South Africa deposits Tripartite FTA Ratification instrument
The Republic of South Africa has deposited the instrument of Ratification of the EAC-COMESA-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA Agreement) bringing the number of countries that have done so to four. The other countries that have ratified and deposited the instrument are Kenya, Egypt and Uganda.
The handover ceremony of the instrument of ratification took place in Cairo, Egypt on the margins of the African Ministers of Trade Meeting at Al Manara International Conference Center. South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry Hon. Rob Davies handed over the ratification to the current Chairperson of the EAC-COMESA-SADC Tripartite Taskforce (TTF) Ms Chileshe Kapwepwe, who is the Secretary General of COMESA.
Minister Davies described the TFTA as an explicit development integration framework that will not only address trade but will also deal with significant barriers to trade that need to be resolved in turn to increase intra-Africa trade.
“It was the tripartite initiative that led to the work of broadening the integration beyond our existing regional communities and working towards establishment of large free trade areas across our continent, the initiative that is now taken forward by the African Union,” said Minister Davies.
“We as South Africa are delighted to be depositing this ratification instrument because we believe it is good for the country, region and entire continent. We need to trade more amongst ourselves without any barriers,” he added.
Davies reiterated that numerous benefits would accrue to South Africa as a result of the Agreement. South Africa’s trade with TFTA countries represents about 16% of its trade with the world. In 2017, total trade with TFTA countries was in excess of $27.6 billion. The bulk of the trade is with within SADC.
Davies noted that the TFTA will help the EAC-COMESA-SADC region address issues concerning removing barriers to trade, having adequate infrastructure and developing appropriate production structures.
Chairperson of the TFTA Taskforce Ms Chileshe Kapwepwe commended the government of South Africa for being the first SADC country to ratify and deposit the TFTA Agreement. She said the TFTA offers a bigger market and it will enable countries to trade more duty free a move that will increase the levels of intra-Africa trade.
“It is therefore a day of celebration as we witness the deposition of the instrument of ratification by the Republic of South Africa and I can only urge the remaining countries to follow in these steps and ratify as soon as possible,” Ms Kapwepwe added.
She revealed that six more countries will soon ratify the Agreements paving the way for the region to have ease movement of goods, services and people.
The TFTA was launched in June 2015 with the aim of bringing together, in one common market, countries in the three regional economic blocs namely the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
For the TFTA to enter into force, fourteen signatures and fourteen ratifications are needed. So far the taskforce has received 24 signatures and the ratifications now become four.
The Tripartite FTA brings together a population of 700 million people with an estimated Gross Domestic product of well over US$1.4 trillion.