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
Implementation challenges and barriers to trade liberalization currently dogging SADC’s Free Trade Area (FTA) will continue to haunt member states in the implementation of an ambitious grand FTA encompassing COMESA, EAC and SADC.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has appealed to its members to increase intra-trade in Africa.
As the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) continue to integrate their economies, countries are now subscribing to the block’s trading area in order to attract investment.
South Africa is pushing ahead to secure a free trade agreement between the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the East African Community (EAC) and the Common Market for East African States (Comesa).
African governments’ ambitious plan for a tripartite free trade area (FTA), stretching from South Africa to Egypt, could be more realistic than getting existing ineffective regional customs unions on the continent to work.
The envisaged grand Free Trade Area (FTA), a grouping of COMESA, EAC and SADC will hold a decisive tripartite summit in January 2011 in South Africa as a major push for coalescence amongst the 26 countries gathers traction.
President Mugabe has urged the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa to broaden its Free Trade Area to take on board other regional blocs and move away from exporting primary products in favour of processed goods.
The private sector has been urged to actively participate in the formulation of policies that will help guide the proposed Free Trade Area of COMESA, East African Community (EAC), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
Three regional trading blocs have created a draft agreement which paves the way for the setting up of a $624 billion free trade area.
Three regional trading blocs — the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa), East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) — plan to launch a Free Trade Area by 2012.