Objectives of COMESA
COMESA was established in 1994 to replace the Preferential Trade Area for Eastern and Southern Africa (PTA), which had been in existence since 1981. The PTA was established within the framework of the OAU's Lagos Plan of Action (LPA) and the Final Act of Lagos (FAL). Both the LPA and the FAL envisaged an evolutionary process in the economic integration of the continent in which regional economic communities would constitute building blocks upon which the creation of an African Economy Community (AEC) would ultimately be erected. The PTA, and hence COMESA, was established to take advantage of a larger market size, to share the region's common heritage and destiny to allow greater social and economic co-operation, with the ultimate objective of creating an economic community. The current members of COMESA are: Angola, Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The aims and objectives of COMESA are defined in the Treaty and its Protocols. In summary, the main objective is to facilitate the removal of all structural and institutional weaknesses of member States, and the promotion of peace; security and stability so as to enable them attain sustained development individually and collectively as a regional bloc. Among other things, COMESA member States have agreed on the need to create and maintain: A full free trade area guaranteeing the free movement of goods and services produced within COMESA and the removal of all tariffs and non-tariff barriers; A Customs Union under which goods and services imported from non-COMESA countries will attract an agreed single tariff in all COMESA states; Free movement of capita and investment supported by the adoption of common investment practices and policies so as to create a more favorable investment climate for the COMESA region; A gradual establishment of a payments union based on the COMESA Clearing House and the eventual establishment of a common monetary union with a common currency; and The adoption of common visa arrangements, including the right of establishment leading eventually to the free movement of bona fide persons. As of now COMESA has achieved some of its objectives. For instance; The FTA was achieved on 31stOctober, 2000 when nine of the member States namely Djibouti, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe eliminated their tariffs on COMESA originating products, in accordance with the tariff reduction schedule adopted in 1992.This followed a trade liberalization program that commenced in 1984 on reduction and eventual elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers to intra- regional trade. Burundi and Rwanda joined the FTA on1stJanuary 2004. These eleven FTA members have not only eliminated customs tariffs but are working on the eventual elimination of quantitative restrictions and other non-tariff barriers A Customs Union maybe defined as a merger of two or more customs territories into a single customs territory, in which customs duties and other measures that restrict trade are eliminated for substantially all trade between the merged territories. The territories, in turn apply the same duties and measures in their trade with third parties. In preparation for a Customs Union the Eleventh Meeting of the Council of Ministers held in Cairo, Egypt adopted a Road Map that outlined programs and activities whose implementation was necessary before the launching of the Union. The launch was achieved in 2008 Other objectives which will be met to assist in the achievement of trade promotion include: Trade liberalization and Customs co-operation, including the introduction of a unified computerized Customs network across the...
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