EAC hands over COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Task Force Chairmanship to COMESA
The Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC), Amb. Liberat Mfumukeko handed over the Chairmanship of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Task Force (TTF) to Mr Sindiso Ndema Ngwenya, the Secretary General of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) on Friday, 17th November, 2017.
Speaking during the handover ceremony , the EAC Secretary General and outgoing Chairperson, Amb Liberat Mfumukeko commended the incoming Chair for the various occasions he was able to step in on his behalf as TTF Chair during some important events that have taken place over the last few months.
“I wish to specifically make reference to the signing ceremonies of the Tripartite Agreement by the Republic of Madagascar and also the Republic of Mauritius.”
He said during the EAC’s tenure as Chair of the TTF from October 2016 to date, incremental progress has been made towards the realisation of the Tripartite vision of a developmental Free Trade Area that will promote economic development and growth in the 26 Partner States.
The outgoing Chair highlighted the progress made during EAC’s tenure which includes negotiations on all the outstanding Annexes in the Tripartite Agreement; 21 Member States have now signed the Free Trade Area Agreement out of 26; Work and Infrastructure programmes has been developed and was considered during the first Tripartite Ministerial Committee Meeting on Infrastructure.
Amb Mfumukeko informed the participants who attended the ceremony that the Tripartite now entered a new phase towards the realisation of the Tripartite agenda in which the primary focus areas are; concluding the negotiations on the outstanding areas of Agreement such as the Rules of origin and Tariffs, commencing work on Phase 2 negotiations, concluding the Agreement on Movement of Business Person as well as concretizing the ongoing work on the Industrial and Infrastructure Pillars.
“I am happy to tell you that all the EAC Partner States have committed to ratifying the Agreement by December, 2017.”
He called for the incoming Chair to address the main challenge which arises from the lack of funds which has had a paralyzing effect on the implementation of the Tripartite work schedules across the board. “I am confident that the incoming Chair, will successfully pursue and deliver on our engagement with the bank and also explore other diversified source for budgetary support.”
On his part, the incoming Chair and Secretary General of COMESA Mr Sindiso Ndema Ngwenya thanked the EAC, as the outgoing chairperson, for the excellent work done and achievements that have been made during her tenure as chairperson.
Speaking on the challenge of funding Mr. Ngwenya informed the meeting that the African Development Bank (AfDB) has provided some financial resources to support efforts aimed at creating awareness on the importance of the Tripartite FTA Agreement and the need to have it ratified by Tripartite Member/Partner States that have signed it in order for it to enter into force.
He disclosed to the participants that the Agreement requires at 14 ratifications before it may become operational and so far it is only Egypt that has ratified with the EAC being in the process of ratification.
The incoming Chair said the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite is in dire need of financial resources to support proceeding with Phase II work as the budgetary support from cooperating partners that supported Phase I work has been exhausted.
“I am confident that with the concerted effort and support of EAC and SADC in the Tripartite Task Force, the task of mobilizing for resources and clearing outstanding work will be manageable”.