COMESA's institutions promote regional integration and development: COMESA has created a number of institutions to promote regional cooperation and development, ranging from the African Trade and Insurance Agency and the Trade and Development Bank to the Federation of National Associations of Women in Business in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Position:Focus on COMESA

COMESA has established a number of specialised institutions to support regional integration. Some of them, such as the Trade and Development Bank (TDB), the African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) and the Africa Leather and Leather Products Institute (ALLPI) have become continental institutions, while its financial institutions and enjoy high international ratings.

The Authority of Heads of State and Government is the supreme policy organ of COMESA. It is responsible for general policy direction and performance overview. Below it is the Council of Ministers, which is composed of ministers from the coordinating ministries of all the member states. It is responsible for policymaking, monitoring and reviewing the functioning of COMESA. It has the power to make regulations, directives and decisions that are binding on member states and ensuring the implementation of the agreed policies.

The Intergovernmental Committee is responsible for the development of specific programmes and action plans in all fields of cooperation except finance and monetary cooperation. The Committee of Governors of Central Banks provides advice to the Authority and Council of Ministers on regional finance and monetary affairs. The Technical Committees are responsible for the preparation of comprehensive implementation programmes and timetables in various sectors including monitoring and reviewing of implementation of programmes.

The COMESA Secretariat is headed by the Secretary-General who is appointed by the Authority and is responsible for monitoring the implementation by member states of the provisions of the COMESA Treaty and regulations, directives and decisions of the Council among other functions.

Specialised institutions

COMESA's specialised institutions range from the Court ofjustice, which adjudicates on all matters which may be referred to it pursuant to the COMESA Treaty, through financial institutions such as ATI and TDB, to business bodies such as the COMESA Business Council and the Federation of National Associations of Women in Business in Eastern and Southern Africa, which exists to promote women's entrepreneurship.

Financial institutions

African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI)

The African Trade Insurance Agency (ATI) was founded in 2001 by African countries to encourage more inward investments by providing insurance against trade and investment risks. ATI does this by removing the perceived and real investment, political and credit risks that are linked to many transactions.

Specifically, ATI covers risks such as expropriation, non-payment by governments, state-owned companies and corpo-rates, non-honouring of sovereign and sub-sovereign obligations, political violence (including terrorism and sabotage), currency inconvertibility and embargoes. See the case study opposite for an example of ATI's work.

Since 2008, ATI has been ranked as one of the highest rated institutions in Africa with an 'A/stable' rating for Financial Strength and Counterparty Credit by Standard & Poor's.

COMESA Business Council (CBC)

COMESA Business Council (CBC) is established as a private sector institution of COMESA that represents the interests of businesses sectors at a regional level. The services provided include advocacy, to actively promote business participation in regional integration, investment and global trade. This is done by facilitating the growth of strong business synergies, the development of business opportunities, business alliances, legislative and strategic advocacy. It provides tailored services driven by both industry and enterprise interests. CBC is constitutionally managed by a board of directors from nine of the national apex business associations from the COMESA member states. The CBC Secretariat is based in Lusaka, Zambia, at the COMESA Secretariat.

COMESA Clearing House (CCH)

The COMESA Clearing House (CCH) is hosted in Harare, Zimbabwe. Its...

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