COMESA on track on eliminating Non-Tariff Barriers,says Malawi trade minister

Malawi’s Trade Minister, John Bande has said COMESA is on the right track as far as eliminating non-tariff trade barriers (NTBs) are concerned.

In an interview on Thursday in Kampala, Uganda Bande said the COMESA region has grown stronger in the past years because of the consolidation of its internal market through the elimination of non-tariff barriers.

“Of all reported NTBs, 72 percent were removed and we continue to streamline our trade facilitation programmes,” he said.

Bande who is the outgoing Chairman for COMESA Council of Ministers, said improved infrastructure development in the region, corridors initiatives, science and technology and innovations programmes have harnessed knowledge and innovations and contributed to the regions competitiveness.

“COMESA has also undertaken capacity building for stakeholders in several member states to assist the business community to better understand and utilize the COMESA rules,” he said.

Minister of Industry & Trade, Malawi, John Bande

According to Bande, COMESA has also been influential in maximizing the usage of ICT in the region.

He said COMESA launched a comprehensive programme to elaborate and implement common market information systems, beginning with the virtual trade facilitation system that assists tracking of cargo and vehicles in real time.

“We have also launched the electronic market exchange system, an online marketing system between COMESA and the rest of the world, which will be the equivalent of successful electronic market systems such as and e-bay,” he said.

On Customs Union which a lot of people has termed as not taking the expected direction, Bande said that a progress is being made now as a number of countries have complied with the requirements of the union.

He therefore urged the member states to scale up efforts for the implementation of customs union which was established in 2009 and was supposed to be completed this year.

“We have extended the period for implementation of the union so that all countries should implement the union so that we can even more visible on the continental and global scene,” he said.

Regarding intellectual property, Bande said that more guidelines had been produced for assisting the formulation of pro-development policies.

He said COMESA is also mapping out the intellectual property assets that member states posses as a contribution to GDP and as critical economic activity that generates wealth and jobs.

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