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COMESA approves action plan and regional guidelines on local content policy

The  implementation of the COMESA Industrial Strategy has officially begun following the approval of an Action Plan and  Regional Guidelines on Local Content Policy

Ministers responsible for industry from the 21 Member States and their representatives adopted the two instruments on Friday during the closure of the 3rd COMESA Ministerial Committee on Industry in Nairobi.

This  paves the way for the implementation of the COMESA Industrial Strategy, which is aimed at supporting structural  transformation of regional economies through sustainable and inclusive industrialisation.

In  their decision, the ministers urged Member States to integrate activities of the Regional Action Plan into their
National Industrial Development Plans for implementation.

Further, they urged Member States to allocate budgets to implement their industrial development plans in synergy with  the  regional activities and in line with the Third Industrial Development Decade for Africa (IDDAIII).

The  two-day meeting was chaired by the Minister of Trade and Industry of Madagascar, Lantosoa Rakotomalala, who is also the chair of the COMESA Council of Ministers.

In  their  final  statement, the  Ministers  directed  the COMESA  Secretariat  to  facilitate  mobilisation  of  financial and  technical resources required for implementation of the Regional Action Plan.

The  COMESA  Industrial  Strategy was adopted by Ministers of Industry in September 2017 who also directed the Secretariat to  develop a well-costed Action Plan with timelines and responsibilities.

At  the  same meeting, the ministers directed the Secretariat to come up with Regional Policy Guidelines on Local Content  as one way of the regional Industrialisation agenda.

The  specific  targets of the COMESA Industrialisation Strategy (2017-2026) are to increase value added products and exports  as a percentage of GDP from the current estimate of 9 percent to 29 percent by 2026, increase the share of manufacturing  to GDP to at least 20 percent by 2026 and increase intra-regional manufactured exports relative to total manufactured  imports to the region from the current 7 percent to 20 percent by 2026

Regarding the Regional Guidelines for Local Content Policy, the minsters noted they will enable the formulation of Local  Content Policies amongst member states in order to maximise local benefits from industrialisation.

They  however, agreed  that  the Regional Guidelines are not binding but was a tool to simply guide Member States when formulating policy, laws and regulations on local content.

When  developing  the  local content  framework, the ministers advised Member States  to  take  into consideration the commitments made under bilateral and multilateral agreements, bilateral investment treaties, and the existing regional and  continental Free Trade Agreements to avoid the breach of those commitments.

The  Secretary General of COMESA, Chileshe  Kapwepwe  thanked the ministers for approving the local content policy and the regional guidelines, which she noted will lead to the development of a vibrant and sustainable industrial  sector that  will ensure equitable benefits to all the people of COMESA Member States.

Yesterday  during  the  official  opening  of  the meeting, Trade and Industrialisation Cabinet Secretary, Peter  Munya said there was need for goodwill and commitment of political leadership, professional, captains of industry and consumers in general in order to reap full benefits of local content.

By  Wangari  Ndirangu

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