Building capacity to help Africa trade better

COMESA Legal Texts and Policy Documents


COMESA Legal Texts and Policy Documents

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COMESA Legal Texts and Policy Documents



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. The PTA was later replaced with the current Treaty Establishing the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), which was signed on 5 November 1993 and ratified on 8 December 1994. The Vision of COMESA is “to have a fully integrated internationally competitive regional economic community with high standards of living for its entire people, ready to merge into the African Economic Community”.

COMESA has adopted a developmental approach to regional integration, which covers market integration, industrialisation and infrastructure development. Its main focus is on the formation of a large economic and trading unit that is capable of overcoming some of the barriers that are faced by individual states. It is expected that in the next planning period (post-2020), COMESA will have introduced a common external tariff structure to deal with all third party trade and will have considerably simplified all procedures.

In line with this objective, COMESA successfully established a Free Trade Area (FTA) on 31 October 2000 among nine member states (Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe) with the key aim being to facilitate regional integration through zero customs tariffs on goods traded among the Members. Rwanda and Burundi (in 2004) and the Comoros and Libya (in 2006) later joined the FTA, and there are currently 16 participating States. COMESA also launched its Customs Union in June 2009 which is yet to be operational. Moreover, COMESA envisages becoming a Common Market by 2017, and full Economic Community by 2025.

There are currently 21 COMESA member states: Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Most recently, Somalia and Tunisia have joined as COMESA members. For more information, visit 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.

  • Treaty establishing the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, 1993 (PDF, 1.12 MB)
  • COMESA Treaty and Its Protocols, November 2013 [French] (PDF, 701 KB)
  • COMESA Treaty as amended, 2009 [Arabic] (PDF, 1.63 MB)

    • COMESA Protocol on Rules of Origin – revised 2021 (PDF, 2.08 MB)
    • Protocol on the Rules of Origin (PDF, 68 KB)
    • COMESA Protocol on Rules of Origin – consolidated text with Annexes, 2015 (PDF, 1.69 MB)
    • Procedures Manual on the Implementation of the Protocol on RoO, 2002 (PDF, 627 KB)

  • COMESA Court of Justice Rules of Procedure, 2016 (PDF, 938 KB)
  • Protocol on the Free Movement of Persons, Labour, Services, Right of Establishment and Residence, 1998 (PDF, 475 KB)
  • Investment Agreement for the COMESA Common Investment Area, 2007 (PDF, 146 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.

  • Council Regulations Governing the COMESA Customs Union, 2009 (PDF, 69 KB)
    • COMESA Customs Union List of Sensitive Products, 2011 (PDF, 603 KB)

  • Common Market Customs Management Regulations, 2009 (PDF, 648 KB)
    • COMESA Common Tariff 2017 version HS Chapters 1-24 (PDF, 2.74 MB)
    • COMESA Common Tariff 2017 version HS Chapters 25-49 (PDF, 4.00 MB)
    • COMESA Common Tariff 2017 version HS Chapters 50-64 (PDF, 2.12 MB)
    • COMESA Common Tariff 2017 version HS Chapters 65-76 (PDF, 1.63 MB)
    • COMESA Common Tariff 2017 version HS Chapters 78-84 (PDF, 2.18 MB)
    • COMESA Common Tariff 2017 version HS Chapters 85-97 (PDF, 3.15 MB)

  • COMESA Regulations on Trade in Services, 2009 (PDF, 1.05 MB)
  • COMESA Public Procurement Regulations, 2009 (PDF, 156 KB)
  • Regulations on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures, 2010 (PDF, 73 KB)
  • Sanitary and Phytosanitary Logical Framework (PDF, 207 KB)
  • COMESA Regulations on Trade Remedy Measures, 2002 (PDF, 459 KB)
  • COMESA Regulations on Trade Remedy Measures, 2002 (French) (PDF, 459 KB)
  • COMESA Competition Regulations, 2004 (PDF, 251 KB)
  • COMESA Merger Assessment Guidelines, 2014 (PDF, 842 KB)
  • COMESA Private Public Partnerships Guidelines, 2014 (PDF, 843 KB)

Regional Policies and Strategies

COMESA focuses its activities on projects and programmes in several areas of cooperation, including Trade, Customs and Monetary Affairs; Industry; Infrastructure, including Information Technology; Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources; Gender and Social Affairs; and Legal and Corporate Affairs, among others.

