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APA | 27 October 2014
Launch of Tripartite FTA scheduled for December
Three of Africa’s regional economic communities have agreed to launch the long-awaited Tripartite Free Trade Area at a joint summit of leaders from the regional groups scheduled for December in Egypt, APA learnt here Monday.
Deputy Zimbabwean Trade and Industry Minister Chiratidzo Mabuwa said ministers from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) agreed during a meeting in Burundi at the weekend that the Tripartite FTA would be launched during the Tripartite Summit of Heads of State and Government in Egypt in mid-December.
The Tripartite FTA is expected to result in the establishment of an integrated market of the 26 countries, with a combined population of almost 600 million people; total Gross Domestic Product of about US$1 trillion; half of the African Union (AU) in terms of membership; and 57 percent of the total population of the African Union.
“Africa has now joined the league of emerging economies and the grand FTA will play a pivotal and catalytic role in the transformation of the continent”, said Mabuwa who chaired the ministerial committee meeting.
She said the three regional blocs have made significant progress in negotiations on trade in goods.
“We now need to expedite negotiations on trade-related areas, including trade in services, intellectual property and competition policy to ensure equity, among all citizens of the wider region.”
The Tripartite FTA popularly known as the Grand Free Trade Area, will be the largest economic bloc on the continent and the launching pad for the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area in 2017.