Fresh Push to Attain Tripartite Ratification Threshold
COMESA Council of Ministers will engage their counterparts in Member States that have not ratified the Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement (TFTA) to do so as a matter of priority to pave way for its implementation.
This was one of the key decisions taken during the 43rd meeting of the Council conducted on 01 December 2022 in Lusaka, Zambia. The action is intended to clear the remaining hurdle to enable the TFTA to enter into force.
The ministers noted that the delay in achieving the 14 States’ ratification threshold has negatively impacted the Member/Partner States in harnessing the potential benefits from international support
for the financing of development programmes. It was also constraining resource mobilization efforts by the COMESA Secretariat. So far, 11 States have ratified the TFTA, three short of the required threshold of 14 to enable the Agreement to enter into force.
The Council noted that Development Partners were keen to support development of regional value chains and corridor approach in infrastructure development as opposed to individual country projects.
Specifically, it was indicated that the AfDB and EU were keen to see the Tripartite Agreement come into force to guarantee continued financial support to all the three pillars. The TFTA was launched in June 2015 and has been ratified by 11 Member/ Partner States of the three regional blocs; the Common Market for
Eastern and Southern Africa – (COMESA), East African Community (EAC) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
The tripartite is anchored on three pillars: market integration, infrastructure development and industrial development.
The Council underscored the significance of operationalizing the Tripartite Free Trade agreement whose developmental approach to integration through Infrastructure and Industrialization pillars is catalytic to increase intra-African trade.
“The latter were critical in supporting intra-regional trade and investments through regional value chains and value-added productions as well as strengthening soft and physical connectivity in the region,” said the ministerial report noting the need for the Council of to scale up the engagement to attain the remaining three ratifications.
Meanwhile, the Council has urged Member States that have not yet completed the process of joining the COMESA Free Trade Area (FTA) to fast track the process as a matter of priority. They include DR Congo, Eswatini, Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia.
The FTA was launched in 2000 and so far 16 countries have joined it and are trading under its duty free and quota free regime which has contributed significantly to intra- COMESA trade. The value of Intra-COMESA total exports increased by 28% from US$ 10 billion in 2020 to US$ 13 billion in 2021.