BUUMBA CHIMBULU writes
CANADA has expressed interest in working with COMESA to increase opportunities for international trade.
Canadian Ambassador to Zambia, Pamela O’Donnell, expressed optimism that COMESA and Canada could share best practices, connect entrepreneurs and ideas.
This could result in mutual benefits of increased economic integration.
Specifically, Ms O’Donnell identified gender and trade as one of the priority areas that her country was keen to collaborate with COMESA.
She said this when she presented their Letters of Credence to the COMESA Secretary General, Chileshe Kapwepwe, in a virtually ceremony.
“I cannot speak today without focusing for a moment on our goal of empowering women and girls to become equal participants in an inclusive, prosperous and safe society which is at the heart of Canada’s priorities in Africa,” she said.
Ms O’Donnell stressed the need to create the conditions for women, and for the small- and medium-sized businesses they own and run, to compete and succeed to achieve development goals in the region.
She said public officials and business leaders must work together to advance policies and concrete actions to further women’s participation and recognise the crucial role that women played in business expansion.
Ms O’Donnell, who is also the High Commissioner of Canada to Tanzania, emphasised the importance of engagement opportunities with key stakeholders, such as COMESA, to advance the ideals of inclusiveness and gender equality.
New Heads of Diplomatic Missions of Canada, Germany and France have been accredited as Special Representatives to COMESA.
Ms O’Donnell, Dr Anne Wager-Mitchell of Germany and François Goldblatt of France presented their Letters of Credence to Ms Kapwepwe.
Dr Wager-Mitchell said: “We are ready to support regional integration and to share our own experience to regional organizations around the globe – either bilaterally or through the EU.
“We highly value COMESA’s Small Scale Cross Border Trade Initiative, which is also financially supported by the EU,” she said. “One of the border posts the Initiative focuses on is the Kasumbalesa border post between Zambia and DRC.”
Ms Kapwepwe appreciated the partnership with the EU and Canada, which she said was guided by shared values and common interests.