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On the 10th of June 2015 the heads of state of three Regional Economic Communities in Africa, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC), signed a declaration launching the biggest Free Trade Area (FTA) in Africa as well as opening a Tripartite FTA Agreement (The Agreement) for signature. The Tripartite FTA has the potential to open up a market comprising more than half the population of Africa with a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of USD 1.3 Trillion as at 2014 which was roughly 58 % of Africa’s GDP.
Regional integration has largely been embraced in Africa as a means to realise economic development and sustainable growth. The formalisation by the Member States of the EAC, COMESA and SADC of the Agreement is therefore highly laudable. However, though the Tripartite FTA presents an opportunity to set in motion the establishment of a Continental FTA and the eventual establishment of an African Economic Community, the reality is that there are considerable challenges that need to be overcome before the Tripartite FTA can be actualised.
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Erasmus G (2013) The Agreement preceding the agreement: how the negotiating principles decided the Tripartite FTA game plan, Chapter 2. In: Hartzenberg T et al (eds) Cape to Cairo: Exploring the Tripartite FTA agenda, tralac, Stellenbosch, http://www.tralac.org/publications/article/5548-cape-to-cairo-exploring-the-tripartite-fta-agenda.html
Sherwood M (2012) Pan-African Conferences, 1900–1953: what did ‘Pan-Africanism’ mean? JPan African Stud 4(10):106–126, http://www.jpanafrican.com/docs/vol4no10/4.10Pan-African.pdf
- The Tripartite Free Trade Area: A Step Closer to the African Economic Community?
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