The East African Community, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the Southern Africa Development Cooperation Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement has not been put into force despite member countries signing it 7 years ago.
According to a document seen by EABW NEWS, the delay in ratification is due to a slow response from member countries that have not yet signed the ratification treaty.
“Most of the remaining countries indicate the process to ratify is still in progress.
“So, the process is on course but the pace is slow,” said Mwangi Gakunga the COMESA Communications Manager.
The EAC-COMESA-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement has a total of 29 member countries representing 53% of the African Union membership and more than 60% of the Africa Continent GDP ($1.88 Trillion) with a population of over 800 million people.
In 2015, 22 of the 29 member countries signed in acceptance of the treaty but only 11 have ratified it.
“For the agreement to go into full force or be implemented, at least 14 member countries have to ratify,” added Gakunga.
The 11 member countries that have ratified are Egypt, Eswatini, South Africa, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Kenya and Zimbabwe.
Three more ratifications are required in order for the agreement to enter into force.
The Tripartite Free Trade Area Area aims at enhancing regional and continental development through market integration, infrastructure development and Industrial development.
Member countries that have not yet ratified for the agreement to go into full force are Lesotho, Angola, Somalia, DR Congo, Tanzania, Malawi, South Sudan, Libya, Ethiopia, Mauritius, Eritrea, Seychelles, Madagascar, Central African Republic, Tunisia, Djibouti, Comoros and Sudan.
When ratified, the TFTA will cure the unending complaints about the country of origin that countries belong to the same blocs but attached to other blocs have over the other member countries.
For example, Kenya, a member of EAC and COMESA has severally blocked the entry of Tanzanian rice on to the Kenyan market reasoning that it’s imported from SADC countries and packaged in Tanzania but not grown there. This has hence created a non tariff barrier in the EAC.