Zambia: Tripartite Fta on course

By Nawa Mutumweno – The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Eastern African Community (EAC0 and Southern African Development Community (SADC) are working on harmonizing programmes in key areas.

These encompass rules of origin; services; intellectual property rights, dispute settlement, climate change, trade remedies; and standards.

This is according to COMESA secretary general Sindiso Ngwenya who was speaking when he opened the second COMESA-EA-SADC tripartite technical meeting on standards, metrology, accreditation and conformity assessment in Lusaka on Tuesday, October 25, 2011.

During the second summit held in Johannesburg, South Africa recently on deepening the tripartite integration, Mr Ngwenya pointed out that one of the key outcomes was to adopt a development approach to the tripartite integration process which will be anchored on three pillars: – market integration, infrastructure development and industrial development.

The tripartite process is divided into two phases that will cover the negotiations on trade in goods and movement of persons while the second stage will look at services and trade related issues.

The rise in trade agreements, increased technological change, demand for standards and change in world trading patterns is putting pressure on countries that are determined to reap from regional integration and the world economy.

“While you develop work programmes and cooperation models in respective areas of standards harmonization, metrology, accreditation and conformity assessment, it is important to identify the best practices in the region and build on them within agreed road maps,” he explained.

Earlier, Zambia Association of Manufacturers (ZAM) president Chnace Kabaghe said the business community seeks a pragmatic solution for quality infrastructure in the region if the tripartite FTA is to succeed.

And COMESA has called for a review of the final draft on the tripartite FTA standards to enhance the region’s productivity and competitiveness. Once completed, the document will be channeled to relevant policy organs of the regional economic communities and the tripartite Council of Ministers for approval as a tripartite document.