South Africa joins African Tripartite Free Trade Area

National flag of South Africa. [File Photo:IC]

South Africa has deposited the instrument of ratification of an agreement establishing the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) said on Thursday.

The TFTA comprises three regional economic blocks — the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

South Africa did this on the margins of a meeting of African Union (AU) trader ministers in Cairo, Egypt, on Dec. 12-13. The deposit of the instrument means that South Africa has formally and legally committed to the TFTA.

“It was the tripartite initiative that led to the work of broadening the integration beyond our existing regional communities and working toward establishment of large free trade areas across our continent,” said South Africa’s Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.

Chileshe Kapwepwe, chair of the Tripartite Task Force and the secretary general of COMESA, congratulated South Africa for the action.

She said six other countries are in the process of depositing their instruments.

The TFTA was launched in June 2015 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt. It intends to integrate the continent and create a big market of 626 million people with a combined gross domestic product of 1.2 trillion U.S. dollars.

Twenty-two of 26 member states have signed the agreement. South Africa signed the agreement in July 2017 and its parliament ratified the agreement in October this year.

South Africa is the fourth country to deposit the instrument of ratification. The other three countries are Egypt, Uganda and Kenya. The agreement will enter into full force once it has been ratified by 14 countries.

South Africa’s trade with TFTA countries represents about 16 percent of its trade with the world, the DTI said.


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