The legal foundation of the COMESA regional competition policy which embodies the COMESA Competition Regulations is found in Article 55 of the COMESA Treaty. The Treaty provides for the agreement among Member States to prohibit any practice which negates the objective of free and liberalized trade. The COMESA Council also observed that the implementation of the COMESA competition policy was urgent as the implementation of the Free Trade Area would increase competition among firms in the region. This was because the elimination of tariff and non-tariff barriers could be replaced by other barriers in the form of restrictive and unfair business practices, unless a regional competition policy was put in place. In line with the Treaty provision, the COMESA Council of Ministers in 2004 adopted the COMESA Competition Regulations to regulate competition within the Member States.
The main objective of the COMESA Competition Regulations is to promote and encourage competition by preventing restrictive business practices and other restrictions that deter the efficient operation of the markets and are likely to affect trade between Member States. In addition, the regulations provide for the creation of linkages between national competition policies and laws and the regional competition law. They also encourage Member States to adopt the COMESA Competition Regulations and develop national competition policies and laws that are aligned to the COMESA Competition Regulations.
In the RISM context, member States are required to achieve compliance with the Regulations and legally bring the Regulations into force at the national level as provided in Article 5(2)(b) of the Treaty through the domestication process. This is expected to be achieved through the domestication of the Regulations by the adoption, incorporation, transformation, reference, publication/gazetting or any other means that gives the Regulations the force of law and the necessary legal effect within the Member States territories.
The regional target for the CCR is that at least 10 Member States adopt COMESA Common Competition Regulation/Law by 2016.