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COMESA Reviews Progress On Customs Union

by Lorys Charalambous,, Cyprus

09 August 2011

A third meeting was held this month in Lusaka by the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) to study the progress made towards having a fully implemented Customs Union by June 2012.

The COMESA Customs Union was launched in June 2009, when a three year transition period was provided for to allow member states to implement the migration of national tariff nomenclatures to the common tariff nomenclature, adopt the Customs Union management regulations, and adjust national tariff rates to the customs external tariff.

The meeting principally addressed a mid-term review of the status of those transitional matters so as to ensure implementation of the roadmap towards the full operation of the Customs Union by the middle of next year. Trade experts also addressed the preparations for negotiations on the Tripartite Free Trade Area between COMESA, the East African Community and the Southern African Development Community.

COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya confirmed that significant progress has been made in terms of having a full Customs Union in place. For example, “to date eleven COMESA countries have submitted their tentative lists of sensitive products and the region has agreed on the threshold for sensitive products in the overall COMESA tariff,” he said. “I am positive that the remaining countries are working towards fulfilling their obligations in this regard.”

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