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COMESA Pushes For DTAs Between Member States

by Lorys Charalambous,, Cyprus

14 February 2012

Earlier this month, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) held a three-day forum in Lusaka which attracted officials from its member states who are involved in negotiating double taxation agreements (DTAs).

A COMESA business survey conducted in 2009/10 revealed an interest in the private sector for the negotiation of DTAs among COMESA countries. Based on the findings of that survey, the COMESA Council of Ministers decided that its Secretariat should assist member states in negotiating and signing DTAs among themselves, with a view to fostering cross border trade and investment in the region.

The forum agreed on a COMESA DTA model agreement to be used as a guide in the negotiating process of DTAs among COMESA countries, and with third party countries.

It was noted that only 26 DTAs have currently been signed among the 19 COMESA countries, while a total of 214 DTAs have been negotiated and signed by COMESA member states with both COMESA and non-COMESA countries. This was said to show that there is an urgent need for COMESA countries to sign more new DTAs among themselves, and consultations were initiated at the forum for just that reason.

In line with the proposed COMESA-East African Community-Southern African Development Community (SADC) tripartite economic area, COMESA has adopted most provisions from the SADC DTA model agreement in order to have commonalities given the fact that eight COMESA countries also have the SADC membership.

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