Common Market for East and Southern Africa
Economic experts have supported the recent decision taken by the government of Uganda to join the COMESA FTA, saying it would increase the volume of Ugandan exports to the COMESA FTA and promote the country’s economic growth.
Three regional economic communities (Recs) have taken the lead as Africa seeks to remove trade barriers by 2017.
Plans to create an African free trade area (FTA) by integrating three existing African trade blocs consisting of 26 countries by July 2014 are gaining momentum. The aim is to create a free market of 525 million people with an output of US$1 trillion making it a global player.
Plans to create a 26-nation free trade area by integrating three existing African trade blocs by July 2014 are on track and the only major sticking point is likely to be harmonising rules of origin, the three blocs said on Friday.
Strengthening bilateral trade and investment relations with African countries was a key trade and economic strategy for South Africa, Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Davies told the sixth Africa Economic Forum in Cape Town this week.
First round of negotiations to establish the $1 trillion Tripartite Free Trade Area (FTA) covering 27 countries in eastern and southern Africa are scheduled to start next month, the head of the taskforce spearheading the process has said.
As South Africa moves to bolster industrialisation efforts within its own borders, the planned roll out of a giant free trade area across Africa may hit a snag when it comes to negotiating about trade in manufactured goods between member countries, the Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies said yesterday.
African heads of state have ambitious plans to create a free trade zone, encompassing 26 countries and more than 600 million people on the continent. But economic experts warn the project is a bold step that comes with a plethora of legal, administrative and political hurdles. Others suggest the plan might be a pie in the sky.
It is not certain that an African free trade area will further regional integration or deepen the existing inequality between countries.
At the Chirundu border, along the north-south transport corridor between Zimbabwe and Zambia, commercial trucks used to wait five days to get clearance. Now, they can get through in a matter of hours.
It is referred to as the “Grand Free Trade Area” or the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement, and true to its name it will be one of the largest free trade areas in the developing world when it becomes a reality. The 26-nation free trade area encompassing countries from Egypt to South Africa and three existing free trade blocs will be a very important platform for countries to engage and invest.
Negotiations for the establishment of a grand free trade area by three African regional economic communities are scheduled to start soon following the launching of the process by a Tripartite Summit that ended last week in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The planned creation of a 26-nation African Tripartite Free Trade Area (FTA) will draw industrial investment to South Africa by making it a springboard for low-duty access to other parts of the continent, trade and industry director general Lionel October said on Monday.
Industry and Commerce Minister Welshman Ncube says if negotiations for the Common Market for East and Southern Africa - East African Community - South African Development Corporation Tripartite Free Trade Area (FTA) are successfully completed, Zimbabwean goods and commodities will find greater markets on the continent.
On Sunday, heads of state and government from Africa’s three main regional blocs – the Southern African Development Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the East African Community – will meet in South Africa to launch negotiations for a Tripartite Free Trade Area (T-FTA).
A trade expert yesterday warned that vested interests and policy differences in the East Africa and Southern African region could derail a bid to create a free-trade agreement among 26 countries unless there was enough "political stomach for deeper (regional) integration".
Success of the grandiose Tripartite Free Trade Area will largely depend on how geared members of COMESA, EAC and SADC are to swiftly implementing agreements and trade protocols.
The Southern Africa Development Community and the Common Market for East and Southern Africa are currently in the process of liberalizing trade in services.
In the inaugural tripartite summit held in Kampala, Uganda in October 2008, our heads of state and government made a number of decisions, one of which was that the 26 countries that make up the COMESA-EAC-SADC tripartite should speed up the process of integration as outlined in the Lagos plan of action and as articulated by the continental body of the African union commission.
Swaziland will next week host the third meeting of the COMESA committee on the Customs Union.