TRALAC - Trade Law Centre

COMESA reportedly unhappy with poor trade with US

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Source: Spyghana

Africa’s main regional trade bloc, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), on Tuesday expressed concerns over its low share of trade with the United States despite the two sides having signed economic development agreements.

The COMESA said it was unfortunate that both of its export and import with the U.S. remain low.

The value of trade between the two sides was relatively low despite the establishment of the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) which gives preferential treatment to U.S. imports of certain African products, the trading bloc’s Secretary-General Sindiso Ngwenya said when the U.S. Ambassador to Zambia Eric Schultz presented his credentials as a special representative to the COMESA.

About 60 percent of the regional bloc’s members are AGOA- eligible countries.

According to Ngwenya, COMESA’s exports to the U.S. accounted for only 1.8 percent in 2013 while imports from the U.S. stood at just 2.2 percent in the same year.

The AGOA provides sub-Saharan African nations to export 6,500 products duty free into the American market, but the COMESA official said many countries failed to exploit the opportunity.

On his part, the U.S. envoy urged countries in the region to encourage the growth of small and medium enterprises to fully exploit opportunities presented by the AGOA.

The COMESA is a trade bloc with a membership of 20 countries stretching from Libya to Swaziland.

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