Tunisia prepares to join Africa’s biggest trading bloc

comesa-summitTunisia is expected to become the 20th member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) during the body’s next summit scheduled to take place in October.

Prime Minister Yousef Chahed said they are preparing to conclude the negotiations which officially began last year. COMESA’s Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya informed the Tunisian Prime Minister that the adhesion to the organization’s treaty will require Tunisia “to simultaneously join COMESA financial, technical, semi-autonomous and autonomous institutions.”

The organization is the continent’s largest trading bloc and has continued to progress since its establishment in 1994. It already boasts a market of more than 490 million people and Tunisia will help it go above the half billion people mark. COMESA’s purpose is to support sustainable economic growth and prosperity through regional integration.

Analysts think that admission to the organization could help Tunisia to continue on its effort to revive its economy and finances. It is unclear however if the parliament will support the government in this direction.

Concerns also remain over article four of the COMESA Treaty which stipulates that the COMESA Authority may admit a country which is an immediate neighbor of a Member State upon fulfilling conditions set forth including acceptance of the COMESA aims and objectives, compliance with the general undertakings and fundamental principles and wishing to co-operate with COMESA.

If the process is successful, Tunisia will become the second North African country to join the regional trade bloc after Egypt.

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