USAID and COMESA Sign New Agreement to Promote Trade and Development in Eastern and Southern Africa

For Immediate Release

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) signed an amendment recently to the COMESA-USAID Integrated Partnership Assistance Agreement, providing an additional $25 million for development activities in the COMESA region.

USAID and COMESA have partnered to increase regional economic growth, integration, and stability for the region since 1998.  This amendment brings the current agreement (2009 – 2017) to $75 million.  The U.S. Government through USAID directly assists the COMESA secretariat in implementing its regional integration agenda and supports a range of activities:

  • Environment activities are promoting private investment in clean energy in the region;
  • Trade and investment activities support harmonizing trade rules;
  • Good governance initiatives reduce corruption at border posts in conflict-prone areas;
  • Agriculture activities include furthering the continent-wide Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP), ensuring that traded food is safe, and supporting COMESA’s Alliance for Commodity Trade in Eastern and Southern Africa (ACTESA).

Specifically, USAID supports COMESA’s work in conflict prone border areas where they have resolved over 1,600 complaints from cross border traders in the last year, the majority of these coming from women, and provided information on trader’s rights to over 3,200 people.  The COMESA Business Council represents the private sector in discussions on trade policy between member states.  The Business Council is also linking African companies with American markets and vice versa, and are working to facilitate trade by removing non-tariff barriers across the region.

“COMESA is a strategic regional partner for USAID East Africa,” said USAID/East Africa Mission Director Jeffrey Ashley.  “Regional integration and the opening of markets – especially for trade in staple foods – are key to the success of the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future Initiative, of which COMESA is an important partner.”