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Tripartite

Tripartite trade leaps threefold in a decade

COMESA Secretary General and Chairperson of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Taskforce Sindiso Ngwenya disclosed that intra-regional trade

among the three Regional Economic Communities (RECs) has grown threefold in a period of 10 years from 2004 to 2014.

 
Giving an update on the Tripartite Free Trade Area negotiations to the African Union (AU) High Level Trade Committee (HATC) at the 24th AU Heads of State Summit, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Ngwenya said growth has taken place on the basis of the individual Free Trade Areas (FTAs) of the three RECs.He said the combined intra-trade of the three RECs for the period grew from US$30.6 Billion to US$102.6 with COMESA recording growth from US$8 billion to US$22 billion, SADC from US$20 billion to US$72 Billion and the EAC with US$2.6 billion in 2004 growing to US$ 8.6 billion by 2014.

“I am confident that the establishment of the COMESA-EAC-SADC FTA would follow the same growth path, however at an accelerated growth pace and, supported by infrastructure and industrialization programs”, Ngwenya said.

In order to launch the establishment of the African Union Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), Ngwenya proposed the initiation of negotiations for the establishment of a free trade area between the Tripartite (COMESA-EAC-SADC) on one hand and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

Namibia Minister of Trade and Commerce Carl Hermann Schlettwein called for unity of purpose by member states and the need to speak with one voice particularly with regard to World Trade Organisation (WTO) negotiations.

Mr. Schlettwen said there was need for flexibility by the United States on the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) to facilitate the participation of African countries.

AU Commission Deputy Chairperson Erastus Mwencha congratulated the Tripartite members for the progress being made in establishing the Free Trade Area.

Mwencha urged members of the Tripartite not to be pessimistic by looking at what happened under the Doha Development Agenda where the promise of trade for the integration of less developed countries under the WTO multi-lateral system was not realized.

“As we approach the Tripartite Free Trade Area, some people come with a mindset of a zero sum game. We can fast track the FTA through the coalition of the willing”, he said.

Mwencha called for unity of purpose adding that no member state should remain behind when the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) starts.

And Chairperson for AU High Level Trade Committee (HATC) and Ghana’s Republican President, John Dramani Mahama disclosed that the Tripartite Free Trade Area will be launched in June 2015.

Mahama said between now and the launch, there was need to work hard to achieve the dream of our forefathers to attain African unity.

Source: COMESA

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