Comesa Removes Tariffs

COUNTRIES in the Comesa Customs Union will not charge tariffs on capital goods and raw materials imported from outside the bloc.


Comesa has defined capital goods as those used to produce other goods while a raw material applies to products that have not undergone any form of processing.

Semi-processed goods and finished products will attract duty of 10 and 25% to create a level playing field for manufacturers and producers in the region.

An intermediate product is one requiring further processing before it can be used while a finished product does not need any further processing.  According to a Comesa document, member countries had adopted a Common External Tariff for goods imported from outside the 19-member trade bloc.

Trade on goods produced in member countries is duty-free under the Free Trade Area set up in 2000.
The newsletter said the FTA, while beneficial to members, did not provide a level playing field in agricultural and manufacturing sectors.

“It is not possible to foster and promote regional production of goods in sectors where producers outside the region are more competitive for a variety of reasons. Nearly all economies in Comesa are small with nascent and fairly fragile industries that require nurturing.”

The newsletter said the customs union would protect upcoming companies from competition from bigger and older industries.

It said the union would also facilitate increased regional cross-border trade in goods and services.

“Companies will find it easier to establish and operate in other Comesa countries; companies will easily list on multiple stock exchanges across Comesa, goods will be traded easily and more confidently.”

Comesa believes that the Customs Union will also go some way in reducing poverty in member countries as enhanced production to meet market demand will create wealth directly and indirectly.

Trade between Comesa member countries has risen from US$3 billion in 2000 before the FTA was formed to more than US$15 billion last year.

The trading bloc has a population of 400 million, creating an enormous opportunities for businesses in the member countries. –– comesa.int