Discussed: Why Egypt’s taking over COMESA chair important



Tue, 23 Nov 2021 - 12:17 GMT


Tue, 23 Nov 2021 - 12:17 GMT

Egypt takes over Tuesday the chair of the COMESA - TV Screenshot

Egypt takes over Tuesday the chair of the COMESA - TV Screenshot

CAIRO – 23 November 2021: As Egypt takes over Tuesday the chair of the COMESA, economic experts highlighted the importance of this step on multiple dimensions.


Held at the New Administrative Capital, Egypt hosts the 21st Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Summit, with the participation of representatives of African member states.


The theme is of the summit is “Building Resilience Through Strategic Digital Economic Integration,” and was motivated by the emerging regional and global economic and trade dynamics which have impacted heavily on the COMESA regional integration agenda, such as the COVID-19 Pandemic. It is expected to rally Member States on how to safeguard and advance the COMESA regional integration agenda using digital platforms given the uncertain nature of shocks.


The 21st Summit is conducted in both physical and virtual formats and will be preceded by two policy organs meetings: the 42 Meeting of the Council of Ministers and the 42 Intergovernmental Committee.


Egypt's presidency of the COMESA grouping for the second time after an absence of 20 years.


Support to Africa’s economy


Experts unanimously agreed that Egypt’s chairing of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern African Countries (COMESA) summit “enhances the presence of Egypt's exports in various African countries; in order to achieve financial and economic returns that support development plans and increase economic growth rates.


Member of the Industry Committee of the Businessmen Association Ahmed El-Zayat said - in a statement to the Middle East News Agency - that Egypt is one of the most important economic forces in the COMESA grouping, and its presidency of the group enhances its strategic, historical and economic role in line with Egypt's economic and historical value for African countries.”


El-Zayat stressed that Egypt's presidency of this gigantic economic grouping “will increase the current terms of trade to double its current levels, in addition to being a great opportunity to transfer expertise, especially with Egypt been able to achieve a great economic renaissance through the economic reform program.”


He stressed that Egypt views the African market as the basis of partnership and development, unlike many countries that view Africa as a special market for their products.


Zayat further stressed the importance of increasing the number of flights and workers for the exchange of experiences and rehabilitation within the Egyptian market by Africa. “This encourages many medium-sized partnerships of businessmen who have great ambition to open new markets in African countries,” he added.


In statements to Dostour newspaper, Ramy Zohdy, an expert in the African affairs, said that the timing of the COMESA summit, and that Egypt assumed its presidency, reflects Egypt's leadership in the African scene at all levels, after it has become a focal point in all development efforts in the countries of the continent, and a bridge of trust and communication between Africa and the world.


He added: “Egypt, through its presidency of COMESA, is trying to strengthen and support the efforts of trade and economic cooperation between the countries of the grouping, and it also has ambitious plans to develop mechanisms of work within the grouping, and to develop the level of trade and investment relations, based on great experiences in managing files of joint cooperation and major international agreements.”




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). 


Egypt - COMESA relations


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.



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