COMESA Member States supported to eliminate NTBs

LUSAKA- Four Member States of COMESA have received capacity building support to their institutional frameworks for elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers [ NTBs ] on Common goods, in compliance with the requisite COMESA Regulations. The regulations define the roles and responsibilities of the NTBs institutions to deliver on the intended objective to eliminate barriers across COMESA region and increase intra-COMESA trade.

Madagascar is the latest Member State to receive training to support the development of a National Strategy for Elimination of Non-Tariff Barriers NTBs. Similar trainings have been conducted in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Malawi while Egypt and Tunisia are the next in line.

The trainings follow an earlier decision by the COMESA Council of Ministers to the COMESA Secretariat to provide technical support to Member States to implement national NTBs elimination programmes which are premised on sound national NTBs elimination strategies. COMESA Regulations for the Elimination of NTBs provide legally constituted tools for reporting, monitoring and addressing NTBs, the institutional arrangements to manage the NTBs elimination process as well as procedures followed to tackle situations that create NTBs.

To ensure sustainability of national NTBs elimination programmes, Member States are continuously exploring effective tools to implement the regulations. This necessitates Member States to provide and where possible, outsource a wide range of necessary resources that include technical and funding support.

On its part, the COMESA Secretariat secured funding under the European Union Fund Program to improve monitoring and resolution of NTBs. This funding covers support to institutionalize National Monitoring Committees (NMCs), development of National Strategies and Implementation plan for the elimination of NTBs and building capacity for NMCs and National Focal Points (NFPs) to resolve NTBs. The support is given to Member States upon request or needs assessment.

Madagascar is among the Member States that requested for support to hold a stakeholder workshop to develop their national strategy for elimination of NTBs.  It is also one of the Member States that have fully constituted their NMC and notified COMESA Secretariat, which is a requirement of the National Trade Facilitation Committee under the World Trade Organisation / Free Trade Area. Such arrangement is intended to ensure sustainability and consistency in reporting for policy decision making and implementation.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Industrialization, Commerce and Consumption, COMESA conducted the workshop on 25 – 29 July 2022. Thirty delegates including NFPs and NMC members representing key national stakeholders in public, private sector and civil society institutions including Regulatory authorities responsible for policy and legal framework governing trade and Trade related matters attended.

Among the key outputs of the training was enabling the established NMC to become a functional national mechanism for identifying, reporting and resolving the existing and new NTBs, monitoring and measuring performance of the Implementation Plan of the National Strategy to eliminate NTBs after development.

Besides, ensuring good understanding of the COMESA NTBs legal and institutional framework the workshop will enable the development of a draft National Strategy and its Implementation Plan to eliminate NTBs including effective utilization and operationalization of the Online and SMS reporting, monitoring and eliminating tools already in place and supported by the COMESA Secretariat.

For sustainability and effective implementation of the Strategy, Madagascar will deploy and mobilise necessary resources for implementation, while the COMESA Secretariat will continue to provide technical support, follow up and monitor its implementation. Ultimately, this will increase intra-COMESA trade.

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