COMESA and the International Trade Center (ITC) have officially launched a Co-delegation agreement for the implementation of the Cross-Border Trade Initiative Programme funded under the European Union Development Fund (EDF 11).

ITC Executive Director Ms. Arancha Gonzalez and COMESA Secretary General (SG) Ms. Chileshe Kapwepwe launched the agreement in Lusaka on the sidelines of the World Export Development Forum (WEDF).

In May this year, COMESA and the European Union signed an Agreement for implementation of the Cross-Border Trade Initiative Programme of EUR13.4 Million.

The programme will be implemented for a four-year period and has five key result areas, two of which have been delegated to the ITC for implementation. These are Result areas 2 and 3 with an allocation of EUR 2.1 million.

Result 2 addresses the extent of corruption, bribery and harassment experienced by small-scale traders while Result Area 3 focuses on capacity re-enforcement for Cross-Border Traders Associations (CBTAs) and similar business associations.

“We are committed to ensuring that we implement our assigned tasks that of reducing the bribery and corrupt activities at border points and also build capacity for the cross-border traders,” Ms. Gonzalez said.

The SG said the cross border programme aims at increasing the formalization of informal cross-border trade and enhancing trade flows leading to higher incomes for small-scale cross border traders.

“The programme will support the construction of border markets, cross border trader’s associations and address the challenges that small-scale traders face at the borders,” she said. “It will also help in collecting trade data pertaining to small scale cross border trade.”

The beneficiaries of the programme are small-scale traders, particularly women traders, who regularly cross the borders in the COMESA-EAC-SADC region to sell and buy goods, as well as the associations which represent them and defend their interests.