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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
photo: Tahrir Institute

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    Africa blocs draft giant free trade roadmap
    Three African trade blocs that have agreed to form a free trade area covering more than half a billion people created a long overdue roadmap on Monday.
    Trade blocs agree to simple rules of origin
    Three leading regional trading blocs in Africa — EAC, COMESA and SADC — have simplified the rules of origin to be applied by all member states in a move aimed at boosting intra-continental trade.
    Together we are stronger
    Twenty six African countries, a single market and open borders that allow persons to move across freely and conduct business. That was the vision of the Tripartite Summit that took place in Kampala last week. President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania called it “a landmark summit for a landmark decision” while President Yoweri Museveni said it was “historic”.
    Afro-trade bloc will draw FDI and reduce costs, SADC boss
    The proposed merger of the EAC, SADC and COMESA will help reduce the cost of doing business for companies within the 26 countries and boost foreign direct investment (FDI) to levels never seen before.
    EAC states should agree to one trading bloc, says IMF
    The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has challenged three East African Community (EAC) partner states to agree to one regional trade bloc in order to make the customs union (CU) more effective.
    Uganda Summit paves way for Africa’s economic integration
    African leaders from three regional economic blocs held a historic joint summit in Kampala, Uganda, last week, a move that adds fresh impetus to the long-term plan of setting up a continental economic community.
    Kenyan jobs on the line as regional trading blocs warm up to merger
    The pact signed on Wednesday could hasten the proposed African Economic Community but may come too soon, especially for Kenyan manufacturers.
    Region’s Ministers call for free trade
    The first Tripartite Comesa-EAC-SADC Council of Ministers that opened on Monday at Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort seeks the summit of heads of state and governments to endorse the creation of a free trade area which will cut across the three Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and institutionalise it by giving it a legal underpinning.
    Overlapping membership to top REC’s summit agenda
    The issue of overlapping membership will be a major area of focus during the first joint meeting of Heads of Government, of the three Regional Economic Communities (REC)’s, in Eastern and Southern Africa, namely the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).