COMESA Legal Texts and Policy Documents

COMESA Legal Texts and Policy Documents

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The Agreement for the establishment of the Preferential Trade Area (PTA) for Eastern and Southern Africa was signed on 21 December 1981 and entered into force on 30 September 1982. However, the PTA always envisaged the creation of a Common Market and in line with this vision the Agreement was later replaced with the current Treaty establishing the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). The current agreement was signed on 5 November 1993 and ratified on 8 December 1994.

In line with its objective of achieving deeper economic integration the COMESA Free Trade Area was established on 31 October 2000 when nine member states (Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe) eliminated tariffs on products originating from other member states. Rwanda and Burundi (2004) and the Comoros and Libya (2006) later joined the FTA, while the Seychelles accessed the FTA with a limited list of exemptions, increasing the number of states participating in the COMESA FTA to 14. The COMESA FTA will be transformed into a Customs Union over a period of three years ending 2012 and ultimately a Monetary Union by the year 2025. The current members of COMESA are: Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, D. R. Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. For more information go to the COMESA website.


The Treaty is the constitutive document establishing COMESA and the framework from which all subsequent instruments derive its legitimacy. All Annexes to the Treaty form an integral part of the Treaty.

  • COMESA Treaty (PDF, 430 KB)
  • Protocol on the Rules of Origin for Products to be traded Between the Member States of COMESA (PDF, 68 KB)
  • COMESA Procedures Manual on the Implementation of the Protocol on Rules of Origin (PDF, 628 KB)
  • Investment Agreement for the COMESA Common Investment Area (PDF, 146 KB)
  • Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, Labour, Services, Right of Establishment and Residence (PDF, 476 KB)


Regulations are binding on all the Member States in its entirety. Regulations are published in the Official Gazette of the Common Market and enter into force on the date of their publication or such later date as may by specified in the Regulations.

  • COMESA Regulations on Trade in Services, 2009 (PDF, 1080 KB)
  • COMESA Public Procurement Regulations, 2009 (PDF, 157 KB)
  • Common Market Customs Management Regulations, 2009 (PDF, 649 KB)
  • Council Regulations Governing the COMESA Customs Union, 2009 (PDF, 69 KB)
  • Regulations on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, 2010 (PDF, 74 KB)
  • COMESA Competition Regulations, 2004 (PDF, 252 KB)
  • COMESA Merger Assessment Guidelines, 2014 (PDF, 842 KB)

Regional Policies and Strategies

  • Medium-Term Strategic Plan 2016-2020: In pursuit of Regional Economic Transformation and Development (PDF, 2.01 MB)
  • COMESA Strategy 2011-2015: Towards an Integrated and Competitive Common Market (PDF, 988 KB)
  • Regional Strategy for Mainstreaming Gender in agriculture and climate change: 2011-2015 (PDF, 1.27 MB)
  • COMESA Gender Manuals: Gender Mainstreaming in COMESA Institutions (PDF, 357 KB)
  • COMESA Policy on Intellectual Property Rights, May 2013 (PDF, 163 KB)

COMESA Aid for Trade Strategy

COMESA developed the Aid for Trade Strategy on the background of the adoption of the Aid for Trade (AfT) Initiative at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) which was announced at the Hong Kong WTO Ministerial Meeting in December 2005. The overall objective of the COMESA Aid for Trade Strategy is to contribute to the impact, efficiency and effectiveness of COMESA Member States’ trade reforms and regional integration initiatives so that they can fully benefit from regional and international trade opportunities to reduce poverty and to achieve their MDG development objectives.

  • COMESA Aid for Trade Strategy 2012-2015 (PDF, 576 KB)
  • Regional Integration Support Mechanism (RISM): Rider to the Contribution Agreement, July 2012 (PDF, 77 KB)

While tralac endeavours to list current legal instruments, we cannot accept responsibility or liability for any inaccuracies or omissions. The negotiation, ratification, implementation and/or modification of these instruments is an ongoing process and not always well-reported or updated by the relevant authorities. All documents are in English unless stated otherwise.

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