The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has bemoaned its low share of trade with the United States of America (USA) despite having economic development agreements with that country.
COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya said in LusakaFebruary 24, that his organisation’s exports to the US accounted for only 2.1 percent in 2012 which dropped to 1.8 percent in 2013.
Mr. Ngwenya said during the same period, imports by the COMESA region from the USA were equally low with only 2.4 percent in 2012 and 2.2 percent in 2013 respectively.
He was speaking in LusakaFebruary 24, when USA Ambassador to Zambia Eric Schultz, who is also Special Representative to COMESA, presented credentials to him.
He further noted that in terms of value, trade between COMESA member states and the USA through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) was relatively low despite having 60 percent of the regional groupings members being eligible.
AGOA offers tangible incentives for African countries to continue with efforts to open their economies and build free markets.
Mr. Ngwenya however said sub-Saharan countries were yet to explore trade opportunities for the 6,500 eligible products with the USA especially in agricultural merchandise.
And USA Special Representative to COMESA Eric Schultz said countries in the region should encourage the growth of small and medium enterprises which he said were key in economic growth.
Mr. Schultz said his country’s commitment to the growth of African countries was strong adding that America would certainly work towards renewing AGOA in future.
He said his highest priority was to encourage American investors to set businesses in Zambia.
COMESA is a 19-member regional economic grouping aimed at stepping up development efforts of its member states through cooperation.
The COMESA region has a population of about 390 million people.