President El-Sisi took over the chairmanship of COMESA from the President of Madagascar Andry Rajoelina during the opening session of the summit. Photo courtesy of the Egyptian Presidency.
President El-Sisi took over the chairmanship of COMESA from the President of Madagascar Andry Rajoelina during the opening session of the summit.
In accepting the chairmanship of the 21st COMESA summit, President El-Sisi said: "I extend my sincere thanks to the President of the Republic of Madagascar for his sincere efforts and the tangible achievements that have been made to deepen economic integration among member states."
According to COMESA, the summit is held under the theme: “Building Resilience Through Strategic Digital Economic Integration,” and "aims to rally the 21 member states on how to safeguard and advance the COMESA regional integration agenda using digital platforms to facilitate doing business and enhance their resilience to face the economic repercussions of the Covid-19 pandemic."
El-Sisi said that Egypt will do what it takes during its presidency of the COMESA to build on what has been achieved, with the aim of realising the aspirations of the group's member states.
He expressed his confidence that the 21st summit will introduce constructive recommendations to serve regional economic integration, wishing success for all participating delegations.
Egypt is assuming the presidency of the summit for the first time since 2001.
Zambia hosted the last COMESA summit in Lusaka in 2018.
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) was founded in December 1994 – to replace the Preferential Trade Area (PTA) that had existed since 1981 – as an organisation of free independent sovereign states, which have agreed to cooperate in developing their natural and human resources for the good of all their people.
During the 21st summit, El-Sisi is due to launch the COMESA Medium-Term Strategic Plan 2021-2025, which aims to deepen economic and regional integration, and development among the group countries in line with the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), said Egyptian Presidential Spokesman Bassam Rady.
The summit this year aims to rally the 21 COMESA member states to safeguard and advance their regional integration agenda using digital platforms to facilitate doing business and enhance their resilience in the face of the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to COMESA official website.
COMESA forms a major marketplace for both internal and external trading with 21 member states that have a total population of over 583 million, a total Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $805 billion, and a global export/import trade in goods worth a total of $324 billion.
Egypt is a signatory to several trade agreements among African countries, including the AfCFTA.
The AfCFTA agreement was signed in March 2018 in Rwanda’s Kigali and went into force in January 2021, following months of delays owing to the pandemic.
Thirty-nine states out of the 55 members of the African Union have ratified the AfCFTA agreement with the aim of accelerating intra-African trade and boosting Africa’s trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa’s common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations.
AfCFTA is the biggest trade deal in the world in terms of the number of member countries since the establishment of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in 1994.
The bloc's reach impacts more than 1.2 billion people, with a total GDP of about $3.4 trillion, according to the Egyptian foreign ministry.