Since 2008, there was talk about merging the member states of COMESA, the East African Community (EAC, with five members) and the Southern Africa Development Cooperation (SADC, with 14 members). In 2011, leaders of the 26 African countries within these three existing regional economic communities announced plans to negotiate a tripartite free trade area between them which would, cover over 600 million people and an estimated US$1 trillion in trade. In June 2011 in Johannesburg governments adopted the negotiating principles, modalities for negotiations and a roadmap for negotiating such an agreement at the 2nd Comesa-EAC-Sadc Summit. The first negotiating round was held in Nairobi in December 2011 and in June 2015 the "Tripartite Free Trade Area" or #TFTA was finally signed. It now needs to be ratified by the assemblies of parliaments of each member state to come into effect.

The texts of the FTA are here:

This agreement is to form the precursor of a continental Africa-wide FTA or CFTA.

last update: June 2015


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    • 10-Feb-2016 Comesa Business Council Regional dialogue set to ensure the inclusiveness of the private sector in Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement negotiations
      The inaugural Tripartite Regional Dialogue will ensure inclusive participation of the private sector in the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) negotiations.
    • 28-Jan-2016 Business Day Participation in Africa trade deal tenuous
      26 African countries signed the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) agreement. However, only three of Africa’s eight regional economic communities are participating in the TFTA.
    • 2-Jan-2016 COMESA appreciates Tripartite FTA progress
      The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) Council of Ministers has appreciated the progress made so far in the negotiating process that include finalising the outstanding work in Phase 1 of the Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement (TFTA).
    • 13-Oct-2015 All Africa East African states agree on free trade area issues
      The East African Community partner states have agreed on the outstanding trade issues under the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA).
    • 22-Sep-2015 Lexology TFTA: Pan-African free trade area announced
      TFTA states that its aims include harmonisation and improvement of regional trading arrangements, enhancement of trade facilitation.
    • 20-Sep-2015 Mining Weekly Mooted free-trade area seen boosting intra-African minerals trade flows
      Formal negotiations are taking place among the 54 member States of the African Union to create a free-trade zone on the continent by 2017.
    • 9-Sep-2015 Diasporas News La Zone de Libre-Echange (ZLE) tripartite en question !
      Dans le contexte géopolitique et les guerres larvées impliquant plusieurs pays membres de cette nouvelle chimère, nos populations ne méritent-elles pas une meilleure considération de la part de nos dirigeants et de nos institutions.
    • 8-Sep-2015 Swazi Observer Tripartite FTA’s sugar industries vow to eliminate trade associated problems
      In a bid to eliminate possible problems associated with sugar trade in Africa’s new trade agreement, the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), sugar industries of the bloc have resolved to speak in one unified voice.
    • 27-Aug-2015 The Chronicle Comesa drafts 2016-20 strategic plan
      Removing tariff and non-tariff barriers to facilitate increased regional trade dominated the deliberations that buttressed the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) agreement
    • 17-Jul-2015 OULEPO ARNAUD Les oubliés du libre-échange en Afrique
      La zone de libre-échange entre le COMESA-EAC-SADEC constitue la première du genre en Afrique. L’article s’interroge sur le choix des partenaire, le sort des bloc régionaux exclus et également la probable zone de libre-échange continentale de 2017
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