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... [continues]
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