The Common Market for East and Southern Africa
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, is a free trade area with twenty member states stretching from Libya to Zimbabwe. The Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) has been operating, in one form or another, since 1981. COMESA aims to promote economic integration via the removal of barriers to trade and investment among COMESA member states. Moreover, COMESA aims to advocate for infrastructure development, and development in science and technology. Economic integration is envisaged to progress from the Free Trade Area (FTA) to an economic monetary union. The FTA became operational on 1st November 2000 with nine participating countries initially.
COMESA formed in December 1994, replacing a Preferential Trade Area which had existed since 1981. Nine of the member states formed a free trade area in 2000 (Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe), with Rwanda and Burundi joining the FTA in 2004 and the Comoros and Libya in 2006.
COMESA is one of the pillars of the African Economic Community.
In 2008, COMESA agreed to an expanded free-trade zone including members of two other African trade blocs, the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
The COMESA FTA is an agreement among members not to apply customs duties or charges on goods traded amongst themselves. The eligible goods for duty-free treatment must meet the agreed upon Rules of Origin. Members also agree to eliminate all non-tariff barriers to trade between them.
A COMSEA Certificate of Origin is required for each consignment of goods and is obtained from the Revenue Authority in respective member countries.