COMESA and ITC to step up collaboration
(Geneva) – The International Trade Centre (ITC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern (COMESA) will step up cooperation with a view to boosting intra-African trade.
ITC Executive Director Arancha González and COMESA Secretary-General Sindiso Ngwenya on 18 February 2015 signed a Memorandum of Understanding to work together on the design and implementation of trade-related technical assistance across the 19-strong trade bloc.
Building on past collaboration, the two organizations pledged to cooperate on areas such as regional integration, trade facilitation improving SME competitiveness and enhancing the trade and investment climate. Particular attention will be placed on promoting product development and value addition in the agricultural and services sectors.
Mr. Ngwenya said that the ITC-COMESA partnership will help develop and create capacity for national and regional initiatives in a bid to boost competitiveness. ‘We intend to use the partnership as a key component to increase the quality of products and improve productivity,’ he said.
Mr. Ngwenya noted that many Africa entrepreneurs do not know how to advertise their products effectively but added that, in most cases, packaging is too poor to have a significant impact on the market. ‘Together, COMESA and ITC will help African entrepreneurs develop creative solutions and innovations that better meet consumers’ expectations and demands,’ he said.
‘Expanding intra-African trade holds the key to growth in African countries,’ said ITC Executive Director Arancha González. ‘Regional Economic Commissions such as COMESA are critical to ensuring coherence between national and regional initiatives and to supporting SMEs in Africa achieve competitiveness. ITC is pleased to strengthen our existing partnership with COMESA and to assist countries to achieve economic growth through trade and SME competitiveness.’
‘ITC’s partnership with COMESA is particularly important for the region’s smaller economies, whose prospects will improve as regional integration creates larger markets and more opportunities for regional value chains,’ Ms. González said.
Another major component of the partnership between COMESA and ITC will be to provide continued support to countries seeking to meet their commitments under the World Trade Organization’s Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA), with special attention to provide guidance to small and medium-sized enterprises, which suffer the most from high trading costs. The implementation of the TFA is expected to provide huge economic benefits to business and governments arising from enhanced regional trade.
In line with both organizations’ goal of providing better opportunities for youth and women in trade, both ITC and COMESA will step up their efforts to strengthen the capacity of trade and investment support institutions and businesswomens’ networks.
Note to the editor:
ITC is the joint agency of the World Trade Organization and the United Nations. ITC assists small and medium-sized enterprises in developing and transition economies to become more competitive in global markets, thereby contributing to sustainable economic development within the frameworks of the Aid-for-Trade agenda and the Millennium Development Goals.