Nevine Gamea - the first woman to assume the position of minister of trade and industry, succeeding Amr Nassar
CAIRO - 21 November 2021: Minister of Trade and Industry Nevine Gamea said Sunday that the New Administrative Capital (NAC) would host on Tuesday the summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) with representatives of the 21-member bloc attending either though practical or virtual presence.
The event will be attended by COMESA Secretary General Chileshe Kapwepwe and heads of other African economic blocs, said Gamea in a joint press conference with Kapwepwe.
The summit will be held under theme "Promoting ability to steadfastness through strategic economic digital integration" to encourage economic digital tools inside COMESA and supporting its member states to deal with the impact of COVID-19.
She added that President Abdel Fattah El Sisi will receive the bloc's presidency from the president of Madagascar and will launch the COMESA 2021-2025 strategy during the event.
Gamea went on to say that Egypt looks forward to making the best use of its second presidency of the COMESA to boost cooperation among the bloc's countries in several fields, especially in light of the State's strategy for brining about economic integration in Africa and overcoming obstacles that might hinder free trade between COMESA member states.
The trade minister asserted that Egypt represents a key economic pillar in the COMESA, where it contributed the lion's share in the Intra-group trade volume in 2020 with a total amount of USD 2.7 billion.
She noted that Egypt's exports to COMESA states reached USD 2 billion in 2020, while the country's imports from the bloc hit USD 700 million.
Gamea pointed out that her ministry developed a plan during Egypt's chairmanship of COMESA, which would focus on strengthening the Egyptian business community's presence in Africa in general and COMESA countries in particular.
This plan also aims to open up new horizons for cooperation with COMESA states in priority sectors, as well as economic sectors with a competitive advantage such as transportation, energy, communications and health, she said.
Gamea stated that her ministry proposed the establishment of a mechanism to review the commercial policies of COMESA countries, as well as sharing Egypt's experience with the bloc member states in the fields of small and medium-sized enterprises, trade in services, infrastructure, agriculture and health.
This mechanism calls for cooperation with the COMESA secretariat and member states to provide funding sources for transport corridors and hubs, foremost of which is the project linking between Lake Victoria and the Mediterranean, the trade minister said.
On her part, the COMESA secretary general said that the summit comes at a time when most of the bloc countries witness economic recession over the coronavirus challenges that encouraged COMESA states to continue working to attain the economic integration, by creating a business climate for the private sector to inject further investments in the sectors of telecommunications, transportation and energy.
She explained that the average economic growth rate of COMESA stood at 5.6% in 2019, noting that the IMF expects this rate would go up to reach 4.3% in 2021 and 6% in 2022, thanks to the positive outlook of the global economic recovery backed by the high rates of coronavirus vaccination and the improvement in global demand.