Mubarak inaugurates COMESA Conference
Egypt, Politics, 2/28/2000
President Hosni Mubarak today inaugurates the first regional economic conference of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), at Cairo International Conference Centre in Nasr City.
In his speech, President Mubarak welcomed the distinguished conferees on the land of Egypt and conveyed to them the greetings of the Egyptian people and best wishes for the success of their conference in promoting the social and economic development process, to achieve prosperity for their peoples.
President Mubarak described the conference as a very important event in the history of the promising grouping of COMESA, and pointed out that Egypt was keen on playing an effective role to prop up the activities of COMESA and to complete the building of its structure.
The President reviewed Egypt's experience in the domain of economic reform and called on the African countries to catch up with the process of globalization and the communications revolution.
However the President urged the African states to work through regional and international forums for curtailing the negative consequences of globalization and making greater use of the positive ones.
President Mubarak said that Egypt took the initiative to call for holding such a conference in order to help in bolstering economic relations as well as increasing the volume of trade exchange among COMESA member states.
He added that today's gathering which precedes the declaration of a free trade zone for COMESA states during the Lusaka Conference in October, shows a collective determination to work for enlarging the volume of trade exchange among COMESA countries.
He expounded that the conference also aims at projecting the huge potentials of COMESA and the opportunities and incentives offered by its member states to African and foreign businessmen and investors.
President Mubarak said that the volume of trade exchange between member states of the COMESA was still modest but pointed out that he was confident that a total cancellation of custom duties on imports and exports together with the establishment of a free trade zone would lead to remarkable increase in the volume of trade exchange.
The President paid tribute to the role being played by the private sector in Egypt and the sector's genuine participation in the economic development process.
He said that Egypt has managed since 1991 to raise the per capita income by 88 percent and that about two thirds of the country's debts were forgiven. The president estimated the country's annual growth rate at 6 percent annually.
Facts about COMESA:
Forty-four foreign, trade, economy, industry and tourism ministers of member and non-member states will take part in "COMESA 2000".
Around 1000 representatives of public, private and banking sectors in Africa, Arab world, the EU, Asian and ten countries and the US will participate in the event.
Twelve workshops will be organized to discuss various issues covering sectors of trade, economy and development.
Round tables will be also held and committees convened. The participants will hold a plenary session on Tuesday winding up the conference.
The COMESA was formed at a recommendation by the Organization of African Unity in April 1980, to achieve economic integration among African countries and set up an African common market in phases by the end of 2000.
The COMESA was formed in 1994 and groups 21 states, namely Egypt, Angola, Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Congo, Eritrea, Madagascar, Malawi, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Mauritius, Comoros and Djibouti, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
Egypt joined the grouping in 1998. The Conference is of special significance as it precedes the Comesa Summit to be held in Lusaka in November 1999.
Egypt will host the coming COMESA Summit in 2001, as President Mubarak will chair the grouping for a two-year term.
The conference aims at getting the international business community acquainted with opportunities available in the COMESA market, encouraging inter-trade between the COMESA member states and seeking to attract foreign investments.
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