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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

East Africa: COMESA wants Tanzania out of SADC
With government seemingly in no hurry to entertain the business community advocating for the country to re-join the COMESA trade bloc, the group does not want to let go.
East Africa: Comesa’s transformation into customs union to benefit exporters
The transformation of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) Free Trade Area (FTA) into a Customs Union in the next two years will open up bigger markets for exporters, an industrialist has said.
Comoros, Libya join COMESA free trade area
Comoros and Libya have joined the Free Trade Area (FTA) of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the continent’s largest economic group.
Uganda to join Comesa FTA soon
Uganda will join the Common Market for East and South Africa (Comesa) Free Trade Area within three weeks. Mr Nathan Nabeta, State Minister for Trade disclosed.
Manufacturers bitter with govt over delay in Free Trade deal
Ugandan manufacturers are bitter with the government over its delay to sign the Free Trade Agreement.
Kenya, Sudan solve dispute
Kenya and Sudan have sorted out differences over the compliance of Comesa rules of origin.
COMESA members told to keep eye on globalisation
ZANIS-Vice President Lupando Mwape has advised the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) to take into account the global, regional and local developments in all its endeavours.
New trade pact won’t replace Comesa
The proposed East and South Africa economic block will not replace the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).
Greater Opportunities Revealed for Zambian Exports in Comesa
A comprehensive report on research undertaken by a London-based consultancy firm has revealed tremendous export opportunities for export of Zambian products into selected countries of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Free Trade Area.
Comesa Trade Improves
Trade among Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) member states increased by 15 per cent from US$4.5 billion in 2002 to $5.3 billion in 2003 while trade amongst Free Trade Area (FTA) member states rose from $2.1 billion in 2002 to $2.6 billion in 2003.