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South Africa deposits instrument ratifying Tripartite Free Trade Area

South Africa deposits instrument ratifying Tripartite Free Trade Area

South Africa has deposited the instrument of ratification of the Agreement establishing the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), says Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies.

The instrument of ratification was deposited on the margins of the 7th African Union Meeting of Ministers of Trade (AMOT) meeting taking place in Cairo, Egypt, which got underway on Wednesday.

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).

The deposit of the instrument means that South Africa has formally and legally committed to the TFTA which was launched in June 2015 in Sharm El-Sheikh.

South Africa signed the agreement in July 2017 and Parliament ratified the Agreement in October this year. A total 22 of 26 member States have signed the agreement, which will enter into full force once it has been ratified by 14 countries.

South Africa is the fourth country to deposit the instrument of ratification. The other three countries are Egypt, Uganda and Kenya.  

Davies, who is attending the two-day AMOT, said South Africa regards the tripartite initiative as extremely important.

“It was the tripartite initiative that led to the work of broadening the integration beyond our existing regional communities and working towards the establishment of large free trade areas across our continent, the initiative that is now taken forward by the African Union,” he said.

Chair of the Tripartite Task Force and the Secretary General of COMESA, Chileshe Kapwepwe, congratulated South Africa and indicated that it was encouraging to the other countries that have already deposited their instruments.

Kapwepwe said there are an additional six countries that are in the process of depositing their instruments.

She said the TFTA’s focus on three pillars namely market integration, industrial development and infrastructure development adding that these areas have been prioritised to support the regional economic integration efforts in the region and the continent.

Davies reiterated that numerous benefits would accrue to South Africa as a result of the agreement.

These include access to new and dynamic markets characterised by a combined gross domestic product of $1.2-trillion and a combined population of about 626-million people, which is over half the total African population and economy.

South Africa’s trade with TFTA countries represents about 16% of its trade with the world.

In 2017, total trade with TFTA countries was in excess of $27.6-billion. The bulk of the trade is with within Southern African Development Community (SADC).


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