Tuesday, October 12, 2010

SA to study SADC, Comesa, EAC free-trade area

Edited by: Mariaan Webb - Creamer Media Reporter

The Fund for Research into Industrial Development, Growth and Equity (Fridge) has called for consultants to conduct a study into the potential of the establishment of the proposed Free Trade Area (FTA) between the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

Prospective consultants had until November 1 to submit proposals to the Industrial Development Community (IDC) to participate in conducting the study, which would inform South Africa’s approach to the formation of the FTA.

The study was expected to provide proposals on the required “building blocks” and the sequencing of processes for the establishment of the tripartite FTA.

Particularly, it would have to look at how the existing gaps in terms of the legal and institutional frameworks could be closed.

The study would also provide an analysis of the trade flow among the regional economic communities, as well as for each country, for the past three years.

Also, it would evaluate the tariff commitments of Comesa and the EAC to all third parties, assess tariff barriers of Comesa and the EAC countries and identify product lines of interest to South Africa.

The consultants would further be required to assess the impact of a possible FTA on South Africa’s industry and jobs, as well as whether it would be advisable for South Africa, the Southern African Customs Union and SADC to enter into the proposed FTA.

This would also entail an assessment of how the FTA would conform with South African policy positions, including the new Industrial Policy Action Plan, and the newly-agreed Trade Policy and Strategy Framework.

The proposed FTA, which would comprise 26 countries in east and southern Africa, was expected to be established by 2012.

The appointed consultant would have four months to complete the study.

Fridge is a project of the National Economic, Development and Labour Council’s Trade and Industry Chamber, is funded by the Department of Trade and Industry and is administered by the IDC.