By Fridah Nkibuga
Member states of COMESA trade bloc are trading more with the outside world than among themselves due to numerous trade barriers.
Uganda minister of Animal Industry Mr Bright Rwamirama says in 2011, global-COMESA trade was US $240 billion, while in 2012 it was US $262 billion representing a growth of nine per cent.
During the same period, intra-COMESA trade was US $18.4 billion while in 2012 it was $19.3 billion, representing a growth of only five per cent.
He says this means that COMESA countries are trading more with outside countries than with their neighbours with whom they have a free trade agreement.
He says a number of trade diagnostic studies shows that the cost of complying with technical measures and conformity assessment procedures constitutes a significant proportion of trading costs in the region, occasionally blocking trade and ultimately translating into trade barriers.
“Non-tariff barriers greatly undermine the hard work of traders in industry, private sector and SMEs within the region,” he says.
“Therefore, the removal of sanitary and phyto-sanitary (SPS) non-tariff barriers that are serving no justified purpose is an important priority area under the COMESA market integration pillar of the proposed COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (FTA).”