Uganda is a founder member of Preferential Trade Area PTA founded in 1982. The Treaty transforming PTA to COMESA was signed in Kampala, Uganda, on 5th November, 1993. Uganda hosted the COMESA Summit in 2004.
COMESA is the one of the largest regional grouping with 19 countries and market of about 400 million consumers. It is currently Uganda’s main export destination with a market share of 58% of Uganda’s exports. Uganda’s total exports to COMESA increased from USD 248.55M in 2005 to USD 712.98 M59% in 2010. The balance of trade improved from USD -315.675M to USD 792.814M in 2009. Foreign Direct inflows from COMESA to Uganda average USD 167.52 M
COMESA’s highest decision making organ is the Summit, which is held annually on rotational basis. The last Summit was held in Lilongwe in Malawi. During that Summit, no country offered to host the Summit.
When the Minister of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives visited COMESA Secretariat, to acquaint herself with the activities of COMESA, the Secretary General conveyed the request of COMESA Chairperson for Uganda to consider hosting the 16th Summit.
During the visit of COMESA Secretary General to Uganda, H.E. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, the President of the Republic of Uganda, graciously accepted to host the Summit in Uganda. By that acceptance, Uganda became the Vice President and a member of the Bureau, with Malawi as precedent and Swaziland as rapporteur.
As member of the Bureau, we are mandated to take some decisions on behalf of the Council, and we held our last Bureau meeting on the sideline of the AU meeting in Addis Ababa in July, 2012.
The 16th COMESA Summit shall, therefore, take place in Speke Resort Beach Munyonyo on 23rd - 24th November, 2012 and the meetings of the other Policy Organs will commence on the 12th of November, 2012 as shown here:
The theme for the 16th COMESA Summit is ‘Promoting Intra-COMESA Trade through MSMEs Development’. This theme emphasizes the importance and the central role that MSMEs play in the economies of COMESA member countries. It is our strong conviction that MSMEs be promoted and encouraged to have access to intra-regional market to improve the livelihood of our people. We shall expect that the Summit should make resolutions that will promote the development of MSMEs in the economic integration process. The Trade Fair, Exhibitions and Bazaars will be focusing on the promotion of MSMEs products.
The COMESA Summit process will undertake the following private sector activities:
i) COMESA Business Forum which is scheduled for 20th to 22nd November, 2012 to dialogue and promote inter-COMESA Trade, Investment, Tourism, Infrastructure and communications. The Kampala Business Forum will be coordinated by the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda.
I, therefore, we wish to encourage Private Sector Associations and stakeholders of Uganda, and that of COMESA member countries, to come for this Forum to enhance business and economic development in our region. This is critical, particularly since in all our member countries, our economy is private sector led.
ii) COMESA TRADE FORUM
As per tradition, Uganda shall host the COMESA Trade Fair from 12th to 25th November, 2012 at Munyonyo. This Trade Fair and Exhibitions will focus on the theme of the Summit which is ‘Promoting MSMEs Enterprise Development’. We shall, therefore, encourage the participation of MSMEs in this Fair and Exhibition. The Private Sector Foundation Uganda is coordinating this event.
iii) COMESA BAZAARS
During this period from 12th to 25th, we propose to host a COMESA Bazaar in a central location in the City outside the Conference Venue, where our traders, and manufactures from the region are able to sell their wares to the delegates and consumers to further enhance intra-COMESA trade. The Private Sector Foundation Uganda is promoting this Bazaar.
FIRST SPOUSES ROUND TABLE
As per COMESA tradition, we recognize the important role the First Spouses play. The First Spouses shall be holding a Roundtable Forum to discuss integration and development in COMESA member Countries. It will be hosted by the First Lady, H.E. Janet K. Museveni, and Minister for Karamoja Affairs.
COMESA Summit meeting offers opportunities for deeper interaction and understanding among the people in the member countries. Uganda, therefore, warmly welcomes all delegates to this Summit and we are making preparations to receive up to 800 delegates and guests for this Summit.
We would like to encourage all delegates to take advantage of the bounties and beauty of the Pearl of Africa.
Visits will be arranged for the COMESA Forum delegates to a number of Industrial and Economic facilities. Programs and packages will be arranged for visits to major attractions such as the source of the Nile, the Martyrs shrines and National Parks.
Information packages regarding programs for the policy making organs, Hotels, Security and transport arrangements will be made available here. Arrangements have also been made to issue Visas at the point of entry.
The hosting of COMESA Summit will further enhance Uganda’s visibility in the international scene which became prominent with the hosting of CHOGM in 2007, and the hosting of the 26th Inter Parliamentary Union (IPU) Assembly in March 2012.