Since 2008, there was talk about merging the member states of COMESA, the East African Community (EAC, with five members) and the Southern Africa Development Cooperation (SADC, with 14 members). In 2011, leaders of the 26 African countries within these three existing regional economic communities announced plans to negotiate a tripartite free trade area between them which would, cover over 600 million people and an estimated US$1 trillion in trade. In June 2011 in Johannesburg governments adopted the negotiating principles, modalities for negotiations and a roadmap for negotiating such an agreement at the 2nd Comesa-EAC-Sadc Summit. The first negotiating round was held in Nairobi in December 2011 and in June 2015 the "Tripartite Free Trade Area" or #TFTA was finally signed. It now needs to be ratified by the assemblies of parliaments of each member state to come into effect.
The texts of the FTA are here: http://www.tralac.org/resources/by-region/comesa-eac-sadc-tripartite-fta.html.
This agreement is to form the precursor of a continental Africa-wide FTA or CFTA.
last update: June 2015
Under market integration, 22 countries out of 28 have now signed the TFTA Agreement, while eight have signed and ratified.
Namibia is the latest to ratify the TFTA agreement. Seven countries are expected to complete the ratification process before the end of this year paving the way for its implementation.
Namibia has become the eighth country to ratify the Tripartite Free Trade Area. Six more countries are required for the agreement to enter into force.
Cabinet in Zimbabwe has approved the ratification of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA).
EAC’s increased exports to SADC excluding Tanzania was as a result of the increased benefits arising from the membership to the EAC-COMESA-SADC Tripartite.
Players in the automobile sectors from the East African Community and the Southern African Customs Union are developing a joint policy to encourage motor vehicle manufacturing that is beneficial to both blocs.
The TFTA will also be a building bloc for the African Continental Free Trade Area, COMESA official said.
Members of the Lower House approved the agreement establishing a Tripartite Free Trade Area among the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the East African Community, and the Southern African Development Community.
The deadline set by the Tripartite Council of Ministers for member States of three regional economic blocs to sign and ratify the tripartite free trade area lapses this month.
The deposit of the instrument means that South Africa has formally and legally committed to the TFTA.