SADC-EAC-COMESA Tripartite Free Trade Area Legal Texts and Policy Documents

SADC-EAC-COMESA Tripartite Free Trade Area Legal Texts and Policy Documents

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Launch of the Tripartite FTA

The Heads of State and Government of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) met on 10 June, 2015 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt at the Third Tripartite Summit to officially launch the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA).

The Tripartite Summit had given Member States 12 months from the launch of the TFTA to conclude outstanding negotiations issues on rules of origin, trade remedies and tariff offers. However, due to a number of challenges faced in the process, the deadline of June 2016 was not met, and the commencement of Phase II negotiations – covering trade in services and other trade related matters – has been delayed pending the conclusion of negotiations on Phase I issues.

Twenty four Member States have signed the Declaration; only Libya and Eritrea have yet to sign. The TFTA Agreement has been signed by 20 of the 26 member countries, namely Angola, Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, State of Libya, Malawi, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Republic of South Africa and the Republic of Madagascar signed the TFTA Agreement on 7 July and 13 July 2017, respectively. The Agreement requires 14 ratifications to enter into force. So far, no country has ratified it.

Documents from the Third Tripartite Summit and the text of the final TFTA Agreement, dated 10 June 2015, are available in the four official languages – English, Arabic, French and Portuguese – below:

  • Communiqué of the Third COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit: Towards a Single Market
    • English (PDF, 110 KB)
    • Arabic (PDF, 240 KB)
    • French (PDF, 265 KB)
    • Portuguese (PDF, 215 KB)
  • Sharm El Sheikh Declaration Launching the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area
    • English (PDF, 185 KB)
    • Arabic (PDF, 318 KB)
    • French (PDF, 167 KB)
    • Portuguese (PDF, 131 KB)
  • Agreement Establishing a Tripartite Free Trade Area Among the COMESA, EAC and SADC
    • English (PDF, 208 KB)
    • Arabic (PDF, 566 KB)
    • French (PDF, 279 KB)
    • Portuguese (PDF, 411 KB)
  • Agreement Establishing a Tripartite Free Trade Area Among the COMESA, EAC and SADC (with signatures)
    • English (PDF, 4.08 MB)


The member states of COMESA, the EAC and SADC agreed in October 2008 to negotiate a Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA). A revised Draft Agreement and Annexes were finalized in December 2010. The COMESA-EAC-SADC Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) underpins the legal and institutional framework for the Tripartite process.

  • Memorandum of Understanding on inter-regional cooperation and integration between COMESA, EAC and SADC
  • Draft Tripartite FTA Agreement (Revised Dec 2010)
    • Annex 01 Negotiating Principles (Revised June 2011)
    • Annex 02 Customs Cooperation
    • Annex 03 Simplification and Harmonisation of Trade Documentation and Procedures
    • Annex 04 Rules of Origin
    • Annex 05 Transit Trade and Transit Facilities
    • Annex 06 Trade Remedies
    • Annex 07 Competition Policy and Consumer Protection
    • Annex 08 Standardisation, Metrology, Conformity Assessment and Accreditation
    • Annex 09 Intellectual Property Rights
    • Annex 10 Movement of Business Persons
    • Annex 12 Trade Development and Competitiveness
    • Annex 13 Tripartite Dispute Settlement Mechanism
    • Annex 14 Non-Tariff Barriers
    • Annex 15 Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures


On 12 June, 2011, the Heads of State and Government of the three regional economic communities (RECs) met and signed a declaration launching negotiations for the establishment of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Free Trade Area (FTA).

  • Declaration Launching the Negotiations for the Establishment of the Tripartite FTA
  • Roadmap for Establishing the Tripartite FTA
  • Communiqué of the Second COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit, 12 June 2011
  • Report of the Meeting of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Ministerial Committee in Preparation for the Tripartite FTA Negotiations, 13 May 2011
  • Tripartite Task Force Progress Report on Implementation of Decisions of the First COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit, 9 May 2011
  • Final Communiqué of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit, 24 October 2008

Stakeholder Meetings

  • EABC Update on 1st Private Sector Dialogue on the Tripartite Free Trade Area Rules of Origin – Key recommendations, February 2016

Draft Agreement

The previous Draft Agreement and Annexes are available below for comparative purposes:

  • Tripartite Agreement (2009)
  • Annex 1 Illustrative NTBs
  • Annex 2 Customs Cooperation
  • Annex 3 Simplification and Harmonisation of Trade documentation and Procedures
  • Annex 4 Rules of Origin
  • Annex 5 Transit Trade Facilities
  • Annex 6 Trade Remedies
  • Annex 7 Competition
  • Annex 8 SQAMT
  • Annex 9 SPS
  • Annex 10 (a) IPR Policy
  • Annex 10 (b) Copyrights
  • Annex 11 Business Persons
  • Annex 13 Trade Development and Competitiveness
  • Annex 14 Dispute Settlement

While tralac endeavours to list current legal instruments, we cannot accept responsibility or liability for any inaccuracies or omissions. The negotiation, ratification, implementation and/or modification of these instruments is an ongoing process and not always well-reported or updated by the relevant authorities. All documents are in English unless stated otherwise.

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