VICTORIA, Mahe – The Seychelles delegation at the 28th COMESA Council of Ministers Meeting, in Swaziland this week, has highlighted the need for regional economic communities such as COMESA to strengthen and promote the development of maritime links and exchanges to complement the infrastructural development also being undertaken on the continent.
In his intervention at the council meeting, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Jean-Paul Adam, has stressed that the goal of regional integration can only be successful if all areas of the trading chain can be developed and if appropriate investment in infrastructure is secured. In addition, Minister Adam stated that that there is a need for the preservation of the current legal trading arrangements that Seychelles benefits from, by being part of the COMESA FTA, while COMESA undergoes further economic integration.
The Minister went on to add that as COMESA is comprised of a heterogeneous group of states with different specificities (land-locked states, coastal states, LDCs, island states), it is important that the strengths of each state be recognized and promoted as part of regional projects. He also highlighted the challenges to trade that exist in the maritime sector, notably the relatively under-developed trade routes between continental Africa and other regions, as well as security concerns linked to the rise of piracy.
“All COMESA states need to work together to ensure that as a region all states have the opportunity to develop their infrastructure to ensure that the benefits of trade are shared equitably,” the Minister remarked.
The COMESA Council of Ministers is being held in Ezulwini, Swaziland, and was opened yesterday by HE Mr. Barnabas Sibusiso Dlamini, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Swaziland.
The theme of this COMESA meeting has been “Harnessing Science and Technology for Development” to try and empower COMESA states to benefit more from enhanced technological efficiencies. The consideration and promotion of regional projects in the telecommunications sector reflects COMESA’s commitment to promoting technological innovation for development.
The Council of Ministers also addressed ongoing issues relating to the increased integration of the region including the implementation of the Customs Union, adapting rules of origin, public procurement, and investment in the region as a whole.
During the meeting, Seychelles was commended for its incorporation of the COMESA’s procurement regulations and was appointed to sit on the sub-committee on procurement.
The Council of Ministers has also furthered discussions on the project to establish a tripartite Free Trade Area between COMESA, SADC, and the East African Community (EAC).
“Seychelles welcomes the possibility of further enhancing regional trade and development through a much wider and comprehensive Free Trade Area, all the while ensuring that the specificities of individual member states are recognized and that no states are worse off. This is a time of great opportunity for our region amidst the continuing economic uncertainties. We must work together to maximize the potential benefits,” Minister Adam has commented.
The Seychelles delegation to the COMESA intergovernmental Committee and Council of Ministers also comprised of Mr. Ziyaad Ebrahim, Director of Trade for the Ministry of Finance; Mr. Hansel Confiance, Economist with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Mr. Kenneth Racombo, First Secretary with the Seychelles High Commission in Pretoria.
The COMESA Council of Ministers is one of the decision-making bodies that make up the series of COMESA policy organ meetings, which culminate in the COMESA summit to be held next week in Swaziland and which will be attended by Vice President Danny Faure and Minister Adam.