  • Medium-Term Strategic Plan 2016-2020: In pursuit of Regional Economic Transformation and Development (PDF, 2.01 MB)
  • COMESA Medium-Term Strategic Plan 2016-2020 [French] (PDF, 2.37 MB)
  • COMESA Strategy 2011-2015: Towards an Integrated and Competitive Common Market (PDF, 988 KB)

  • COMESA Gender Manuals: Gender Mainstreaming in COMESA Institutions (PDF, 357 KB)
  • Regional Strategy for Mainstreaming Gender in Agriculture and Climate Change: Strategic Framework, 2011-2015 (PDF, 1.27 MB)
  • COMESA Policy on Intellectual Property Rights, May 2013 (PDF, 163 KB)
  • The Yellow Card Scheme brochure (PDF, 525 KB)
  • Operations Manual Yellow Card Scheme, October 2015 (PDF, 622 KB)
  • COMESA Region Key Economic Infrastructure Projects, September 2013 (PDF, 423 KB)

COMESA Aid for Trade Strategy

COMESA developed the Aid for Trade Strategy following 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 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 development objectives.

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

Meeting documents

Thirty-Fourth Trade and Customs Committee Meeting: 17-18 August 2018

  • Trade in Goods (213 KB)
  • Welfare Status in COMESA 2018 (317 KB)
  • Fifth COMESA Annual Research Forum Report (156 KB)
  • Submission by Mauritius on Change in Tariff Heading for Chapter 63

Fourth Heads of Customs Meeting: 13-14 August 2018

  • Consolidated Draft Paper, July 2018 (210 KB)
  • Annex 1: Draft Regulations for implementation of the COMESA Electronic Certificate of Origin (revised) (134 KB)
  • Annex 2: COMESA Regional AEO Programme Implementation Guideline (first draft) (654 KB)

  • Report of the Validation and Training Workshop on the Targeted Support to the COMESA Secretariat to Enhance its Regional Trade Integration Agenda, April 2018 (177 KB)

Third Meeting of the Trade and Trade Facilitation Sub-Committee: 15-16 July 2018

  • Macroeconomic Developments in COMESA Region in 2017 (174 KB)
  • NTBs in the COMESA Region 2018 (181 KB)
  • Criteria for determining that an Industry is an Infant Industry: Comments by Mauritius
  • TORs for the Sub-Committee on the Kenya Sugar Safeguard (111 KB)
  • WTO Trade Negotiations (76 KB)
  • Implementation of the Regional Payment and Settlement System (176 KB)
  • Progress Report on the Great Lakes Trade Facilitation (101 KB)
  • Update on AfCFTA (62 KB)
  • Update on the TFTA (147 KB)
  • Progress Report on Implementation of WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation (137 KB)
  • Status of ESA-EPA Negotiations (102 KB)

US-COMESA Trade and Investment Framework Agreement

The United States and COMESA signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) on 29 October 2001. The Agreement is aimed at developing and expanding trade in products and services; promoting the adoption of appropriate measures to encourage and facilitate trade in goods and services; and securing favorable conditions for long-term investment, development and diversification of trade. A Council on Trade and Investment was established to consult on specific trade- and investment-related issues of special interest to the Parties.

  • US-COMESA Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, 2001 (PDF, 40 KB)
  • US-COMESA TIFA, 2001 [French] (PDF, 15 KB)
  • US-COMESA TIFA, 2001 [Portuguese] (PDF, 15 KB)


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