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"Trade and Industry Minister Nicholas Biwott welcomed the initiative, saying it would go a long way in boosting trading between Comesa member states, other regional bodies and the international community"
Comesa has put in place instruments and specialised institutions to boost trade in the region.
They include the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATIA) - an arrangement meant to mitigate political risks for both imports and exports into the region, and Africa as a whole.
The agency will be funded with a $5 million World Bank start-up loan to encourage private insurers to offer commercial risk insurance.
It will also cover for companies' losses should governments introduce exchange controls that prevent local currencies from being converted into hard currencies or restrictions against their transfer.
The insurance agency's target market will include non-African companies trading with Africa and African exporters, as well as financial service firms operating within these countries.
Opening a two-day workshop in Nairobi, Trade and Industry Minister Nicholas Biwott welcomed the initiative, saying it would go a long way in boosting trading between Comesa member states, other regional bodies and the international community.
Mr Biwott noted in a speech read for him by Assistant Minister Albert Ekirapa, that services would initially cover Burundi, Malawi, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia, before incorporating all the other 53 OAU member states.
Said the minister: "The insurance sector has a regional arrangement with regard to re-insurance business, not only in Comesa, but covering other parts of the continent as well...the Trade and Development Bank (popularly known as PTA Bank) also offers financial services while the commercial banks are working together through the Comesa Bankers Association to constantly improve bank and related financial services."
The workshop is being attended by delegates from 19 Comesa member states drawn from the public and private sector. It is being held as an awareness and capacity building activity by the regional bloc.
Copyright © 2001 The Nation. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media
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