The Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) was established by a treaty signed on 5 November 1993 in Kampala, Uganda. The agreement was ratified a year later in Lilongwe, Malawi on 8 December 1994. The COMESA treaty builds on an earlier preferential trade agreement and is aimed at creating a common market in Eastern and Southern Africa.

As a trade bloc, COMESA has 19 member countries: Angola, Burundi, Comoros, D.R. Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

In October 2008, the member states of COMESA, the East African Community (EAC, with five members) and the Southern Africa Development Cooperation (SADC, with 14 members) agreed to merge as one giant 26-member free trade area. (There is some overlap in membership among the current blocs.) This will take some time, as the three have different levels of economic integration.

last update: May 2012


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  • 26-May-2014 Govt, COMESA act to boost AGOA exports
    The Zambian government in collaboration with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) has put in place a committee which will look at ways and means of increasing exports to the Africa Growth Opportunity Act market in the United States of America.
  • 25-Apr-2014 Gloom as Kenya fails to meet Comesa rule
    Kenyan sugarcane farmers and consumers face a bleak future, as Government departments tasked with implementing reforms in the sector drag their feet.
  • 25-Apr-2014 ‘COMESA should settle tariff issues on sugar’
    Zambia Sugar Plc has expressed concern at the non-application of tariffs on sugar imported outside the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) as it is displacing regional producers.
  • 10-Feb-2014 Kenya steps up lobbying for sugar safeguards deal
    A technical team from the Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism last week held a meeting with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) Secretariat over the progress of the local sugar industry.
  • 9-Nov-2013 Firm Comesa Trade Laws Needed, Says Veep
    Vice-President Guy Scott has said there is need to put in place a strong legal framework that will promote free and fair trade within the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).
  • 8-Nov-2013 Plea to extend Comesa tariffs
    Former Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi has asked the government to seek an extension of the Comesa safeguards to protect the local sugar industry from excessive imports from the Comesa region.
  • 26-Aug-2013 Kenya bracing for Comesa sugar imports
    Kenya’s sugar sector is in limbo as the COMESA safeguard period nears its end. COMESA is the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa.
  • 16-Jul-2013 Customs regime: Is it vital for Zambia?
    The history of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) began in December 1994, when it was formed to replace the Preferential Trade Area (PTA), which had existed from the earlier days of 1981.
  • 8-Apr-2013 Israel y Colombia, más cerca del TLC
    Comenzará una nueva ronda de negociaciones entre Colombia e Israel para la firma del TLC.
  • 14-Jan-2013 Bank in push for a single monetary unit
    African Development Bank is stepping in to help East and South African region accelerate the push towards a common currency status. To achieve this, it has drafted a stringent set of financial guidelines to steer the process.
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