Building capacity to help Africa trade better

Call for papers: COMESA-ACBF Capacity Building in Economic and Trade Policy Analysis and Research Project


Call for papers: COMESA-ACBF Capacity Building in Economic and Trade Policy Analysis and Research Project

Call for papers: COMESA-ACBF Capacity Building in Economic and Trade Policy Analysis and Research Project


The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) was established in 1994 to replace the Preferential Trade Area for Eastern and Southern Africa (PTA) set up in 1981 within the framework of the Organization of the African Unity’s (OAU) Lagos Plan of Action and the First Act of Lagos. The COMESA regional block currently comprises of 19 Member States (Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe).

The vision of COMESA is to be a fully integrated, internationally competitive Regional Economic Community (REC) within which there is economic prosperity and peace as evidenced by high standards of living for its people, and political and social stability and ready for the African Economic Community. COMESA’s Mission is to endeavor to achieve sustainable economic and social progress in all Member States through increased co-operation and integration in all fields of development particularly in trade, customs and monetary affairs, transport, communication and information, technology, industry and energy, gender, agriculture, environment and natural resources.

COMESA successfully established a Free Trade Area (FTA) in October 2000 with the key aim being to facilitate regional integration through zero customs tariffs on goods traded among the member states. The REC also launched a Customs Union in June 2009, which was expected to be operational in 2012 but the period was extended by two years. Moreover, the COMESA envisages to progress to a Common Market in 2017, and full Economic Community by 2025.

Intra-COMESA total trade grew by over 8% in 2013 over 2012 levels, from US$ 19.4 billion in 2012 to US$20.9 billion in 2013. Among the countries contributing to this growth were Swaziland, Madagascar, Congo DR, Zambia, Burundi and Comoros, all with growths in both intra-exports and intra-imports in 2013. The percentage of intra-COMESA trade to total COMESA trade in 2013 stood at 7%.

However, intra-trade is still limited and further efforts are needed to improve market access by eliminating barriers to factor mobility. Meanwhile, outside the region, countries are facing globalization challenges with limited regional competitive advantages. Therefore, while it is necessary to build productive capacity to take advantage of wider market opportunities that come with globalization, it is also imperative to enhance competitiveness by addressing the supply-side (or structural) constraints (such as high cost of infrastructure, limited market information, and limited availability and high cost of finance) and their impact on the cost of doing business. Even so, there are emerging and cross-cutting issues (gender, HIV/AIDS, climate change, peace and security, knowledge building, and partnerships) that act as crucial undergirding without which the broader integration agenda would be disrupted.

The objective for call for papers

There is need to address the low levels of intra-regional trade, and tackle obstacles to trade. The high cost of transport, low levels of industrialization and Non-tariff barriers (costly road user charges, transit related barriers, government policy/regulations, complex documentation, arbitrariness related barriers, SPS and TBT issues, standards and certification barriers, lengthy and costly customs clearance procedures, Rules of Origin, lack of coordination between government institutions, government monopoly in export trade and export subsidies) have been extensively cited in publications as constraints to promote intra-COMESA trade.

This call for papers therefore seeks analytical work and policy research papers to address the low levels of industrialization in COMESA countries and how to increase intra-regional trade.

COMESA therefore calls for papers in the following research areas;

1. Free Trade Area and Custom Union

2. Market potential for COMESA industries

    • Extractive industries and sustainable resource management

    • The blue economy; role of fishing in promoting intra-regional trade for coastal economies

    • Research into the competitiveness of products produced in COMESA Member States

    • How should COMESA Member States enter the global value chains and at what level

3. How COMESA should respond to the shifting geopolitics and to the emerging economies

4. Global preferences for Africa and their effect on intra-regional trade

    • Research on market conditions for entering the EU and other markets

    • The impact that trade preferences from the developed countries have on intra-African trade Non-Tariff Barriers in the region and the need for regional standards

6. Trade Facilitation

    • Potential benefits of the Trade Facilitation Agreement for COMESA Member States

    • Role of infrastructure (all modes of transport, ICT and all forms of energy) on promoting intra-regional trade flows

    • Immigration restrictions and their impact on trade

    • Implementing the Single Window in COMESA region

7. Role of SMEs and informal cross border trade in promoting intra-regional trade in COMESA

8. Trade in services focusing on the impact of free movement of persons in the region

COMESA now invites researchers to submit full papers under the different research areas. The papers will be reviewed by the Research Committee and authors invited to present the successful papers during the COMESA Research Forum in May 2015.

Peer Review and Publication Time Frame

  • Submission of papers to COMESA Secretariat by March 2015

  • The submitted papers will be peer reviewed in April 2015

  • The successful papers will be presented at the Research Forum in May 2015

  • The presented papers will be published by COMESA in 2015

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