SEATINI-Uganda position paper on the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Treaty implementation Bill.
Trade is an engine of growth that drives the global economy and a catalyst of development in all countries. It is the most regulated sector in the world, where 60% of global treaties, protocols and agreements are trade related. Countries like Uganda have entered into trade agreements and cooperation treaties both at bilateral, multilateral and regional level in a view of ensuring market access for their exports, reduce their trade deficits and subsequently achieving sustainable development. One of such regional cooperation agreements is the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). The COMESA is comprised of 19 member states, a population of over 389 million and annual import bill of around US$32 billion with an export bill of US$82 billion1. Uganda is among the five countries in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern African trading bloc that registered the biggest share of intra export market in 2015. According to Comtrade (2015), Uganda’s COMESA Export market share in 2015 was at 13 per cent with goods worth $835 million (Shs2.8 trillion) exported. The Ministry of Trade indicates that Uganda’s exports to COMESA are mainly coffee, tea and spices2.
In Uganda, a COMESA Treaty (implementation) Bill has been put in place by Parliament of Uganda and is up for discussion by several stakeholders. However, the COMESA treaty contains a number of challenges that include among others liberalization, overlaps, incoherency with national development policies and priorities among others which have to be harmonised. As SEATINI-Uganda, an organization working on trade and fiscal related issues, we hereby make the following observations and recommendations on the COMESA Treaty.