LUSAKA, Nov. 21 (Xinhua) -- The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the European Union (EU) on Monday signed two financing agreements with a total value of 48.2 million euros (53 million U.S. dollars).
The new grants to COMESA will focus on improving the overall trade competitiveness of COMESA member states and enhancing their market access.
COMESA Secretary-General Chileshe Kapwepwe commended the EU for the financial support, saying the two agreements will play an important role in enhancing overall competitiveness.
Kapwepwe said the support was part of the broader cooperation to enhance economic development, trade facilitation and regional integration within Africa's largest trading bloc.
"Despite the comparative advantage of the region linked mainly to its natural resources and its potential in agro-processing, textiles and garments, trade remains low compared to other regions, with many traded products being of low added value," she said.
She said intra-regional trade was being constrained by inadequate financing toward strategic investments aimed at making the region's private sector competitive.
Karolina Stasiak, the EU's ambassador to Zambia and special representative to COMESA, said the two organizations share similar objectives of facilitating regional integration, connectivity and trade.
Stasiak said in view of global challenges, the EU was calling for making trade fairer and more sustainable.
"We need to green our economies, make local, regional and global value chains more circular, and significantly reduce the negative impact of our economies on climate," she added.