Tripartite Free Trade Area launched
On 10 June 2015, the Heads of State and Government of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) launched the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area. The aim is to have a single market of 26 countries with a combined population of 632 million people which should bolster trade amongst the member countries and increase investment flows into the single market.
A key factor to creating the single market is to provide for the free movement of goods and services. As such the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement provides for the progressive elimination of tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade in goods. It also provides for the liberalisation of trade in services, which is needed in order to both facilitate investment as well as provide services needed to trade in goods. As such the agreement presents significant business opportunities which would be much easier accessible than in the past. Importantly the agreement recognises that the member countries must cooperate on customs matters and the implementation of trade facilitation measures. It is hoped that this will overcome the customs problems as well as implementation of the free trade commitments currently experienced in SADC.
The launch of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area follows an agreement in October 2008 to negotiate a free trade agreement amongst the member states of the three trade blocs. The current agreement presents the legal framework in terms of which free trade in goods and services will be implemented.
The member states of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area are:
- Democratic Republic of Congo
- South Africa
The COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area will also be a launching pad for the Continental Free Trade Area in 2017. This agreement will include other regional trade areas such as ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States), Eccas (the Economic Community of Central African States) and CEN-SAD (the Community of Sahel-Saharan States).
Given Africa's, as yet untapped, potential and the almost unfailing brand loyalty first movers are afforded businesses are urged to contact Trade Law Chambers for further information and assistance.
© Trade Law Chambers 2015