Business

Tripartite FTA to be launched soon

KALONDE NYATI, Lusaka
COMMON Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Eastern African Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states are expected to finally launch the tripartite Free Trade Area (FTA) in December, which will boost trade in the three regional economic blocs.
COMESA secretary- general Sindiso Ngwenya said the following progress made by the economic blocs in implementing the initiative after member states made strides in tariff offers and on rules of origin which stipulates that imported products should meet 75 percent value addition from the country of origin.
“The decision to launch the tripartite FTA took into account the fact that the majority of the tripartite member states have made ambitious tariff offers and agreed on rules of origin to be applied in the interim while further work continues on product specific rules of origin,” he said.
The tripartite sectorial committee of ministers meeting in Bujumbura, Burundi from October 24-25 2014 has agreed to launch the Tripartite Free Trade Area (FTA) during the Tripartite Summit of heads of State to be held in Egypt in December.
Mr Ngwenya who is also COMESA-EAC-SADC tripartite task force chairperson said in a statement issued yesterday that the development will result in the implementation of a developmental regional integration strategy that places priority on infrastructure development, industrialisation and free movement of goods and services.
He said once launched the tripartite FTA, will be the largest economic bloc on the continent and will pave way for the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) in 2017.
“The tripartite FTA offers significant opportunities for business and investment within the Tripartite and will act as a magnet for attracting foreign direct investment into the tripartite region.
The business community, in particular, will benefit from an improved and harmonised trade regime which reduces the cost of doing business as a result of elimination of overlapping trade regimes due to multiple memberships,” he said.
The tripartite TFA encompassing 26 member states from the COMESA, EAC and SADC,with a combined population of 625 million people and a gross domestic product (GDP) of US$ 1.2 trillion, will account for half of the membership of the African Union and 58 percent of the continent’s GDP.

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