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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 tripartite free trade area (TFTA). (There is some overlap in membership among the current blocs.) This will take some time, as the three have different levels of economic integration.

As of late 2016, the implementation of the TFTA still faced unresolved issues, including tariff offers, rules of origin, trade remedies and dispute settlement.

last update: March 2017
photo: AmarinAfrica/CC BY-SA 4.0

Firm makes history after suing Mauritius in Comesa Court of Justice
Kenyan firms — regardless of their size — can now sue the government in the Common Market for Southern Africa (Comesa) Court of Justice, the highest in the intergovernmental organisation, if its actions break rules of the trading bloc.
Experts support Uganda’s decision to join COMESA FTA
Economic experts have supported the recent decision taken by the government of Uganda to join the COMESA FTA, saying it would increase the volume of Ugandan exports to the COMESA FTA and promote the country’s economic growth.
Kingdom to host 3rd COMESA meet
Swaziland will next week host the third meeting of the COMESA committee on the Customs Union.
Comesa seeks presence in Middle East
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) has signalled intentions to expand presence in the Middle East to enhance Arab-African trade relations, despite political turmoil in the region.
Comesa developing agro-processing sector strategy
COMESA is developing an agro-processing sector strategy in partnership with the International Trade Centre under the All-African Caribbean Pacific Agricultural Commodities Programme.
China urged to explore investment opportunities in COMESA
Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Secretary-General Sindiso Ngwenya on Tuesday urged China to enter into joint ventures with Africa’s largest regional trading and economic grouping to capitalize on the customs union that was launched last year.
Comesa in plans to increase trade threefold
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) has announced a number of measures to increase intra-regional trade threefold.
Comesa Compensates Country for Losses Resulting From EAC Integration
In a move to compensate revenue losses accrued by Rwanda as a result of having a common external tariff after the adoption of the EAC customs union protocol, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) will disburse €10.3 million (Frw 8.8 billion) through budget support for the fiscal year 2009/10.
Comesa bloc grants $6m to Burundi
Burundi has received euro 4.4 million (US$6.4 million) grant from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) under the adjustment facility.
Comesa summit on Customs Union called off
The proposed regional Customs Union could be in jeopardy following the postponement of a crucial Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa) summit scheduled for next month.