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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 had a $11.6 billion in total (two ways) goods trade with COMESA countries during 2017. Goods exports totaled $6.3 billion; goods imports totaled $5.4 billion. The U.S. goods trade surplus with COMESA countries was $878 million in 2017.

Exports

U.S. goods exports to COMESA countries in 2017 were $6.3 billion, up 10.7% ($607 million) from 2016, but 12.7% from 2007.

The top 5 U.S. export markets in the COMESA countries for 2017 were: Egypt ($4.0 billion), Ethiopia ($877 million), Kenya ($454 million), Djibouti ($157 million), and Libya ($135 million).

The top export categories (2-digit HS) in 2017 were: aircraft ($1.6 billion), machinery ($710 million), mineral fuels ($572 million), miscellaneous grain, seeds, fruit (soybeans) ($393 million) and electrical machinery ($340 million).

Imports 

U.S. goods imports to COMESA countries in 2017 were $5.4 billion, up 43.2% ($1.6 billion) from 2016, but down 26.3% from 2007.

The top 5 U.S. import suppliers from the COMESA countries for 2017 were: Egypt ($1.6 billion), Libya ($1.4 billion), Madagascar ($743 million), Kenya ($572 million), and Ethiopia ($292 million).

The top import categories (2-digit HS) in 2017 were: mineral fuels ($1.6 billion), woven apparel ($789 million), coffee, tea & spice (mostly coffee) ($744 million), knit apparel ($641 million), and precious metal and stone (diamonds) ($142 million).

Trade Balance

The U.S. goods trade surplus with COMESA countries was $878 million in 2017, down 53.6% ($1.0 billion) over 2016.

Investment

U.S. Reported foreign direct investment (FDI) in COMESA countries (stock) was $31.2 billion in 2016 (latest data available), down 5.9% from 2015.

COMESA countries’ Reported FDI in the United States (stock) was $213 million in 2016 (latest data available), down 30.4% from 2015.

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