Let me begin by thanking our Chairperson, President Sassou Nguesso, for the leadership of our organisation and his commitment to regional integration.

Allow me also to congratulate and welcome the new Chairperson of the ECCAS Commission, Ambassador da Piedade Verissimo. I thank you and all the Commissioners for the work done in the last year, even under the constraints of the ongoing pandemic.

The security and stability in our region continue to improve, as reported. Remaining challenges are being addressed through both ECCAS and the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region.

Mr. President, increased stability allows us to implement ambitious joint actions to speed up development. This includes the proposed adoption of preferential tariffs and the elimination of non-tariff barriers within ECCAS, as we operationalize the African Continental Free Trade Area. Rwanda is initiating the process to domesticate these tariffs in our trade laws.

We will continue working with member states to ensure that the ECCAS Commission is fully staffed and resourced, and ready to serve our community.

Mr. President, I once again want to thank you and look forward to today’s discussion. Thank you very much.