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EU splashes €1.3 billion for COMESA

European Union Ambassador, Alessandro Mariani and the Finish Ambassador Timo Olkkonen (Suomen suurlähetystö Lusaka - Embassy of Finland Lusaka) visited the Minister of Community Development, Emerine Kabanshi, to hand over the letter confirming the participation of Zambia in the EU Social Protection System Programme.

KELVIN CHONGO & ESTHER MSETEKA, Lusaka
THE European Union (EU) has committed €1.3 billion to support regional integration, peace and security, as well as management of natural resources in Eastern, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean region.
EU representative Alessandro Mariani said €85 million of €1.3 billion will be specifically allocated to the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) region to support regional integration.
Mr Mariani was speaking during the COMESA meeting on regional integration in Lusaka yesterday.
He said the union is confident that the resources will be instrumental in accelerating the pace of economic integration and regional co-operation in COMESA member states.
Mr Mariani said at regional level, EU’s partnership with COMESA is focused on the promotion of trade and economic regional integration, including support to small-scale traders.
“This is also to focus on reducing intra-regional trade costs and promoting small and medium-sized enterprise development in the region, while providing institutional capacity support to the COMESA secretariat and its member states,” he said.
Mr Mariani said in Zambia, EU is supporting inclusive and sustainable growth in key economic sectors such as agriculture and energy.
He said if well-managed, economic and regional integration leads to bigger markets, lowers production costs as well as consumer prices and stimulates domestic and foreign investments.
Mr Mariani said integration can also be a building block for broader union into the world trading system.
He, however, said regional integration is not easy, saying that it is a dynamic process which is not deprived of obstacles.
The EU representative also said they are working with the COMESA secretariat and other partners to design new regional trade programmes to help address key trade bottlenecks next year.
“In addition, COMESA member states will  also  be able to benefit from  other components of this  regional package such as €600 million  earmarked for regional infrastructure, €30 million  set aside for marine security and the €25 million  enveloped on migration among others,” he said.

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