Heads of Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IG AD) have been urged to formalise the introduction of a free trade area in the re g ion which countries like Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Kenya.
The Executive Director of IGAD Engineer Mahboub Maalim said bureaucratic challen ges were inhibiting trade and peaceful coexistence among communities living in b o rder towns within the IGAD region.
Maalim, who spoke at the opening of a Regional Workshop on Integrated Space Tech nology for Monitoring Climate Change on Agricultural Development and Food Securi t y in Africa, said bureaucratic challenges were inhibiting trade and the peaceful co-existence among communities living in border towns.
He blamed overzealous government officials in the Common Market for East and Sou thern Africa (COMESA) for not respecting the treaty that established a free trad e area within the sub-region.
According to him, the treaty was meant to allow for free movement of persons and goods so as to maximize production, adding that the weather and climate do not r espect political boundaries and therefore there was a need for the heads of stat e and government to move fast and avert conflict by allowing the sharing of goods through trade.
A free trade area entails the removal of all internal trade tariffs and barriers , an exercise which is to be completed by 2000.
Within four years after that, COMESA will have introduced a common external tari ff structure to deal with all third party trade and will have considerably simpl i fied all procedures.
The region brings together 21 member states with a population of over 385 millio n and annual import bill of around US$ 32 billion, the introduction of a unified computerised customs network across the region.
Maalim said by the heads of states’ formalising the introduction of the FTA, it could improve the administration of transport and communications to ease the mov e ment of goods, services and people between the countries and create an enabling e nvironment and legal framework which will encourage the growth of the private se c tor, the establishment of a secure investment environment and the adoption of co m mon sets of standards.
He noted that by reducing bureaucratic tendencies, macro-economic and monetary p olicies throughout the region will be harnessed to allow for cross-border trade a mong people living in border towns and in effect causing security challenges as p eople fight over scarce resources, including food and water.