Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
THE Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) says implementation of the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement is now in sight following a surge in the number of countries ratifying and set to ratify the pact.
In a statement, Comesa said so far eight countries of the required 14 have ratified the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement (TFTA) with Namibia being the latest.
“The implementation of the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement is now in sight following a spike in the number of countries ratifying and set to ratify the agreement.
“Eight countries have so far ratified the agreement with six remaining to attain the required threshold of 14 for the agreement to come into force.
“Namibia is the latest to ratify the TFTA agreement, and today, the country’s High Commissioner to Zambia Mr Siyave Haindongo deposited the Instrument of Ratification to the chair of the Tripartite Task Force Ms Chileshe Kapwepwe, who is the Secretary of Comesa,” said the trading bloc.
Other countries that have ratified the TFTA are Egypt, Uganda, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda, Burundi and Botswana while Zambia, Comoros, Swaziland, Malawi, Sudan, Tanzania and Zimbabwe are expected to complete the ratification process before the end of the year paving the way for its implementation.
“With the impending ratification by the seven countries, it is my firm belief, that the threshold of 14 ratifications for the TFTA Agreement to enter into force, is now clearly in sight,” Ms Kapwepwe was quoted as saying.
Several rounds of negotiations spanning five years have taken place with the Tripartite Council of Ministers having earlier set April 2019 as the deadline for member/partners States to ratify the agreement.
The TFTA brings together 28 countries that are members of Comesa, the East African Community (EAC) and Sadc.
Launched in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt, in June 2015, the TFTA champions integration is grounded on the developmental approach to regional integration based on the three pillars: market integration, industrial development and infrastructure development.
This approach is borne out of the realisation of the complementarity existing between trade liberalisation, competitive industrial production and infrastructure development.
Implementation of the TFTA is critical in addressing key constraints to trade in the region, namely; the structure of production and the composition of exports in the member/partner States.
For example, many member/partner States in the TFTA have narrow production bases, exporting only a few primary commodities.
Under the tripartite model, the intent is to have the right commodities produced and competitively availed to the market.
In addition, a significant proportion of the States have economies that are resource based with primary commodities accounting for between 40 percent and 90 percent of their total exports.
According to Comesa, this has resulted in an expansive extractive sector in the region, with limited linkages to other sectors of the economies.
This scenario has rendered many of the member/partner States vulnerable to external shocks.
The Tripartite model espouses a value chain approach to exploitation and processing of commodities within the region to address this constraint.
The Tripartite model addresses not only the types of goods to be produced in the region but also the technological content of those goods.
Ms Kapwepwe called upon the rest of the tripartite member/partner States, to demonstrate commitment by ratifying the Agreement so that together the nations can consolidate and enjoy the gains that the TFTA offers. — @okazunga