COMESA Free trade area boasts of US$3trn GDP

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BUUMBA CHIMBULU writes

@SunZambia

THE Continental Free Trade Area which was recently signed has a combined Gross Domestic Product of more than US$3.4 trillion, says COMESA.

COMESA secretary general, Chileshe Kapwepwe said the agreement covered a market of more than 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP of US$3.4 trillion; all echo more opportunity for investment.

Ms Kapwepwe was speaking in Lusaka at the Anti-Compliance Training for Enterprises.

“The COMESA region carries a large market of the African continent, with a population of more than 520 million consumers and total trade of US£240 billion,” she said.

With such abundance of resources, Ms Kapwepwe said, all investors would be looking at Africa as a trade and investment base.

Ms Kapwepwe however said African countries posed a risk for corporations and investors to invest in their own countries.

“As a result, our global trade remains low, at less than three percent and intra-regional trade at just about 6.7 percent for COMESA,” she said.

Meanwhile, Ms Kapwepwe said corruption could affect the cost of goods, deter local and foreign direct investment and could cause a huge dent in economic growth of not dealt with.

Ms Kapwepwe explained that combating corruption was there a pre-liquisite to enhancing regional integration.

She said the World Economic Forum estimated that corruption increased the cost of doing business by up to 10 per cent and on average.

COMESA’s trade lies at US $250 billion in 2017 with infra-regional trade at 6.7 percent.

“To promote regional integration, we must deal with political and economic effects of corruption, individually as sovereign states and collectively as a region at COMESA level and the rest of the Africa continent,” she said.

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