COMESA's Priorities and Objectives
The history of COMESA began in December 1994 when it was formed to replace the former Preferential Trade Area (PTA) which had existed from the earlier days of 1981. COMESA (as defined by its Treaty) was established 'as an organisation of free independent sovereign states which have agreed to co-operate in developing their natural and human resources for the good of all their people' and as such it has a wide-ranging series of objectives which necessarily include in its priorities the promotion of peace and security in the region.
However, due to COMESA's economic history and background its main focus is on the formation of a large economic and trading unit that is capable of overcoming some of the barriers that are faced by individual states..
COMESA's current strategy can thus be summed up in the phrase 'economic prosperity through regional integration'. With its 21 member states , population of over 385 million and annual import bill of around US$32 billion COMESA forms a major market place for both internal and external trading. Its area is impressive on the map of the African Continent and its achievements to date have been significant. (See also our comprehensive statistics)
A Free Trade Area
The COMESA states, in implementing a free trade area , are well on their way to achieving their target of removing all internal trade tariffs and barriers, an exercise which is to be completed by the year 2000. Within 4 years after that COMESA will have introduced a common external tariff structure to deal with all third party trade and will have considerably simplified all procedures.
Other objectives which will be met to assist in the achievement of trade promotion include:
Trade liberalisation and Customs co-operation, including the introduction of a unified computerised Customs network across the region.
Improving the administration of transport and communications to ease the movement of goods services and people between the countries.
Creating an enabling environment and legal framework which will encourage the growth of the private sector, the establishment of a secure investment environment, and the adoption of common sets of standards.
The harmonisation of macro-economic and monetary policies throughout the region.
Several institutions have been created to promote sub-regional co-operation and development. These include:
The COMESA Trade and Development Bank in Nairobi, Kenya
The COMESA Clearing House in Harare, Zimbabwe
The COMESA Association of Commercial Banks in Harare, Zimbabwe
The COMESA Leather Institute in Ethiopia
The COMESA Re-Insurance Company (ZEP-RE) in Nairobi, Kenya
In addition a Court of Justice was also established under the COMESA Treaty and became formally operational in 1998.
Further initiatives exist to promote cross border initiatives, form a common industrial policy and introduce a monetary harmonisation programme.
What COMESA Offers
COMESA offers its members and partners a wide range of benefits which include:
A wider, harmonised and more competitive market
Greater industrial productivity and competitiveness
Increased agricultural production and food security
A more rational exploitation of natural resources
More harmonised monetary, banking and financial policies
More reliable transport and communications infrastructure
Use these web pages or write to us to find out more about all of these.
The Decision making Process
COMESA has evolved a comprehensive decision making structure at the top of which are the Heads of State of the 21 member countries. There is then a Council of Ministers responsible for policy making, 12 technical committees and a series of other advisory bodies (including specific relations with partner countries and thebusiness community). In addition each member state appoints liaison persons in their appropriate ministries who form part of the day-to-day communication process.
Overall co-ordination is achieved through the Secretariat, based in Lusaka, Zambia, who will be happy to deal with all initial communication.