A total of 22 countries out of 26 have now signed the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement. Botswana is latest signatory to the Agreement done on 30th January 2018 in Gaborone. It was witnessed by COMESA Secretary General Sindiso Ngwenya and SADC Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration Dr Thembinkosi Mhlongo.
Mr. Ngwenya who is the current Chairperson of the Tripartite commended Botswana for achieving the grand milestone of signing the TFTA which he said will contribute to deeper integration of the continent.
“This is an enormous opportunity to enhance and boost intra Africa trade,” Mr Ngwenya said
The tripartite FTA brings together a population of 700 million people with an estimated Gross Domestic product of well over USD$1.4 trillion.
Botswana’s Minister of Trade, Investment and Industries Honourable Vincent Seretse, who signed the Agreement on behalf of the Government, said the TFTA will help improve intra-Africa trade by eliminating and reducing tariffs and non-tariff barriers.
He said: “The TFTA Agreement will allow Botswana to get preferential treatment when selling its goods and services to the 26-member countries. This Agreement resonates well with the aspirations of the Botswana National Development Plan (NDP11) of becoming an export led economy.”
Diamonds are the country’s best export by far. Other local products which have been identified that could trade under the TFTA are veterinary vaccines, pharmaceutical products, carpets, plastic, salt and salt products, carpers and textile floor covering.
The TFTA was launched in June 2015 with the aim of bringing together, in one common market, countries in the three regional economic blocs COMESA-EAC and SADC.
Countries that have so far signed the Agreement include Angola, Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, State of Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.