sanitary and Phyto-sanitary (SPS) and Technical Standards and support to trade negotiations/promotion covering trade in services, free movement of persons and trade negotiations.
The beneficiaries of the programme will primarily be the Member States of COMESA and the private sector/traders in the COMESA/Tripartite region, with the COMESA Secretariat playing a coordination and facilitation role.
The programme on small-scale cross-border trade aims at increasing the formalization of informal cross-border trade and enhancing trade flows leading to higher incomes for small-scale cross border traders.
This is being done through simplifying the Certificates of Origin, Customs document and addressing harassment of small scale cross border traders at the borders. The programme has identified five key areas of support. These include the implementation of specific trade facilitation rules and instruments at selected border areas, so as to reduce the cost and time for crossing borders by small-scale traders;
The others are the reduction of corruption, bribery and harassment (including gender-based violence) at selected border areas; support to Cross-Border Traders Associations (and similar business associations), so as to effectively defend the interests of traders and deliver good quality support services; data collection/management/dissemination and research on ICBT, so as to increase evidence based knowledge and inform trade policy-making processes at national and regional level; and the building/upgrading of border infrastructures at selected border areas.
The beneficiaries of the programme will be primarily small-scale traders (in particular women traders) regularly crossing borders in the COMESA/tripartite region to sell and buy goods, as well as the associations who represent them and defend their interests.