Remarks by U.S. Ambassador Daniel L. Foote
Thirty-ninth Meeting of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Intergovernmental Committee
COMESA Secretariat, Lusaka Zambia
November 23, 2018
(as prepared for delivery)
COMESA Secretary General, Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe
COMESA Member State Ministers
Fellow Ambassadors and other Cooperating Partner representatives
It is a pleasure to join you for the opening of this important COMESA conference. The United States’ partnership with COMESA began 20 years ago when we first funded development activities in support of our mutual objectives.
Since then, we have shared one common goal—to bring greater economic and social development to the 500 million people of the COMESA region through closer economic integration among the COMESA member states.
This is my first official meeting with Ms. Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe. I congratulate you as the new Secretary General. I want to assure you of the U.S. government’s continued commitment to supporting COMESA’s progress. We look forward to working with you to achieve our shared goal.
The U.S. government has provided substantial support aimed at eliminating hunger, poverty and food insecurity in Eastern and Southern Africa through greater and more efficient trade in agricultural commodities among COMESA states.
To this end, we have collaborated on many successful food security and economic integration initiatives that have: strengthened regional seed systems; improved animal, plant and food safety systems; and supported private sector linkages.
Harmonized seed regulations, for example, have enabled better access to quality varieties with increased crop resistance and higher yields. USAID support to the COMESA Business Council also helped private companies to better link supply and demand opportunities that have increased trade and regional food security.
While we celebrate progress, we also recognize that there is a long distance to go. Intra-regional trade still accounts for a mere 10% of trade within COMESA states. Increasing this regional trade is essential to spur greater investment and create jobs.
By helping COMESA to tackle the constraints that impede trade and investment, the U.S. Government hopes to play major role in helping COMESA states to achieve greater prosperity and advance on their journeys to self-reliance.