Press releases

EU, UNIDO, ITC to back COMESA efforts to unlock trade opportunities in the region

5 April 2024
ITC News

(Lusaka) – To bolster productive and trade capabilities within the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and drive regional integration, the European Union is funding a 40 million Euros programme dubbed the Trade, Competitiveness and Market Access Programme (TCMAP)), to be implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and the International Trade Centre (ITC).

The programme aims to increase sustainable intra-African trade and EU-Africa trade. The two UN agencies are conducting a scoping mission from 2 to 6 April, to chart a course to implement the regional initiative.

The goal of the scoping mission is to identify and unlock the potential of value chains critical to the region's economic prosperity, aligned with the COMESA regional integration agenda and the African Continental Free Trade Continental Agreement (AfCFTA).

Consultations and technical workshops with key stakeholders, including representatives of the COMESA Secretariat, COMESA Business Council, COMESA Federation of Women in Business and the European Union are creating a shared understanding of the region's trade dynamics, needs and areas of interventions for the programme.

Victor Djemba, Chief of the Africa Regional Coordination Bureau at UNIDO, said: ‘Africa is the largest recipient of UNIDO’s technical cooperation. UNIDO remains committed and equipped to provide concrete and tangible technical cooperation support to the Member States of COMESA through the regional programme, in collaboration with ITC, COMESA Secretariat, COMESA Business Council and the European Union Delegation to Zambia and COMESA.  It is essential to underscore the importance of collaboration among African institutions, Member States, development partners and the private sector in fostering a renewed dedication to economic and regional integration to fully leverage the benefits of the AfCFTA. In collaboration with ITC, UNIDO stands ready to boost COMESA's intraregional trade and trade with the EU while supporting Africa's inclusive and sustainable industrialization and productive transformation.’

Ludmila Azo, ITC Country Manager and programme coordinator, said: ‘The synergy between ITC and UNIDO in this mission underscores our joint commitment to further supporting COMESA in its regional trade-led sustainable development ambitions. Engaging with our partners in Lusaka to deliver as one, we are laying the groundwork for a future where trade is not just a means of economic activity but a cornerstone of transformative change and sustainable development. Our goal is to ensure the region's trade potential is fully realized, paving the way for inclusive and sustainable growth, including economic and environmental resilience.’

The mission’s findings and recommendations will inform the programme document, which will serve as a roadmap for targeted interventions across the COMESA region to increase sustainable intra-African trade and EU-Africa trade, by enhancing market access for selected value chains, and improving the export competitiveness for small businesses in selected value chains.

TCMAP is a regional programme for the COMESA region, fully funded by the EU under the umbrella Africa Trade and Competitiveness and Market Access programme, which aims to establish regional single windows to advance continental integration. It is being implemented by UNIDO and ITC, in close partnership with the COMESA Secretariat and the COMESA Business Council.


About UNIDO:

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) is the specialized agency of the United Nations that promotes industrial development for poverty reduction, inclusive globalization, and environmental sustainability.


About ITC:

The International Trade Centre 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 United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

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For further information, please contact:

For UNIDO: j.diaz-castillo [at] (j[dot]diaz-castillo[at]unido[dot]org)

For ITC: lazo [at] (lazo[at]intracen[dot]org)