By Musa Ndlangamandla, in Week-End Swazi Observer, 06 June, 2009
His Majesty King Mswati III will on Sunday officially assume the vice presidency of COMESA.
Swaziland benefits close to E200 million per annum exporting goods to the COMESA market; whilst imports from the bloc account for about E25 million.
The King is also expected to invite Heads of State and government attending the COMESA Summit in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, to come to Swaziland for the next meeting next year.
His Majesty assumes the influential position at the height of his successful run as Chairman of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation.
It is his credentials and contribution towards the resolution of the Zimbabwe political challenges and his current role towards the Madagascar question that has given the COMESA countries confidence in His Majesty.
This was confirmed on Friday by Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Lutfo Dlamini.
His Majesty, who is currently in Zimbabwe on a state visit, left Harare for Bulawayo where he will tour places of interest before proceeding to Victoria Falls.
The King will give two speeches during COMESA, one being the country paper, whilst the other being a vote of thanks at the end of the Summit.
The COMESA Customs Union will also be launched during the Summit. The agenda also includes discussions on a Free Trade Area whose primary objective is to boost trade, eradicate poverty and underdevelopment, whilst at the same time ensuring that member states achieve balanced economic development.
Such economic integration is seen as a major step to facilitate seamless trade amongst the countries and open up linkages with the rest of the world.
Some of the major export and import goods that Swaziland could post under the Free Trade Area are listed below. For Export: Soft drink concentrates; sugar; wood pulp; cotton yarn; refrigerators; citrus and canned fruit. For Import: Motor vehicles; machinery; transport equipment; petroleum products; foodstuffs and chemicals.