BY EABW REPORTER
Lusaka, Zambia–Kenya has today become the first country to deposit its instrument of Ratification of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area.
Kenya’s High Commissioner to Zambia and Malawi and also Permanent Representative to COMESA H.E. Sophie Kombe, presented the instrument to the Chair of the Tripartite Task Force, Mr Sindiso Ngwenya who is the Secretary General of COMESA.
The TFTA, which was launched in June 2015, brings together 27 countries under the three regional economic communities. It requires a minimum of 14 countries to sign and ratify in order to enter into force.
So far 22 countries have signed the TFTA with only five outstanding. Kenya is among three countries that have done both: signed and ratified the TFTA alongside Egypt and Uganda.
Speaking on behalf of the other tripartite partners, EAC and SADC, Mr Ngwenya thanked the government of Kenya for demonstrating leadership not only on the tripartite but also within COMESA and the African Union.
“Kenya has once again demonstrated commitment to regional integration not only in COMESA and the East Africa Community, but also at the African Union where it has equally and signed, ratified and deposited similar instruments to the newly launched Continental Free Trade Area.”
“Kenya was the market leader in regional investments and second to Egypt in intra COMESA trade,” Ngwenya said noting that the country strong manufacturing sector stands to benefit immensely from the reginal trade agreements.
Ambassador Kombe said Kenya has consistently advocated for Intra Africa trade among African countries as it provides provide an expanded market for her manufactured goods, primary goods and services.
She noted: “The three pillars on which the TFTA development agenda is based, which include market integration, infrastructure development, cooperation in industrial development are of great importance to Kenya.”
On 18 June 2018, the Tripartite Ministerial Meeting will take in Cape Town where ministers are expected to give direction and take concrete decisions on the implementation of the TFTA and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area. An overarching imperative in the implementation of the tripartite FTA is political will and leadership to move the process forward.