East African Community member states have concluded talks with their counterparts in the Southern African region regarding among others bilateral tariff liberalization.
The negotiations which have been ongoing since 2015 are part of the market integration pillar, under the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), that was launched with hope to establish a single market for 27 African countries.
The combined population of the countries is about 700 million people (57% of Africa’s population), and have a Gross Domestic Product above USD 1.4 trillion.
The TFTA is built on three pillars (market integration, infrastructure development and industrial development) and there is a parallel agreement on movement of business persons.
The EAC Secretariat yesterday announced that the market access negotiations that have been ongoing between the Southern Africa Customs Union (SACU), and the EAC “have largely been successfully concluded.”
The SACU bloc consists of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa, while the EAC consists of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.
The secretariat says conclusion of the SACU-EAC negotiations marks a significant step towards realizing the benefits of the TFTA.
“The main aim of the SACU-EAC market access negotiations has always been to provide commercially meaningful market access for the private sector in the two regions,” the statement read.
“The SACU-EAC private sector will thus have access to new and dynamic markets for exports as well as new sources of inputs for domestic production processes, thereby enhancing intra-regional trade.”
“The conclusion of the negotiations provides an opportunity for the TFTA to be a building block and to have a coordinated approach for negotiations in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).”