COMESA, IOM sign cross border trade agreement
COMESA and International Organization for Migration (IOM) have signed a co-delegation Agreement on the implementation of the small scale cross border trade initiative in five border posts within the region.
The programme is part of a broader COMESA-European Union Delegation Agreement of 13.4 million euros signed in May 2018 to implement the COMESA Cross-Border Trade Initiative Programme financed under the 11th European Development Fund.
COMESA, has subsequently Co-delegated some activities to the IOM and the International Trade Centre (ITC) for a total amount of four million euros to ensure effective implementation.
IOM regional Director Charles Kwenin and COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya signed the Agreement in Lusaka, Zambia
Under the Co-delegation Agreement, COMESA entrust the implementation of activities related to border management information system, performance based management schemes for border officials and immigration formalities and procedures for small scale traders to the IOM.
It will also co-delegate capacity building for the Cross-Border Trade Associations and similar associations (including business services and access to finance) to the ITC.
Mr Kwenin said his organization will support COMESA in the implementation of activities which will contribute to achieving the results in this project.
“The partnership between COMESA, IOM and ITC will capitalize the unique experiences and capacities of each organization,” he said. “IOM will draw on its expertise in migration and human mobility issues, while ITC will draw on customs and trade experience, particularly by working on training and capacity issues, He added.”
He stressed that the potential of trade facilitation can only be fully realized by addressing barriers to the human mobility of persons engaging in trade anchored within the three Integrated Border Management/ Coordinated Border Management pillars of inter, intra, and cross-border collaboration.
Mr Ngwenya said the Co-delegation Agreement in line with the Pillar Assessed Grant or Delegation Agreement (PaGoDA) for the Cross-Border Trade Initiative Programme and is also part and parcel of the COMESA regional agenda.
He stressed the importance of implementing the programme while taking into account traditional best practices like social and economic values that favour women, who he described as ‘traditionally good custodians of finances’ in order to build a sustainable programme.
The Secretary General implored IOM and the ITC together with the Secretariat to work towards removal of strict immigration rules and procedures as they perpetuate illegal migrants especially amongst men.
“One of the issue this programmes should implement is the free movement of persons especially small scale cross border traders as this will ease the movement of goods as well. You cannot have goods moving freely when the people carrying them are restricted,” Ngwenya added.
Working in collaboration with the relevant national government authorities in the COMESA region, Ngwenya said IOM together and COMESA Secretariat will ensure successful coordination and implementation of the programme.
Four targeted border posts are between Zambia on one hand and Malawi, Zimbabwe, DR Congo and Tanzania. These are Mwami/Mchinji, Chirundu, Kasumbalesa and Nakonde/Tunduma. The other is Moyale border point between Kenya and Ethiopia.