Despite the incentives of the COMESA agreement, Egyptian exports to COMESA countries in 2015 amounted to just $1.7bn, a small figure compared to the state’s $25bn annual export volume.
Egyptian imports from COMESA countries were reported to be worth $441m.
The figure is also less than the $4bn Egyptian exports to Africa in 2013, according to latest reports from the Ministry of Industry and Foreign Trade on trade with Africa.
Egypt hoped to increase its trade with COMESA countries and double Egyptian exports of agricultural crops to African markets in 2015 after a new free trade agreement adopted in 2015.
A Free Trade Area (FTA) agreement was signed in June between the main three economic blocs in Africa – the COMESA, The East African Community (EAC), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) – to facilitate trade between the member states.
The government expected an increase in the exports value as a result of FTA. The agreement was also expected to increase investment flows in African blocks especially in the areas of infrastructure, transport, and maritime ports sectors.
Tariffs on imports and exports between Egypt and COMESA countries are reduced under the COMESA agreement.
African countries are the main importers of Egypt’s non-crude oil, petroleum gases, iron and steel, as well as engineering products such as televisions, wires, and cables.