South Africa has today signed the agreement establishing the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) in Kampala, Uganda during the meeting of the tripartite Sectoral Ministers Committee. The meeting was attended by the trade Ministers and officials from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC), and Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The TFTA was launched by the Heads of States at Sharm el-Shaik, Egypt in June 2015 and South Africa did not signed the agreement at that stage since there was still outstanding work in some of the annexures to the agreement. All the annexures have been completed and adopted by the tripartite Sectoral Ministers Committee, enabling South Africa to sign the agreement. This TFTA represents an integrated market of 26 countries with a combined population of 625 million people and a total gross domestic product (GDP) of $1.6 trillion.
South Africa is 19th country to sign the agreement. The agreement will enter into force once 14 countries have submitted their instrument of rectification. Egypt recently became the first country to rectify the agreement. Once the agreement enters into force it will reduce the tariffs on goods traded between the tripartite countries and new opportunities for exports as well as regional value chains.
The Minister of Trade and Industry, Dr Rob Davies said South Africa has been a champion of the tripartite process from the beginning and committed to the process. Minister Davies indicated that South Africa is very pleased that it is in a position to sign the agreement. He stated that while the outstanding annexures were been finalised South Africa as part of Southern African Customs Union (SACU) participated in the negotiations to finalise the bilateral tariffs commitments. Tariffs negotiations between SACU and Eastern Africa Community (EAC) are very near to conclusion.
"The conclusion of these negotiations will be another important step forward in the process since it will provide commercial benefits to our business people by enabling them to trade products between SACU and EAC countries at a reduced or zero tariff,"
Minister reiterated that the TFTA is an important initiative in accelerating regional integration efforts aimed at ensuring that African countries trade with each other.
Issued by: Department of Trade and Industry