The Common Market for East and Southern Africa
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, is a free trade area with twenty member states stretching from Libya to Zimbabwe. The Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) has been operating, in one form or another, since 1981. COMESA aims to promote economic integration via the removal of barriers to trade and investment among COMESA member states. Moreover, COMESA aims to advocate for infrastructure development, and development in science and technology. Economic integration is envisaged to progress from the Free Trade Area (FTA) to an economic monetary union. The FTA became operational on 1st November 2000 with nine participating countries initially.
COMESA formed in December 1994, replacing a Preferential Trade Area which had existed since 1981. Nine of the member states formed a free trade area in 2000 (Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe), with Rwanda and Burundi joining the FTA in 2004 and the Comoros and Libya in 2006.
COMESA is one of the pillars of the African Economic Community.