Directory of Economic, Commodity and Development Organizations - table of contents


Marche Commun de l'Afrique de l'Est et de l'Afrique Australe
Mercado Comum Para Africa Oriental e Austral


COMESA Centre                                        Postal Add:   P.O. Box 30051
Cairo Road                                           Telephone:    [260](1)22-9726/29
10101 Lusaka                                         Facsimile:    [260](1)22-7318
Zambia                                               Telex:        642709 CEFON

          Secretary-General:          ...   Erastus J.O. MWENCHA

LANGUAGES: English, French, Portuguese


The Treaty establishing the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) was signed in Kampala, Uganda on November 5, 1993 by the Member States of the Preferential Trade Area for Eastern and Southern Africa States (PTA). The COMESA Treaty entered into force on December 8, 1994 upon its ratification by 11 signatory States. The PTA that preceded it was formally dissolved on that date and replaced by COMESA.

The establishment of COMESA was a fulfillment of the requirements of the PTA Treaty, which provided for the transformation of the PTA into a Common Market ten years after the entry into force of
the PTA Treaty. The PTA had been an economic cooperation agreement of Eastern and Southern African States. It was conceived in 1965 at a Conference of Ministers from Eastern and Southern Africa held
in Lusaka, Zambia under the auspices of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). The PTA Treaty came into force on September 20, 1982.

Considerable progress has been made in implementing regional integration in Eastern and Southern Africa, particularly in trade facilitation and institution building. The institutions established include the PTA Trade and Development Bank in Nairobi, Kenya; the COMESA Clearing House in Harare, Zimbabwe (this is currently being restructured); the COMESA Leather and Leather Products Institute in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; the PTA Metallurgical Technology Centre in Harare, Zimbabwe; the COMESA Re-insurance Company in Nairobi, Kenya; the COMESA Court of Justice, temporarily in Lusaka, Zambia; the Eastern and Southern Africa Business Association in Nairobi, Kenya; the COMESA Metallugrical Industries Association in Kampala, Uganda; The Federation of National Association of Women in Business in different COMESA Member States; the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers of Eastern and Southern Africa; the COMESA Bankers Association; and the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) in Nairobi, Kenya.

Accounts of COMESA are denominated in the organization's Unit of Account, which is the "Unit of Account of the Common Market" known as the COMESA Dollar and which replaced the Unit of Account of the PTA (UAPTA). One COMESA Dollar is equal to US$1.

COMESA launched the first African Free Trade Area, on 31 October 2000, with 9 Member States as the participating pionneers. The current priorities are to bring more members into the FTA, to remove non trade barrieers and to prepare for the Common External Tariff by the year 2004.

The objectives of COMESA are: (1) to attain sustainable growth of the Member States by promoting a more balanced and harmonious development of its production and marketing structures; (2) to promote joint development in all fields of economic activity and the joint adoption of macro-economic policies and programs to raise the standard of living of its peoples and to foster closer relations among its Member States; (3) to cooperate in the creation of an enabling environment for foreign, cross-border, and domestic investment and in the joint promotion of research and adaptation of science and technology for development; (4) to cooperate in the promotion of peace, security, and stability among the Member States in order to enhance economic development in the region; (5) to cooperate in strengthening the relations between the Common Market and the rest of the world and in the adoption of common positions in international fora; and (6) to contribute towards the establishment, progress, and the realization of the objectives of the African Economic Community.


20 member countries: Angola, Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


COMESA has the following organs described below in order of hierarchy:

The Authority of the Heads of State and Government is the Supreme Policy Organ of the Common Market. The Authority is responsible for the general policy and direction and control of the performance of the executive functions of the Common Market and the achievement of its aims and objectives. The Authority meets once a year.

The Council of Ministers consists of Ministers of Government designated by each Member State. The Council is responsible for policy recommendations to the Authority, monitoring, reviewing the functioning of the Common Market and its institutions, financial regulation of the Common Market and, generally, supervision of other subordinate organs (except the Court of Justice). The Council meets twice a year.

The Intergovernmental Committee consists of senior government officials such as Permanent or Principal Secretaries as may be designated by each Member State. These officials are of equal ranking but different countries within COMESA have different nameing protocols. The Intergovernmental Committee is responsible for the development of programs and action plans in all fields of cooperation except in the finance and monetary sector. The Committee is responsible for ensuring the monitoring and implementation of the provisions of the Treaty and for making recommendations to the Council.

Technical Committees: in the following areas: Administrative and Budgetary Matters; Agriculture; Finance and Monetary Affairs; Industry; Legal Affairs; Trade and Customs; Transport and Communications; and Peace and Security. The Committee of permanent Representatives (Ambassadors and higher Commissioners) The Technical Committees are responsible for the preparation of comprehensive implementation programs and monitoring their implementation and then making recommendations to the Intergovernmental Committee. Ad hoc Committees are appointed from time to time to deal with specific issues.

The Consultative Committee of the Business Community and the Interest Groups is responsible for providing a link and facilitating dialogue between the business community and other interest groups and other organs of the Common Market.

The Secretariat, headed by the Secretary-General, is the principal administrative organ of the Common Market.

The COMESA Court of Justice ensures the adherence to law in the interpretation and application of the Treaty and is composed of seven Judges, one of them being Judge President. The Court shall have wide jurisdiction to hear references by Member States as well as legal and natural persons, and to give interim and advisory opinions. The judgments of the Court are final and conclusive.

The Committee of Governors of Central Banks is responsible for the development of programs and action plans in the field of finance and monetary cooperation and, in general, for monitoring and ensuring the implementation of the provisions of the Treaty relating to Monetary and Financial Cooperation.


Demand/Supply Survey Reports (by product); COMESA Traders Directory; Lists of Holdings (printed catalogs of trade information and COMESA business and the Official Trade and Investment Journal of COMESA); PTA Trade and Development Strategy; COMESA: New Trade and Development Opportunities; COMESA Annual Report; Doing Business in COMESA; COMESA Journal (quarterly); COMESA Q&A (on different subjects); COMESA Vision and Strategy into the 21st Century. The Free Trade Area of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (published by Ashgate, UK).

UPDATED:  December 2003

Directory of Economic, Commodity and Development Organizations - table of contents