Friday, June 5, 2009

Zimbabwe to use comesa as economy catalyst

By KITSEPILE NYATHI, NATION Correspondent - Thursday, June 4 2009

Zimbabwe will look to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa to revive its economy when it takes over the chairmanship of the regional body on Sunday, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said.

The country, which is still emerging from almost a decade of economic and political turmoil, will take over from Kenya exactly a year after the Comesa summit was postponed due to political tension between then leading opposition leader, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe.

Mr Tsvangirai told a Council of Ministers meeting ahead of the Heads of State and government meeting on Sunday that Zimbabwe will seek to take advantage of more regional integration to resuscitate its industries.

“Our countries need deeper levels of integration particularly at this time when the global recession is on the rampage and affecting different countries in different ways,” said Mr Tsvangirai.

“The need for market integration as a way of creating and maintaining bigger markets cannot be over-emphasised.

“If large economies in America and Europe are seeking bigger markets by fostering regional integration, the smaller economies of Africa have an even greater need to come together in a regional and subsequently continental economic market.”

Mr Tsvangirai said the new political dispensation in what used to be one of Africa’s most vibrant economies will ensure that the country played its part in fostering regional integration.

“We in Zimbabwe look forward to playing our part within Comesa and within the region,” he said.

“The formation of the inclusive government provides the foundation to rebuild our economy and COMESA provides a firm framework within which such rebuilding can take place.”

He said Zimbabwe was utilising less than 20 percent of its installed national capacity in all sectors of the economy and will look for opportunities in Comesa to engineer the recovery of the economy.

“The top priority for Zimbabwe will be the opportunities presented to us in the Comesa region because of the favourable trading terms and conditions developed by the organisation over the past decade,” Mr Tsvangirai said.

The Zimbabwe leader said the launch of the Comesa customs union will boost intra- Africa trade, which only accounts for less than five percent of total trade.