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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

Join FTA, Comesa Urges Member States
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa has urged member states to join the Free Trade Area before the launch of the Customs Union in December to enable the region to fully achieve trade and customs growth.
Comesa can do more for Africa
The just concluded Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) Heads of States Summit in Nairobi seemed to confirm the existence of an uneven playing field in global trade.
Africa’s largest trade bloc in final stages of forming customs union, says official
Africa’s largest trade bloc (COMESA) is in the final stages of setting up a customs union after completing work on tariffs to charge on goods imported from outside the group.
Duty free bloc lifts value of Comesa trade to Sh420bn
Trade among the 19 Comesa member states is currently worth more than Sh420 billion.
Farmers want Comesa order extended
Sugar cane farmers have added their voice to demands that Government seeks an extension of the Comesa moratorium, which comes into effect from early next year. The Kenya Sugarcane Grower’s Union officials petitioned President Kibaki to lead the extension campaign to enable local factories and market get ready to compete with the imports from the region.
Comesa trade tops $7.8 billion as FTA membership reaches 13
Business among Comesa countries has doubled in the past two years, and currently stands at more than $7.8 billion. And the number of countries that have joined the club’s Free Trade Area (FTA) has grown to 13, with others waiting on the sidelines.
Now oil-rich Libya to join Comesa FTA
Libya is to become the second North African country after Egypt to join the Free Trade Area of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa). The implication is that exports from this oil-rich country will now have duty-free access to 13 other Comesa member-states that have so far signed on to the Free Trade Area arrangement.
COMESA, SACU-main vehicles for trade
The Federation of Swaziland Employers and Chamber of Commerce (FSE & CC) has commended the country for its alignment with economic groupings for access to international trade.
Kituyi challenges COMESA on Customs Union
Trade and Industry Minister Dr. Mukhisa Kituyi has asked the COMESA ministerial taskforce to hasten implementation of the regional customs union to achieve the free trading within member-countries.
COMESA urged to speed up integration
Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa - Comesa member countries ought to speed up the process in setting up a unified customs union.