Digital Free Trade Area (DFTA)

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Digital Free Trade Area (DFTA)

Post  Sirop14 on Fri Jan 19, 2018 5:54 pm

Digital Free Trade Area (DFTA)
The Comesa Digital Free Trade Area (DFTA) workshop being held at the Savoy Resort & Spa at Beau Vallon is a unique opportunity to further realise the potential of free trade through Information Communication Technology (ICT) as well as contribute to greater regional integration.
Vice-President Vincent Meriton, who also holds the portfolio responsibility for ICT, said this when he officially opened the two-day workshop being held under the theme ‘Towards Digital Economic Integration’.
A total of 40 delegates from 17 of the 19 Comesa member countries are present, among whom Benjamin Choppy, Seychelles’ principal secretary in the department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT). On the Comesa secretariat side, the workshop was chaired by Francis Mangeni, director for Trade, Customs and Monetary Affairs.
The Comesa Council of Ministers approved the Action Plan for the implementation of a Comesa Digital Free Trade Area (DFTA) in its 36th session. This is part of the organisations’ drive to promote regional integration in the area of trade.
The DFTA initiative is one which aims to make use of ICT to promote and facilitate regional trade.
The main objective of this initiative is to help Comesa traders/SMEs to export their products within Comesa member states and globally with ease in the aim of increasing Comesa exports.
It seeks to provide traders/customers with the necessary digital tools and infrastructure they need for enhancing intra trade among Comesa member states and global trade.
The implementation of the DFTA implies putting into practice concepts of E-Trade, E-Logistics and E-Legislations.
Comesa has also implemented a number of tools related to these. These include; the Electronic Certificate of Origin (eCOR), Comesa Online Markets (CEMES), Comesa Virtual Trade Facilitation (CVTFS specifically transit cargo tracking system), Regional Cargo Transit Guarantee System (RCTG) and the Comesa Yellow Card System (YCMIS).
The workshop, which have both trade and ICT experts sitting together, is to design the concept where member states will work on their country level implementation plan, but with an inclusive and participatory approach of other members.
It is worth noting the concept has already gained the approval of concerned ministries or governments which added certain principles.
“There is no doubt that trade has been critical to the economic development of many countries. In Africa, nations have been transformed and millions lifted out of poverty. But we also know that we can do more to enhance the freedom of economic opportunity and to facilitate greater access to the many untapped markets. And even more to mobilise capital. In short to translate the principles of free trade into economic reality. This is why Seychelles views the Comesa Digital Free Trade Zone initiative with great optimism,” said Mr Meriton.
He said we must therefore commend Comesa for seizing the benefits of ICT, for linking it with trade and for making the countries of our region part of today’s digital economy.
Seychelles, VP Meriton added, is committed to leveraging ICT for enhancing the delivery of public services through its E-Government programme which he said is important in supporting trade.
While the country has a Government Single Window, the E-Service Gateway, through which all available e-services offered by Government can be accessed by a single log-on.
“But while countries progress according to their capabilities, we must ensure that the DFTA process takes into account what Comesa member states already have in terms of ICT solutions and to build on or around these to achieve the DFTA objective,” remarked Mr Meriton.
For his part Mr Mangeni said the DFTA is a new approach which seeks to use information technology in order to promote trade.
“What we hope to see happening is to have an e-platform, e-commerce where anybody who wants to sell their produce can upload photos and information including contacts, descriptions of their products onto this platform which is freely accessible to all people in the region who may wish to buy. So it is the display of your products but online to the equivalence of Amazon, eBay, Google etc…,” said Mr Mangeni, adding the E-Logistics which will also be included will allow traders to transport their products after a sale is done and also to get paid where the e-payment gate will form part of the platform. And legislation laws, e-legislations, for recognition.
Mr Choppy said DICT is responsible for the technical component of the E-platform and that the DFTA implementation already has certain technical instruments already put in place by Comesa.
“We will have to work out how we can use these solutions for ‘interface’ on whether we will adopt them. And in regards to trade DFTA will make it more easy to trade and the e-certificate of origin if implemented will make it more easier on the technical side, and together with our other systems in place, it will facilitate processing,” said Mr Choppy.

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This is he kind of demented world we live in the Seychelles media the Nationl Assembly and this - our publication at SIROP news Africa at work.


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