COVID-19 to reverse southern Africa's industrial, trade gains: SADC official

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DAR ES SALAAM, May 29 (Xinhua) -- A senior official with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) said on Friday the COVID-19 outbreak will reverse the gains on industrial development and trade that the region has made in the last couple of years.

Stergomena Lawrence Tax, the SADC Executive Secretary, said a socio-economic impact analysis of COVID-19 on the SADC region has shown that the pandemic will heavily impact the SADC region across a number of social and economic sectors.

Speaking at the opening of the SADC Council of Ministers virtual meeting hosted by Tanzania, Tax said the decline in the global economy was projected to lead to decline in commodity prices, increase in debt and significant contraction of the SADC economies in 2020.

"This will reverse the gains on industrial development and trade that the region has made in the last couple of years," Tax told the meeting chaired by Tanzanian Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Palamagamba Kabudi.

She said the 16 member states of the regional bloc were already experiencing disruption of economic activities, including on agricultural production, food security and cross-border trade.

The SADC member states were also experiencing disruptions on tourism, foreign investment flows, macro-economic stability, peace and security caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, said Tax.

"Findings also show that, government expenditures on COVID-19 related activities have increased at a time that most of the member states are facing fiscal challenges," she said.

In view of the findings of the socio-economic impact analysis on SADC economies, Tax said, a number of measures have been recommended for consideration at national and regional levels.

Tanzania is the current chair of the SADC, an inter-governmental organization established in 1992 to further socio-economic cooperation and integration as well as political and security cooperation among 16 southern African countries. Enditem

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