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The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)


The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa - promoting regional economic integration through trade and investment.

With its 19 member states, population of 430 million (2008) and an annual import bill of around US$ 152 billion (2008) and an export bill of over US$ 157 billion (2008), COMESA forms a major market place for both internal and external trading. Its area is impressive on the map of the African Continent covering a geographical area of 12 Million (sq km). Its achievements to date have been significant.


The main objectives of the Common Market :

1. To achieve sustained growth and Sustainable Development in Member States and by encouraging the production and marketing structure of the balanced and harmonious.
2. To promote joint development in all areas of economic activity as well as the joint adoption of macroeconomic policies and programs and to raise the living standards of population and encourage close relations between the Member States.
3. Cooperation in creating a favorable climate for domestic and foreign investment and cross-border.
4. Cooperation in strengthening relations between MERCOSUR and the rest of the world.
5. Cooperation in advancing the process of peace, security and stability between the Member States so as to strengthen the bonds of economic development in the region


Member States

COMESA has a membership of 20 countries, as follows:

Egypt,    Angola,    Burundi,    Comoros,    Democratic Republic of Congo,    Djibouti,     Eritrea,     Ethiopia, Kenya,    Madagascar,     Malawi,      Mauritius,   Namibia,      Rwanda,      Seychelles,      Sudan,   Swaziland,     Uganda,    Zambia,     Zimbabwe


Follow the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa the following institutions:

 Bank of Commerce and Development and the present headquarters of Kenya.

 COMESA Clearing House, based in Zimbabwe.

 Banks Union, the COMESA trade, based in Zimbabwe.

 the COMESA Leather Institute Located on Ethiopia.

 Reinsurance Company of COMESA, based in Kenya


Free goods:

All goods originating from Member States (with a minimum

of 45% of the value added locally )

The impact of the COMESA Agreement


Customs has been canceled completely with effect from 31/10/2000 with the exception of some countries to varying degrees depending on each case has also been clarified and the Member States will establish a customs union by 2004 and establish a monetary union by 2025Resulted in facilitation of transit and to facilitate the movement of goods within the region to reduce costs by 25%




COMESA's Priorities and Objectives

The history of COMESA began in December 1994 when it was formed to replace the former Preferential Trade Area (PTA) which had existed from the earlier days of 1981. COMESA (as defined by its Treaty) was established 'as an organisation of free independent sovereign states which have agreed to co-operate in developing their natural and human resources for the good of all their people' and as such it has a wide-ranging series of objectives which necessarily include in its priorities the promotion of peace and security in the region.

However, due to
COMESA's economic history and background its main focus is on the formation of a large economic and trading unit that is capable of overcoming some of the barriers that are faced by individual states..

COMESA's current strategy can thus be summed up in the phrase 'economic prosperity through regional integration'.

With its 20 member states , population of over 335 million and annual import bill of around US$32 billion COMESA forms a major market place for both internal and external trading.

Its area is impressive on the map of the African Continent and its achievements to date have been significant. (See also our comprehensive statistics)


A Free Trade Area

COMESA states, in implementing a free trade area , are well on their way to achieving their target of removing all internal trade tariffs and barriers, an exercise which is to be completed by the year 2000.

Within 4 years after that COMESA will have introduced a common external tariff structure to deal with all third party trade and will have considerably simplified all procedures.


Trade Promotion

Other objectives which will be met to assist in the achievement of trade promotion include:

Trade liberalisation and Customs co-operation, including the introduction of a unified computerised Customs network across the region.

Improving the administration of transport and communications to ease the movement of goods services and people between the countries.

Creating an enabling environment and legal framework which will encourage the growth of the private sector, the establishment of a secure investment environment, and the adoption of common sets of standards.

The harmonisation of macro-economic and monetary policies throughout the region.

COMESA Institutions

Several institutions have been created to promote sub-regional co-operation and development. These include:
The COMESA Trade and Development Bank in Nairobi, Kenya
The COMESA Clearing House in Harare, Zimbabwe
The COMESA Association of Commercial Banks in Harare, Zimbabwe
The COMESA Leather Institute in Ethiopia
The COMESA Re-Insurance Company (ZEP-RE) in Nairobi, Kenya
In addition a Court of Justice was also established under the COMESA Treaty and became formally operational in 1998.
Further initiatives exist to promote cross border initiatives, form a common industrial policy and introduce a monetary harmonisation programme.


What COMESA Offers

COMESA offers its members and partners a wide range of benefits which include:
A wider, harmonised and more competitive market
Greater industrial productivity and competitiveness
Increased agricultural production and food security
A more rational exploitation of natural resources
More harmonised monetary, banking and financial policies
More reliable transport and communications infrastructure
Use these web pages or write to us to find out more about all of these.


The Decision making Process

COMESA has evolved a comprehensive decision making structure at the top of which are the Heads of State of the 20 member countries.

There is then a Council of Ministers responsible for policy making, 12 technical committees and a series of other advisory bodies (including specific relations with partner countries and thebusiness community).

In addition each member state appoints liaison persons in their appropriate ministries who form part of the day-to-day communication process.

Overall co-ordination is achieved through the Secretariat, based in Lusaka, Zambia, who will be happy to deal with all initial communication.