COMESA resolves 95pc of non-tariff barriers

via COMESA resolves 95pc of non-tariff barriers | The Herald December 8, 2015

Business Reporter
A total 95,9 percent of all the reported non-tariff barriers to regional trade in COMESA have been resolved since the introduction of the online system of reporting, monitoring and elimination in 2008.

According to a status report presented to the 35th COMESA Intergovernmental Committee (IC) which concluded its three days meetings in Zambia last Saturday, a total of 171 NTBs have been recorded between COMESA Member States on the online system.

Out of these, only eleven are outstanding representing 4,1 percent of the reported 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.

In an effort to reinforce the current initiatives to eliminate the remaining NTBs, COMESA

has now developed NTB regulations to provide an efficient mechanism to address these barriers.

The regulations which have been circulated to Member States outlines 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.

According to the regulations, the initial stage of resolving the NTB is the exchange of information regarding an NTB between the imposing and 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.

The outcome of these proceeding will be enforced under article 171 of the COMESA Treaty that provides for sanctions.

The new regulations followed a decision of the 33rd COMESA Council of Ministers’ meeting held in Zambia in December 2014 that sought to break the existing stalemate in resolving NTBs.

They are also aimed at enforcing Article 49 (1) of COMESA that calls on Member States to eliminate all existing non-tariff barriers and to refrain from imposing new ones.

The IC which comprises Permanent/Principal Secretaries from COMESA Coordinating Ministries in all Member States called on Government to engage economic operators by educating and building their confidence to enable speedy resolution of arising issues.