Botswana has deposited the instruments of Ratification for the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA Agreement) bringing the number of countries that have done so to eight. The other countries that have ratified and deposited their instruments are Burundi, Kenya, Egypt, Rwanda, Uganda, South Africa, and Namibia.
The ceremony took place in Lusaka, at the COMESA Secretariat on 30th January 2020. Botswana High Commissioner to Zambia, Mr Alpheus Matlhaku handed over the ratification instrument to the Chairperson of the Tripartite Taskforce (TTF) Ms Chileshe Mpundu Kapwepwe, who is the Secretary General (SG) of COMESA.
With the ratification of the tripartite agreement by the required number of States, Ambassador Matlhaku said Botswana looks forward to tapping into the wider market of the EAC-COMESA-SADC region.
Commending Botswana, the SG said the TFTA offers a bigger market and it will enable countries to trade more duty free, a move that will increase the levels of intra-Africa trade.
“All Annexes to the Agreement have been finalized , 93.4 percent of the rules of origin have been agreed on, and the exchange of tariff offers is near complete,” she said. “More critically, negotiations between SACU and EAC have now been concluded and this will pave way for the commencement of trade between the two bloc to which Botswana belongs.”
She noted that the implementation of selected priority tripartite instruments and programmes, which do not require ratification is on-going. These include online mechanism for reporting, monitoring and elimination of non-tariff barriers, the SMS based NTBs reporting system and the transport facilitation and infrastructure programmes.
She reiterated the importance of the TFTA adding the its implementation will result into positive real income gains for partner states, an increase in net exports, an increase cross border flow of investments and creation of decent jobs the women, youth and men. She called on other countries ratify the instruments to ease movement of goods, services and people in the region. For the TFTA to enter into force, fourteen ratifications are needed.
“We now remain with six countries for the Agreement to enter into force,” Madam Kapwepwe stated.
The TFTA was launched in June 2015 with the aim of bringing together, in one common market, countries in the three regional economic blocs namely the East African Community (EAC), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The Tripartite FTA brings together a population of 700 million people with an estimated Gross Domestic product of well over US$1.4 trillion.