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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 19 member states, and launched a customs union in 2009.

COMESA countries include:

  • Burundi
  • Comoros
  • D.R. Congo
  • 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 $14.1 billion in total (two ways) goods trade with COMESA countries during 2013. Goods exports totaled $8.4 billion; Imports totaled $5.7 billion. The U.S. goods trade surplus with the COMESA countries was $2.7 billion in 2013.


U.S. goods exports to COMESA in 2013 were $8.4 billion, down 6.0% ($536 million) from 2012.

Roughly 62% of U.S. exports to COMESA went to Egypt in 2013. The top U.S. export markets in COMESA for 2013 were: Egypt ($5.2 billion), Libya ($812 million), Ethiopia ($678 million), Kenya ($651 million), and Djibouti ($170 million).

The top export categories (2-digit HS) in 2013 were: Machinery ($1.2 billion), Aircraft ($1.1 billion), Cereals (wheat) ($714 million), Vehicles ($551 million), and Mineral Fuel (oil) ($549 million).


U.S. goods imports from COMESA totaled $5.7 billion in 2013, a 16.6% decrease ($1.1 billion) from 2012.

Roughly 45% of U.S. imports from COMESA were from Libya. The top U.S. import suppliers from COMESA for 2013 were: Libya ($2.6 billion), Egypt ($1.6 billion) Kenya ($451 million), Mauritius ($338 million), and Ethiopia ($194 million).

The five largest import categories in 2013 were Mineral Fuel and Oil (crude) ($2.7 billion), Woven Apparel ($829 million), Knit Apparel ($564 million), Spices, Tea and Coffee (mostly coffee) ($253 million), and Fertilizers ($172 million).

Trade Balance

The U.S. goods trade surplus with COMESA was $2.7 billion in 2013, up 28.6% ($594 million) from 2012.  


U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) in COMESA countries (stock) was $27.1 billion in 2012 (latest data available).

COMESA countries’ FDI in the United States (stock) was $3.1 billion in 2012 (latest data available), up 14.5% from 2011.

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.

*NOTE: COMESA (19) countries include: Burundi, Comoros, D.R. Congo, Djibouti, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

*NOTE: No services trade data with COMESA countries is available.