The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) is scheduled to launch its Customs Union (CU) in May 2009. Given the policy changes that this will entail at the national level, the involvement of national stakeholders in the process has been a key element. Most countries have involved national stakeholders in the process and several regional consultations, with private sector actors have also been held in the policy formulation phases.
It is important to sustain this exchange throughout the preparation phase and extend it to include different actors of civil society, including Parliamentarians and NGOs, in order to have a smooth implementation of the trade regime. The COMESA trade regime took a critical step forward in the COMESA’s regional integration agenda to create a competitive economic space which is expected to boost trade and investment among the participating countries, as well as with third countries and other regional groups. The CU will make trade agreements with external trading partners such as the EU more effective and will lead to the harmonisation of trade policies.