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4th Comesa Business Forum to be held in Nairobi

May '07
The Fourth Comesa Business Forum held in Nairobi on 18th to 19th welcomed the decision by the Council of Ministers to establish the Customs Union by December 2008 and urged member States to fast-track its implementation by 1st July 2008.

A main feature of the Comesa Customs Union will be a three-band common external tariff (CET) recommended by the Council of Ministers in consultation with all Comesa countries, and adopted by the 12th Summit of the Comesa Authority of Heads of State and Government during its meeting on 22nd to 23rd May.

In its final communiqué the Business Forum strongly recommended the introduction of a COMESA NTBs (non-tariff barriers) penalty to deter member States that are currently blocking regional trade through illegal NTBs. It also called for the development of faster mechanisms for NTBs resolution and harmonization of standards in the region.

The Fourth Comesa Business Forum was organized by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers in partnership with other private sector associations for the Comesa Business Council, and was one of the Comesa Policy Organs meetings that took place in Nairobi from 11th to 23rd May.

The business forum recommended, among others, curbing of illegal cross-border trade, promotion of regional value chains in selected key sectors of high potential such as cotton/textiles, horticulture, leather and leather products, organic production, and trade in services.

The three-band CET structure is a plus for Kenya which is already implementing a similar tariff structure under the EAC Customs Union protocol which came into effect in January 2005. It allows for zero import duty on raw materials while intermediate and finished goods into the region attract 10% and 25% respectively.

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