The summit will be held under the slogan “Strengthening resilience through strategic digital economic integration” with the aim of encouraging the use of digital economy tools to facilitate doing business within the COMESA grouping and enhancing the resilience of member states to face the negative repercussions of the Corona pandemic on their economies.
COMESA is a joint agreement for the countries of Eastern and Southern Africa. The assembly includes 21 member states: Egypt, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Comoros, Burundi, Eritrea, Djibouti, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eswatini (Swaziland), Malawi, Madagascar, Libya, Seychelles, Rwanda, Mauritius, Tunisia, Sudan, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Uganda.
During the opening session, the Egyptian President announced the launch of the COMESA medium-term strategic action plan for the period 2021-2025.
This plan aims to deepen economic integration, regional integration and development among the grouping countries, in harmony with the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement.
Al-Sisi said that Egypt has developed a vision aimed at deepening business integration among the countries of the region to expand the pace of economic recovery from the Corona pandemic, based on these challenges and in light of the important role played by COMESA as a regional economic grouping that aims to achieve sustainable development for member states.
Features of the Egyptian vision
Al-Sisi said that the Egyptian vision of the COMESA presidency aimed to put forward a number of initiatives to contribute to deepening integration, in a number of economic sectors, in the short and medium term.
He pointed out that Egypt’s vision is that encouraging business – in its comprehensive concept of business, investment and productivity – will contribute significantly to accelerating the pace of recovery.
With regard to regional trade integration and the removal of customs barriers, Sisi said that Egypt firmly believes in the importance of regional and continental integration, and has always sought to develop intra-regional trade, within the framework of this integration, since its accession to COMESA, Egypt has been implementing agreed customs exemptions, within the framework of Free trade area, according to the principle of reciprocity.
He stressed working to remove any obstacles that prevent member states from providing the necessary exemptions in this regard, as he suggested setting up a mechanism for periodically reviewing trade policies of member states. This will contribute to the effective participation of countries in applying customs concessions.
He said that Egypt will pay great attention to promoting continental integration, and work to encourage the signatory countries to the Free Trade Area Agreement for the Three Gatherings. To ratify the agreement to be implemented, and its entry into force.
With regard to industrial integration, he explained that the cooperation of the gathering countries to increase intra-regional trade; It requires increasing productivity and cooperation in the various manufacturing sectors and making use of the resources available to the countries of the region and their competitiveness in increasing industrial production.
The economic expert and head of the Egyptian Forum for Political and Strategic Studies, Rashad Abdo, said in exclusive statements to “Sky News Arabia” that Egypt can offer a lot to African countries during its presidency of the “COMESA” summit, which was established years ago, and we have not noticed positive developments on the ground so far. .
Looking at official data, the average economic growth rate for this group amounted to 5.6 percent during 2019, but this rate witnessed a significant decline during 2020 due to the consequences of the Corona pandemic.
Abdo said that Egypt signed Egypt’s accession to the “COMESA” agreement in 1998, and it was also agreed between the 3 largest African organizations, “COMESA”, the East African Community, and the Southern African Development Community “SADC”, to exchange goods without customs and provide a smooth movement of capital, However, this has not been effectively translated, and therefore the opportunity is available to Egypt, with all its capabilities and influence, to push this matter forward and achieve the aspirations of the African peoples.
He pointed out that Egypt has a golden opportunity to benefit from its presidency of “COMESA”, because this serves Egypt a lot and can double its exports to African countries and provide raw materials and production requirements at a cheaper cost.
He added that this summit is important for Africa and Egypt alike, especially since Cairo is more advanced than the rest of the OIC countries and can provide a helping hand to these countries with expertise, based on the fact that the economy depends on the issue of the exchange of benefits that serve the common economic movement.
African rapprochement policy
For his part, the head of the Egyptian-African Businessmen Association, Yousry El-Sharqawy, said in statements to “Sky News Arabia” that President Sisi’s launch of the medium-term strategic action plan for the period 2021-2025 is very influential because it carries a new diversity of joint Egyptian-African work in a copy Rely on mutual interests and the activation of inter-trade agreements.
Al-Sharqawi added that this version comes to magnify what Egypt started through the policy of rapprochement with African countries and building strong Egyptian-African relations based on cooperation and sustainable development, replacing everything related to terrorism and illegal immigration with development and digital technology, and an active presence of what was agreed upon in previous agreements between countries. Members.
Al-Sharqawi agrees with what Rashad Abdo said that Egypt can double exports to the 21 COMESA countries by 2025, reaching the volume of exports from $3 billion to more than $5 billion by 2025.
According to a study issued by the Egyptian government, the trade exchange between Egypt and COMESA recorded about 3 billion dollars in 2020, which is equivalent to about 60 percent of the total value of Egyptian trade exchange with the African continent during the same year, which recorded 5 billion dollars.
He pointed out that there are challenges facing Egypt at this summit, on top of which are the challenges in transport, roads and infrastructure financing. Therefore, Egypt called on the international community and donor institutions to cooperate with African countries in absorbing violent economic shocks caused by the Corona pandemic and trying to find solutions to solve long-term infrastructure financing. So that Egypt and the countries of the continent can exploit the available opportunities and the existing natural resources and make a qualitative leap in African products.