The Tripartite Free Trade Area – towards a new African integration paradigm?
This is tralac’s third book focusing on the Tripartite Free Trade Area (T-FTA). Following an economic assessment of the impact of T-FTA, with specific emphasis on agriculture and agri-business development opportunities in this region, as well as non-tariff barriers that limit intraregional trade and investment in the first book, the second book presented an analysis of the draft T-FTA Agreement and annexes that had been developed by technical experts prior to the launch of the negotiations. What emerges from the negotiations, which were officially launched at the second Tripartite Summit in June 2011, and which got underway early in 2012, may well be markedly different from these draft instruments.
This third book aims to encourage enquiry and new thinking about the African paradigm of regional integration, specifically about the nature, design and architecture of a T-FTA to address the region’s fundamental development challenges.
The T-FTA is anchored on three pillars, namely market integration, infrastructure development, and industrialisation. The explicit inclusion of the second and third pillars in addition to the traditional market integration pillar in the ambit of a free trade area provides the potential for the development of a deeper integration agenda that addresses not only impediments at the borders but more fundamentally the behind-the-border constraints on industrial development and competitiveness.
Commitment to establish a T-FTA that goes beyond the traditional trade-in-goods agenda to address the region’s infrastructure deficit and to enhance its industrial capacity requires new thinking about traditional market integration issues such as tariff liberalisation and rules of origin, which are among the agenda items of the first phase of the negotiations. The T-FTA can be a new generation African integration arrangement; these negotiations will be a test of how serious member states are about a developmental approach to regional integration.
This book was launched at the 2012 tralac Annual Conference, held on 19-20 April in Cape Town, South Africa.
© 2012 Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa and Swedish Embassy, Nairobi
Publication of this book was made possible by the support of the Trade Law Centre for Southern Africa (tralac) and the Swedish Embassy, Nairobi. The views expressed by the authors are not necessarily the view of any of these institutions.
Readers are encouraged to quote and reproduce the material contained in these publications for educational, non-profit purposes, provided the source is acknowledged. Please contact us to obtain authorisation for reproducing this material.