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COMESA’S FORUM ON RETHINKING TRADE

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MBABANE - The COMESA Secretariat is currently holding its Eighth Annual Research Forum virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions.  

It started yesterday and it would run until this coming Thursday. Eswatini is a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) alongside 20 other African countries. The theme for this year’s forum is, ‘Rethinking Trade and Doing Business in the Wake of COVID-19 Pandemic’. According to information sourced from the COMESA official website, the theme was motivated by the shock triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic which has plunged the global economy into a deep recession.

Decline

According to trade experts, economic disruptions caused by COVID-19 resulted in an unprecedented decline of international trade in 2020. The subdued trade volumes reflect in part, possible shifts in supply chains as firms restore production to reduce vulnerabilities from reliance on foreign producers. For the COMESA region, disruptions in services supply have a broad economic and trade impact due to the sector’s role in providing inputs for other economic activities, including facilitating supply chains and trade in goods. During the forum, selected policy and empirical papers centred around the theme are being presented and discussed. The forum  has specific sub-themes which include Intra-COMESA Trade and COVID-19; Digitalising Trade, Trade Facilitation and COVID-19 pandemic; COVID-19 and Trade in Services in COMESA; Manufacturing, Regional Value Chains and COVID-19 in COMESA; Agricultural Trade, Food Security and COVID-19. The research forum through evidence-based research will enable COMESA to effectively and efficiently respond to emerging global and regional challenges in the wake of COVID-19.

Value

“The research forums have been insightful and added value to the quality of analytical research being carried out. The final papers are published in the COMESA flagship publication ‘Key Issues in Regional Integration’. To date, eight editions have been published and the nineth edition will be out by end of 2021,” said Director of Trade and Customs Dr Christopher Onyango. Launched in 2014, COMESA has been organising annual research forums which bring together the academia,  government officers and the private sector to discuss emerging topical issues in regional integration. This is made possible through call for papers under a contemporary theme which is informed by the COMESA Council of Ministers decisions, the emerging global economic and trade dynamics.

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