The COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) agreement was signed during the 3rd Meeting of the Tripartite Summit of Heads of State and Government held in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. The TFTA brings together COMESA, EAC and SADC regions bringing into reality the vision and inspiration of the Abuja Treaty to have one African market.
The signing of the TFTA has created the largest trading bloc of 26 Member States in Africa, with a combined population of about 625 million people and a gross domestic product of over US 1.6 trillion. This constitutes over half of Africa’s population as well as economic activity. It is expected that the TFTA will enhance intra-regional trade – which at the moment stands at about 12 percent, resolve the challenges of multiple memberships, as well as instigate the path to the Continental Free Trade Area which is expected to be launched on June 15, 2015.
The meeting also adopted the roadmap that will give guidance and mandate for completion of outstanding issues under Phase I and launched Phase II of the negotiations which covers trade in services, and trade related issues such as Intellectual Property Rights, Trade Development and Competitiveness, Competition policy.