Times of Zambia, 05/12/2008
VICE-PRESIDENT George Kunda has implored economic groupings in the region to speed up trade policy harmonisation in order to improve investment inflows.
Mr Kunda said the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC) should focus on improving investment inflows into the region.
Officiating at Comesa's 25th council of ministers in Lusaka yesterday, Mr Kunda said Africa should attract a lot of investment to stem the risk of being further marginalised in the global economy.
He said the three regional bodies should expedite the development of joint programmes in line with the directives of the Comesa-SADC-EAC tripartite summit for heads of state and government which was held in Uganda in October 2008.
Mr Kunda said the tripartite meeting directed the implementation of various measures that would constitute the roadmap to underpin the establishment of a wider free trade area and legal institutional structures.
He said the region faced many challenges, among them, unemployment and human resource constraints that he said needed concerted efforts to address.
"It is important as we move forward that we ensure that future regional integration programmes complement the initiatives that have so far been implemented at both national and regional levels," he said.
During the same occasion, Comesa secretary-general, Sindiso Ngwenya said the decision to begin the merger of the three bodies and establish a timetable for a regional Free Trade Area (FTA) from Cape to Cairo renewed the hope of citizens in the region.
Mr Ngwenya said a Comesa-SADC-EAC FTA would be the largest political and economic bloc in Africa with US$739 billion gross domestic product and a population of 533 million people.
In his welcoming remarks, council of ministers chairperson, Uhuru Kenyatta said regional groupings in Africa should attain deeper cooperation for the betterment of citizens.
Mr Kenyatta, who is Kenyan Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Trade, thanked Zambia for the hospitality and congratulated President Rupiah Banda on his election victory.