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Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA)

Comesa OrbThe Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is the largest regional economic organization in Africa, with 19 member states and a population of about 390 million.

COMESA has a free trade area, with 14 member states, and launched a customs union in 2009.

COMESA countries include:

  • Burundi
  • Comoros
  • Congo
  • Dem Rep.
  • Djibouti
  • Egypt
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Kenya
  • Libya
  • Madagascar
  • Malawi
  • Mauritius
  • Rwanda
  • Seychelles
  • Sudan
  • Swaziland
  • Uganda
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

U.S.-COMESA Trade Facts

The United States has $13.2 billion in total (two ways) goods trade with COMESA countries during 2008. Goods exports totaled $7.8 billion; Imports totaled $5.4 billion. The U.S. goods trade surplus with the COMESA countries was $2.4 billion in 2009.


U.S. goods exports to COMESA in 2009 were $7.8 billion, down 6.4% ($540 million) from 2008.

Roughly 67% of U.S. exports to COMESA went to Egypt in 2009. The top U.S. export markets in COMESA for 2009 were: Egypt ($5.3 billion), Libya ($666 million), Kenya ($654 million), Ethiopia ($276 million), and Djibouti ($197 million)

The top export categories (2-digit HS) in 2009 were: Machinery ($1.2 billion), Aircraft ($1.0 billion), Cereals (corn and wheat) ($796 million), Mineral Fuel (coal) ($524 million), and Vehicles (tanks) ($510 million).


U.S. goods imports from COMESA totaled $5.4 billion in 2009, a 34.6% decrease ($2.9 billion) from 2008.

Roughly 38% of U.S. imports from COMESA were from Egypt (mainly oil). The top U.S. import suppliers from COMESA for 2008 were Egypt ($2.1 billion), Libya ($1.9 billion), Congo, Dem. Rep ($331 million), Kenya ($281 million), and Madagascar ($253 million).

The five largest import categories in 2009 were Mineral Fuel and Oil (crude) ($3.0 billion), Woven Apparel ($772 million), Knit Apparel ($588 million), and Spices, Tea and Coffee (mostly coffee) ($155 million), and Textiles ($102 million).

Trade Balance

The U.S. goods trade surplus with COMESA was $2.4 billion in 2009, up 1,829% ($2.3 billion) from 2008.


U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) in COMESA countries (stock) was $11.4 billion in 2008 (latest data available), down 5.3% from 2007.

COMESA countries FDI in the United States (stock) was $160 million in 2008.


Trade Agreement

The United States and COMESA signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in 2001 and have held six TIFA Council meetings, the most recent of which was held in Lusaka, Zambia in November 2009.

U.S. trade capacity-building assistance to COMESA, delivered mainly through USAID's East Africa regional mission and its East and Central Africa Global Competitiveness Hub in Kenya, has helped COMESA to advance its internal free trade area, to harmonize members' policies in telecommunications, services, and investment, and to increase trade linkages with the United States under AGOA. Fourteen COMESA members are AGOA-eligible, and nine qualify for textile and apparel benefits.