CAIRO - 21 November 2021: Trade exchange between Egypt and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) comprising 21 countries hit $3 billion in 2020, representing 60 percent of total trade between Egypt and the African continent which is estimated at $5 billion, according to the Cabinet's Information and Decision Support Center on Sunday.
From 2015-2020, Egypt achieved trade surplus in relations with COMESA states that reached in 2020 $1.4 billion , according to a study compiled by the center on the occasion of Egypt's hosting of the 21th COMESA summit on Tuesday.
COMESA is one of promising markets for Egyptian exports as unexploited export potentials to these countries would reach $1.8 billion by 2025, the study shows.
Egypt's exports to COMESA members Libya, Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia and Tunisia reached $2.3 billion.
Sugar cane or beet sugar and chemically pure sucrose in its solid state come on the top of Egyptian exports to Kenya, Sudan, and Uganda while Egypt’s exports of phosphate, mineral or chemical fertilizers are the commodities with the greatest export potential for Ethiopia, Djibouti, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Burundi.
Egypt's coffee, butter and copper imports from COMESA are declining compared with Egypt's imports of the same commodities from other countries worldwide, the study shows.
China is on the top of Egypt's trade competitors inside COMESA markets with exports reaching $21.4 billion then come South Africa with $7.9-billion exports and Turkey with exports reaching $3.7 billion.
Within this respect, the Egyptian government began carrying out several initiatives and programs to secure more access of Egyptian products to the COMESA market, including the African Continental Free Trade Area that came into effect in January of 2021 and launching a forum on investment promotion agencies in Africa to enhance the private sector's participation in projects in Africa.
The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is a free trade area with 21 member states stretching from Tunisia to Eswatini. COMESA was 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, the Comoros and Libya in 2006, Seychelles in 2009 and Tunisia and Somalia in 2018.
COMESA is one of the pillars of the African Economic Community.
In 2008, COMESA agreed to an expanded free-trade zone including members of two other African trade blocs, the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).