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
The Tripartite Free Trade Area will comprise 28 countries, cover approximately 18.3 million square kilometers and hold about 61 percent of the continent’s population.
The agreement brings together three regional economic communities – COMESA, EAC and SADC – into a single free trade area covering 57% of Africa’s population with a combined GDP of US$1.3 trillion as of 2015
Nineteen countries have now signed the agreement. For benefits to actually be realized, it must be ratified by at least 14 of the 26 member countries. Only Egypt has ratified it.
Ministers from 26 African countries are meeting in Kampala in another attempt to see through overdue negotiations on the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA).
A paltry eight African have so far ratified the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) more than two years after it was launched in Egypt, raising fears of a failed continental effort to create an expanded trade barrier free market.
Plans to establish a single market for the 26 African countries in the Eastern and Southern African region – known as the tripartite free trade area (TFTA) – could be overly ambitious.
The 10th EAC-COMESA-SADC Tripartite meeting opened in Nairobi to resolve issues that remain outstanding before the implementation of the Tripartite Free Trade Area.
African policy makers have for a long time taken keen interest in the promotion of intra-regional trade in order to bring about development in the continent.
The inaugural Tripartite Regional Dialogue will ensure inclusive participation of the private sector in the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) negotiations.
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.