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: http://www.tralac.org/resources/by-region/comesa-eac-sadc-tripartite-fta.html.
This agreement is to form the precursor of a continental Africa-wide FTA or CFTA.
last update: June 2015
photo: Tahrir Institute
Ministers from the tripartite group of regional economic communities in eastern and southern Africa have set June 2021 as the deadline to achieve the threshold of 14 ratifications required to enable the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) enter into force.
Zambia has become the latest country to ratify the Tripartite Free Trade Area, bringing the number of countries that have ratified the agreement and deposited the instruments to nine. The agreement, being pursued by COMESA, the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), needs a total of 14 countries to enter into force.
Under market integration, 22 countries out of 28 have now signed the TFTA Agreement, while eight have signed and ratified.
Namibia is the latest to ratify the TFTA agreement. Seven countries are expected to complete the ratification process before the end of this year paving the way for its implementation.
Namibia has become the eighth country to ratify the Tripartite Free Trade Area. Six more countries are required for the agreement to enter into force.
Cabinet in Zimbabwe has approved the ratification of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA).
EAC’s increased exports to SADC excluding Tanzania was as a result of the increased benefits arising from the membership to the EAC-COMESA-SADC Tripartite.
Players in the automobile sectors from the East African Community and the Southern African Customs Union are developing a joint policy to encourage motor vehicle manufacturing that is beneficial to both blocs.
The TFTA will also be a building bloc for the African Continental Free Trade Area, COMESA official said.
Members of the Lower House approved the agreement establishing a Tripartite Free Trade Area among the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the East African Community, and the Southern African Development Community.