Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa--COMESA
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), formed on December 9, 1994 on the basis of the former Preferential Trade Area of Eastern and Southern Africa, has now 21 members. They are Ethiopia, Angola, Burundi, Djibouti, Zimbabwe, Comoros, Kenya, Rwanda, Malawi, Mauritius, Swaziland, Somali, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia, Namibia, Madagascar, Eritrea, Seychelles, Democratic Republic of Congo and Egypt. Its headquarters is in Lusaka, Zambia.
This Common Market has the following institutions: the Summit Meeting, Ministerial Council, Secretariat and the Bank of Trade and Development, Clearing Bank and the Common Market Court.
The Summit Meeting is the highest policy-making organ of this organization, and its current Chairman is Anerood Jugnauth, Prime Minister of Mauritius. The Ministerial Council is charged to handle the administration and planning of the Common Market and responsible for the external relations of the Common Market. The present chairman of the Ministerial Council is Anil Gayan, Foreign Minister of Mauritius. The Secretariat is a permanent organ responsible for day-to-day affairs. The current Secretary General is Mwecha from Kenya.
The purpose and objectives of the Common Market is defined as: to eliminate all the tariff and non-tariff barriers and achieve free circulation of goods and manpower in the Eastern and Southern Africa; to coordinate tariff policies of the member states with a view to reaching a common tariff policy by steps; to strengthen cooperation among the member states in the fields of trade, transport and communication, industry, agriculture, energy, financial and legal affairs; to unify their policy stand regarding external debts and coordinate their economic restructuring programs; to set up monetary union so as to issue a common currency in the end.
Main activities in the recent years: In May 1999, the fourth COMESA Summit Meeting decided to achieve free trade in the region before the end of October 2000 and shape up a customs union in 2004, and to set up a monetary union in 2020. The fifth COMESA Summit Meeting, held in May 2000, decided to start the free trade zone officially on November 1, 2000. For that reason a special Summit Meeting was held on October 31st that same year to announce the official start of a free trade zone in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, with the first batch of 9 participants including Zambia, Egypt, Kenya and Zimbabwe. This marks the first free trade zone set up in the African continent. The sixth COMESA Summit Meeting held in May 2001 stressed that they were planning to establish the customs union in December 2004.
2. Relations between China and COMESA
In April 1999, the China Import and Export Bank signed an export credit agreement with the Trade and Development Bank of Eastern and Southern Africa under COMESA. In May 2000, the People's Bank of China, on behalf of the Chinese government, joined the Trade and Development Bank of Eastern and Southern Africa, becoming the biggest shareholder outside this region, and with a director to participate in the Bank's board of directors.
From Match to April 2001, the Ministerial Council chairman Anil Gayan at the head of a COMESA delegation visited China and discussed with their Chinese counterparts the cooperation in information industry between the two sides.