The Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) is a draft free trade agreement between the Common Market for East Africa and South Africa (COMESA), the Southern African Development Community (CDAA) and the East African Community (EAC).  The comesA-EAC-SADC tripartite free trade agreement aims to create the tripartite free trade area and implement the customs union of the 26 Member States. Acuerdo Tripartito COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Agreement COMESA-EAC-SADC Acordo Tripartido COMESA-EAC-SADC Namibia is the latest to ratify the TFTA Convention and today the country`s High Commissioner in Zambia, Siyave Haindongo, transferred the ratification instrument to the Chair of the Tripartite Task Force Chilehe Kapwep, Secretary of The Committee on The Committee on the The texts of the free trade agreement are here: www.tralac.org/resources/by-region/comesa-eac-sadc-tripartite-fta.html. The tripartite free trade agreement brings together 28 member countries of COMESA, the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The member countries of the comesA-EAC-SADC tripartite free trade agreement are: Briefing by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Mr Wamkele Mene, DTI Chief Director: Africa Economic Relations, said that the tripartite free trade area (TFTA) was launched in June 2015. Negotiations on the TFTA agreement were concluded in May 2017. SA signed the TFTA agreement through Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies in July 2017. Of the 26 Member States, 22 have signed the TFTA agreement. The TFTA agreement would enter into force after ratification by 14 Member States. To date, only two Member States, Egypt and Uganda, have ratified the TFTA agreement.
The TFTA was based on a development integration programme combining market integration, industrial development and infrastructure development. The TFTA agreement would facilitate, among other things, the harmonisation of Member States` trade regimes and allow operators to move freely for limited periods of time. The request for ratification concerned only the element of trade liberalization of the TFTA agreement. The elements of industrial development and infrastructure development have not been ratified. Among the potential benefits of the TFTA agreement for its SA was access to new and dynamic markets, with some TFTA countries among the continent`s fastest growing economies and the potential for industrial development, investment and job creation. The TFTA would also boost intra-regional trade. But there were also potential threats to his SA that needed to be careful. These included trans-border imports, i.e.
imports from third-party companies with access through neighbouring countries, and dumping of poor quality products in South African markets. Steps have been taken to mitigate potential threats. This included effective cooperation in the area of customs, as handling would compromise regional production capacity and benefits for all participating countries. In addition, agreed rules of origin have been applied to ensure preferential access to products that comply with the rules. The statistics provided showed that SA`s trade with TFTA countries accounted for 16% of its SA`s trade with the world. In 2017, total trade with TFTA countries was $27.6 billion. As soon as the TFTA agreement comes into force, the DTI will ask the South African Tax Service (SARS) to introduce preferential tariff treatment. All signatory countries would apply similar procedures to give preferential treatment to South African exports. The TFTA had been used as a basis for participating in the ongoing negotiations on the free trade agreement on the African continent.
The ratification of the TFTA agreement would send a strong signal for the commitment to regional integration. Ms. M. Dikgale (ANC, Limpopo) welcomed the fact that a great deal of research had been carried out on the TFTA agreement, as shown in the Committee`s documents.