Southern African Development Community (SADC) council members has implored member states that have not yet ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa-East African Community-SADC (Comesa-EAC-Sadc) Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) to do so to allow for the execution of the agreements.
AfCFTA commenced on 1 January this year with the intention of progressively ramping up trade in Africa, however, the volume of trade covered by the agreement’s rules of origin reported so far is lower than expected.
The Comesa-EAC-SADC TFTA, the regional leaders underscored the signing and ratification is fundamental as it will pave the way for the lucrative implementation of the AfCFTA.
The request follows a recent virtual SADC Council meeting, which was chaired by Mozambican Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Minister, Verónica Nataniel Macamo Dlhovo, in her capacity as the chairperson of the council.
The meeting observed that there were slow submissions of offers and requests of schedule of commitments, which had delayed the start-up phase of the negotiations.
Regional ministers have since called for urgent action by member states towards settlement of negotiations on rules of origin on some sensitive tariff lines and agreement on some customs documentations, and accession to AfCFTA by SADC member states, including those participating in the customs unions.
In an outcome statement, SADC council remarked that 22 Comesa-EAC-SADC member states have signed the TFTA Agreement while 10 have ratified the agreement
“Of the 10, member states, five are SADC member states (Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia, South Africa and Zambia). Article 39(3) of the TFTA Agreement provides for the agreement to enter into force upon ratification by 14 member states.
“This means an additional four ratifications are required for the agreement to enter into force,” read the statement.
To date, a total of 33 countries have signed the protocol and eight of these are SADC member states, namely Zimbabwe, Angola, Comoros, DRC, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique and Tanzania.
The Council of Ministers endorsed the SADC common position on the negotiations of the protocol to the treaty establishing the African Economic Community relating to the free movement of persons, right of residence and right of establishment.
The AfCFTA is about surmounting greater heights, set sights on vaster markets past the local space. In the view of the fact that trading under the compliant terms of AfCFTA, the free trade area prefigures a new chapter of cooperation through trade to drive economic and social transformation
The TFTA on one hand strives to develop the economic and social welfare of the citizens of the Comesa-EAC-SADC region through the stimulation of regional economic growth by creating an enabling environment for regional trade.
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