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Sixteenth COMESA Summit of Heads of State and Government convened in Kampala, Uganda

Sixteenth COMESA Summit of Heads of State and Government convened in Kampala, Uganda ( Seychelles Vice President Danny Faure represented President James Michel at the Sixteenth COMESA Summit of the Heads of State and Government in Kampala, Uganda.

The Summit, which took place from November 23-24, 2012, was held under the theme “Enhancing Intra-COMESA Trade through Micro, Small and Medium Enterprise Development." The Summit acknowledged the important role that Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) play in COMESA economies and their contribution to job and wealth creation. In that respect, it was agreed that member states will work with the COMESA Secretariat to further facilitate trade, infrastructure development, and provide capacity building to benefit the private sector, specifically MSMEs, across the region.

The lack of access to credit was also raised as a matter of concern. Consequently, the PTA Bank and other financial institutions from the different member states were directed to provide access to credit at affordable rates.

In his intervention on peace and security in the COMESA region, Vice President Danny Faure urged the COMESA and the international community to continue with their support towards counter-piracy activities. COMESA's main area of focus in the fight against piracy is through a program called Maritime Security (MASE). This program builds regional capacity to identify the proceeds of piracy through assistance to the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and the Coast Guard.

The Vice President also took the opportunity to emphasize the need to support the newly-elected government and parliament in laying the foundations for establishing long-term sustainable institutions in the country that would ultimately contribute to the economic development and well-being of Somalia. He also commended the new government of the Comoros for bringing back peace, stability and progress during the recent past, and called for COMESA to support socio-economic recovery in this sister island.

Regarding Madagascar, the role of Seychelles in the mediation efforts to bring back peace, reconciliation, and the restoration of constitutional normalcy was acknowledged. The Vice President made a strong plea for the international community to lend their support, including financial assistance, to the electoral process in order to ensure that the elections are held on time and under free and fair conditions.

Other issues discussed were the establishment of the Customs Union, the Tripartite Free Trade Area (FTA), agricultural development, and cooperation with other international partners. The Summit also noted the increase of 8 percent in terms of intra-regional trade and agreed to intensify efforts to remove all barriers affecting trade across the region. As a member of the COMESA FTA, Seychelles does not apply trades tax on imports from countries which are also part of the FTA, and correspondingly, exports from Seychelles are not liable to import taxation from these countries. COMESA has, over the years, supported Seychelles in terms of capacity building and technical assistance in investment, agriculture and trade, and customs areas.

The COMESA Summit is an annual event attended by various Heads of States and governments from the COMESA region and is normally preceded by other COMESA policy organizational meetings. These are the meetings of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, the Council of Ministers, the ESA EPA Council of Ministers and Senior Officials, the Intergovernmental Committee of Experts, and the Administrative and Budgetary Committee. The Vice President was accompanied by Ambassador Barry Faure, Secretary of State in the President's Office, and Ambassador Claude Morel, High Commissioner to the Republic of South Africa and Permanent Representative to COMESA.


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