Tunisia and Somalia have joined the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) following their admission at the 20th Summit of the Heads of State and Government that concluded in Lusaka, Zambia, last week.
The number of members in the trade bloc has now risen to 21.
Tunisia was admitted as the 20th member while Somalia was the 21st member of COMESA after fulfilling the COMESA terms and conditions of accession to the COMESA Treaty.
Tunisia first applied for observer status in COMESA in 2005, but the matter was not concluded. The North African country formally wrote to the Secretary General in February 2016, asking to join the bloc.
Following the admission, the country’s trade minister Amor Behi, said the move will open more opportunities for his country.
“Through this accession, Tunisia will have access to opportunities to market its goods and services in eastern and southern African countries’ markets. Tunisia will also have access to funding sources from funders willing to boost the inter regional integration initiative, ensure the positioning of Tunisian enterprises in the COMESA and mobilise foreign investments,” he said.
Somalia’s Prime Minitser Hassan Ali Khaire also hailed his country’s admission into COMESA, saying he looked forward to enjoying the benefits that it brought.
“We are therefore very proud to be the 21st member of this wonderful organization and we look forward to both enjoy its benefits and contribute to its growth. We bring to the table a population with a great entrepreneurial spirit – where our business community is the backbone of our society,” he said.