LUSAKA, March 6 (Xinhua) -- Tunisia is making preparations to join Africa's largest trading bloc, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the bloc said on Monday.
Tunisia is preparing to sign the COMESA Treaty during the next summit scheduled for October this year, which will herald its admission into the regional bloc as the 20th member, according to a statement released by the secretariat based in Lusaka, the Zambian capital.
According to the statement, Tunisian Prime Minister Youssef Chahed told a COMESA delegation that his country was ready to conclude the negotiations early in readiness for the accession to the COMESA Treaty.
The Tunisian government expressed its readiness and commitment to contribute to the realization of COMESA's objectives once the country was admitted.
A COMESA delegation led by its secretary-general Sindiso Ngwenya is in Tunisia to discuss with the government on the steps towards joining Africa's largest trading bloc.
The delegation held talks with the Tunisian government on the activities needed to be undertaken as part of the preparations to accede to the COMESA treaty, the statement added.
Tunisia first applied for observer status in COMESA in 2005 but the matter was not concluded. The government formally wrote to the regional bloc making inquiries of joining it in February last year.
Currently, Egypt is the only country in north Africa which is a member of COMESA.
Article four of the COMESA treaty provides that the regional bloc may admit a country which is an immediate neighbor of a member state.