Southern African Development Community (Sadc) has urged its member States to fast-track the process of finalising all outstanding issues that stand in the way of the successful implementation of the Comesa-EAC-Sadc Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA).
In June this year, the 15-member trade bloc joined the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the East African Community (EAC) in launching TFTA whose overarching goal is to remove some of the inconsistencies and costs in regional integration brought about through overlapping memberships.
Comprising three largest regional economic communities in Africa, the TFTA stretches from Cape Town in South Africa to Cairo in Egypt, creating an integrated market with a combined population of almost 600 million people and a total gross domestic product (GDP) of about $1 trillion.
Speaking during the official opening of the Sadc Council of Ministers in Gaborone, Botswana, Sadc executive secretary Stergomena Tax said there are still key issues that need to be worked on as soon as possible.
Said Tax: “For the TFTA to be operationalised, we need to expeditiously finalise the pending outstanding issues that relate to elimination of import duties, trade remedies and rules of origin as well as finalisation of offers that need to be resolved as these may still affect the ability of the TFTA to really make a difference.
“As such, we need to deal with them so as to ensure that the TFTA is smoothly up and running,” she said during the official opening of the Sadc Council of Ministers.”
Each of the three regional economic communities employs their own rules of origin in their respective trade agreements.