Tripartite launch at advanced stage


THE Joint Tripartite Sectoral Ministerial Committees are refining the Tripartite Free Trade Area documents before the launch scheduled for tomorrow.


The committees are responsible for legal, trade, finance, economic matters and home internal affairs. The committee began the work on Sunday in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, for the removal of trade barriers among members of the Common Market of Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), Eastern African Community (EAC) and Sadc.

These include the Sharm El Sheikh Declaration Launching the Comesa-EAC-Sadc Tripartite Free Trade Area; the Draft Post Signature Implementation Roadmap, the Indicative Schedule of Negotiations on Outstanding Issues in Phase I and Phase II negotiations, and the Programme of Work on Movement of Business Persons and the Industrial Development Pillar.

The Comesa-EAC-Sadc Tripartite FTA will allow businesspersons to trade freely and cheaply adding that multiple trade regimes usually result in expensive business deals while a one and harmonised trade regime will allow for cheap business deals.

Egypt’s senior advisor to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Small and Medium Enterprises Sayed Elbous welcomed the delegates from the 26 Member States of the Tripartite blocs to Egypt. He said the African continent was banking on the realisation of the Comesa-EAC-Sadc tripartite FTA to launch the Continental Free Trade Area in 2017.

“You are the hope of the African people to materialise the Continental Free Trade Area which the African Heads of State have decided to finalize by 2017,” he told the delegates. “We must remain committed to continue with the remaining work of finalising the outstanding issues of the negotiations.”

The first phase addressed trade in goods which has now attained sufficient consensus leading to the decision to launch the TFTA. The second phase of the negotiations will be launched during the Summit and will cover trade in services, competition policy, intellectual property rights, and other trade related matters.

Comesa secretary general Sindiso Ngwenya said the Tripartite FTA launch was historical as it will have great outcomes in the region and beyond.

Speaking after the opening of the technical committee meeting, Ngwenya who is the Chair of the Tripartite Task Force said the FTA will ensure that jobs are created as companies involved in the production of goods and service across borders will be established in the region to take advantage of the wider market base of 26 member States with a population of 625 million people and a Gross Domestic Product of $1,3 trillion.

“The African leadership will need to speed up the implementation of the integration agenda as the continent urgently needs to create jobs for the over 60 percent of its population who are the youth,” Ngwenya said.

He said free movement of people across borders was key on the agenda for the tripartite as will stimulate business development and investment opportunities for the three regions.