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Comesa seeks to eliminate trade barriers

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At least 95,9% of all the reported non-tariff barriers (NTB)s to regional trade in Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) have been resolved since the introduction of the online system of reporting, monitoring and elimination in 2008.

BY BUSINESS REPORTER

According to a status report presented to the Comesa Intergovernmental committee which concluded its three days meeting on Saturday in Zambia, a total of 171 NTBs have been recorded between Comesa member states on the online system.

Out of these 4,1% constitute outstanding NTBs.

The outstanding NTBs are those affecting trade in freezers and fridges, UHT milk, palm-based cooking oil, soap, wheat flour, bottled soya oil and import licenses and surcharges on various products.

Countries whose bilateral trade has been affected by these NTBs include Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Zambia, Madagascar, Mauritius, Egypt and Rwanda.

Comesa said in an effort to bolster the current initiatives to eliminate the remaining NTBs, it has developed NTB Regulations to provide an efficient mechanism to address these barriers.

According to Comesa, the NTBs regulations have been circulated to member States outlining the steps that concerned parties should go through.

Specifically, the regulations require member States to establish National Focal Points as well as National Monitoring Committee on NTBs.

Comesa, however, said the initial stage was the exchange of information regarding an NTB between the imposing and the recipient member State. If the parties fail to resolve the NTB at this stage, they will engage a facilitator to provide factual information aimed at resolving the matter.

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