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 summit, which starts on Saturday with a meeting of permanent secretaries, will bring together member states of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The first ever tripartite summit of the East African Community, the Common Market for East and Southern Africa and the Southern Africa Development Community takes place in Kampala this week.
The plan to merge 26 eastern and southern African states into a single trading bloc with a combined gross domestic product of $625 billion is complete and ready for heads of State to sign-off next month.
Trade ministers from Comesa have passed a resolution setting the stage for the establishment of what would be Africa’s largest common market. The ministers want trade regimes within the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC) harmonised.
East Africa’s trade ministers have proposed the formation of a larger trading bloc to eliminate friction among states over deals signed with partners outside the continent. The proposal made at a meeting of the Trade ministers in Arusha last week calls for the formation of a grand Free Trade Area (FTA) consisting of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc).
Three African trade blocs from southern and East Africa are moving closer to align and harmonise trade rules for increased integration, a conference resolved on Monday.
The leaders mandated Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki to convene a joint summit of COMESA, the South Africa Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC) to discuss the harmonization of the cross-border trading system.
East African countries have been implored to pull out their individual membership from the Common Markets for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and South Africa Development Community (SADC) and choose the suitable one to re-join it as an EAC bloc.