South Africa has become a signatory to the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA). Launched in June 2015, the TFTA represents an integrated market of 26 countries with a combined population of 625 million people and a total gross domestic product (GDP) of $1.6 trillion.

South Africa joins Free Trade AreaOnce implemented, the agreement will see a reduction in the tariffs on goods traded between the tripartite countries, and will create new opportunities for exports as well as regional value chains. South Africa is 19th country to sign the agreement. The agreement will enter into force once 14 countries have submitted their instrument of rectification.

According to the Department of Trade and Industry, South Africa did not sign the agreement at its inception as there was still “outstanding work” in some of the annexures to the agreement. All the annexures have now been completed and adopted by the tripartite Sectoral Ministers Committee, enabling South Africa to sign the agreement.

Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies says that South Africa has been a champion of the tripartite process from the beginning and committed to the process. “We are pleased to be in a position to sign the agreement. While the outstanding annexures were being finalised, South Africa, as part of Southern African Customs Union (SACU), participated in the negotiations to finalise the bilateral tariffs commitments.”

He adds that tariff negotiations between SACU and Eastern Africa Community (EAC) are very near to conclusion. “The conclusion of these negotiations will be another important step forward in the process, since it will provide commercial benefits to our business people by enabling them to trade products between SACU and EAC countries at a reduced or zero tariff,” he explains.

The agreement was signed in Kampala, Uganda, during a meeting of the tripartite Sectoral Ministers Committee. The meeting was attended by trade ministers and officials from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), EAC, and Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Image Credit Flickr/GovernmentZAhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/governmentza/25857975565


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