The European Union has signed €85m in grants to facilitate regional integration through removal of internal trade barriers.
The money is expected to help three main economic blocs the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Corporation (SADC) reduce costs incurred in cross-border trade.
The funding provided under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF), was signed early last week in Lusaka, Zambia and will go on up to 2020.
The new European Union head of delegation and special representative to Comesa, Ambassador Alessandra Mariani during the signing, said: “The EU funds will increase private sector participation in regional and global value chains through improved investmentbusiness climate and enhance competitiveness and productive capacity”.
He added: “The funds will increase private sector participation in regional and global value chains through improved investmentbusiness climate and enhance competitiveness and productive capacity.”
The beneficiaries are the Comesa secretariat and the member states including the private sector which will also be helped to enhance their capacity to deepen regional integration.
Talking about the aantages derived from a solid regional integration as well as the obstacles and difficulties that may be encountered in the process, Mr Mariani said:
“We are more than happy to share with you what has worked and why it has worked in our own analysis from the political and economic point of view as well as from the point of view of citizens to whom the regional integration process has always to remain relevant and beneficial.”
In his remarks, Comesa secretary general Sindiso Ngwenya said the EU remains the leading cooperating partner for the implementation of Comesa’s regional integration agenda.
“With support from the EU, Comesa has recorded key achievements including the expansion of the Comesa Free Trade Area leading to more countries joining the FTA,” he said.
SOURCE: THE EAST AFRICAN