Tunisia set to join COMESA in October
Tunisia is preparing to sign the COMESA Treaty during the next COMESA Summit in October 2017. The signature will herald the admission of Tunisia to the regional economic community as its 20th member State.
Tunisian Prime Minister and Head of Government His Excellency Mr Yousef Achahed told a visiting COMESA delegation that his country was ready to conclude the negotiations early in readiness for the accession to the COMESA Treaty.
The COMESA delegation led by the Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya is in Tunisia this week to discuss with the government the steps towards joining the largest regional bloc in Africa.
The mission is in fulfillment of the decision of the 19th COMESA Heads of State Summit held in Madagascar in October 2016 that mandated the Bureau of the Council of Ministers to enter into negotiations with the Republic of Tunisia on the terms and conditions of accession to the COMESA Treaty.
The bilateral talks focused on the activities to be undertaken by Tunisia as part of the preparations to accede to the COMESA Treaty. The Secretary General briefed the Prime Minister on COMESA and explained that the membership of Tunisia will be a single undertaking;
“What this means is that it will require Tunisia to simultaneously join COMESA financial, technical, semi-autonomous and autonomous institutions,” the SG told the Prime Minister. COMESA has nine institutions, two specialized agencies and a judicial arm all located in different member States.
As part of the preparations for launching the negotiations between the Bureau of Council and Tunisia, the COMESA delegation held separate discussions with Ministers, representatives of unions and private sector. Among them were the Minister of Trade and Industry HE Zeid Ladhari, the Minister of Development Investment and International Cooperation HE Mohamed Fadhel Abdelkefi, Minister of Finance Mrs Lamia Boujnah Zribi and Minister for Communications Technology and Digital Economy. The team also had discussions with the Executive Members of the Tunisian Union of Industries, Trade and Handicrafts.
The Ministers reaffirmed the readiness and commitment of Tunisia to join COMESA as it strongly believes that the future of the country in terms of trade and investment is in Africa
“Our membership in COMESA shall deepen cooperation between Tunisia and other African countries,” the Minister of Finance said adding that the country has done a number of studies on its future potential in trade and investment with other African countries which have indicated a high potential.
The COMESA delegation includes the Director of Trade and Customs Dr Francis Mangeni and Director of Legal Affairs Mr Brian Chigawa.
Tunisia first applied for observer status in COMESA in 2005 but the matter was not concluded. In February, 2016 the country formally wrote to the Secretary General making inquiries on joining COMESA. This set in motion the current process towards its admission. once successfully concluded, Tunisia will become the 20 member of COMESA.
Article 4 of the Treaty provides that the COMESA Authority may admit a country which is an immediate neighbour of a Member States upon fulfilling conditions set forth including acceptance of the COMESA aims and objectives, compliance with the general undertakings and fundamental principles and wishing to co-operate with COMESA
According to the procedure, the application are communicated to the Member States, and then tabled before the Council of Ministers to make appropriate recommendation for the attention of the Authority of the COMESA Heads of State and Governments.
A new member, upon admission, is bound by the provisions of the Treaty and shall within six month thereafter deposit the instruments of acceptance and accession with the Secretary General.