Premier and State Development Minister Colin Barnett and Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion will this week welcome members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) trading bloc to Western Australia.
The visit, timed to coincide with the Africa Down Under mining conference, will cement ties established in January this year when the Premier signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Western Australia and COMESA during a visit to Zambia.
Mr Barnett said the MoU aimed to provide economic opportunities for both Western Australia and the COMESA nations through the sharing of knowledge and technology in the resources and agriculture fields.
A Joint Working Group set up under the MoU will meet on Thursday after an official State breakfast attended by the Premier, Mr Marmion, the Secretary General of COMESA, His Excellency Sindiso Ngwenya, COMESA Ministers and officials, and representatives of the departments of State Development, Mines and Petroleum, and Agriculture and Food.
“Western Australia has a world class system of legislation and regulation governing its mineral and petroleum sectors, and we want to pass on our experience to assist African countries in building resources industries that are profitable, sustainable, safe, and beneficial to their citizens,” Mr Barnett said.
“Under the MoU, Western Australia and COMESA will also seek to collaborate closely on training and capacity building across resources and agriculture.”
Mr Marmion said that COMESA representatives would take part in a busy schedule of meetings and site visits during their time in Perth, while also taking part in Africa Down Under 2014.
“The primary aim of the MoU is to tap into Western Australia’s expertise to help African nations to further develop their mining laws, tenement systems, and environmental and safety standards,” he said.
“This will also bring benefits to the many Western Australian companies with investments in Africa, and help to build trade relationships within the region.”
The 19 member nations of COMESA are Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe
COMESA’s states have a combined population of 389 million, annual imports of about US$32billion and exports of US$82billion
Western Australia’s exports to COMESA countries totalled $207million in 2013
The three-day Africa Down Under Conference 2014 starts on Wednesday, September 3
Last year, the conference attracted more than 2,000 delegates and 160 exhibitors