Wednesday, June 15, 2011

COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit on Grand FTA on 12 June

PRESS RELEASE

26 Heads of State expected to attend the Summit

Chairperson of the EAC Summit to lead EAC Delegation

East African Community Secretariat, Arusha, Tanzania, Friday 10 June 2011: The second COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit is to take place on 12 June 2011 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. Twenty six (26) Heads of State and Government are expected discuss among others the formation of the “Grand” Free Trade Area among the three regional economic communities.

The Chairperson of the EAC Heads of State Summit and President of the Republic of Burundi, President Pierre Nkurunziza is to lead the EAC delegation to the Summit. The Secretary General of the East African Community, Amb. Dr. Richard Sezibera with a team of EAC officials have already arrived in Johannesburg, South Africa in preparation for the Tripartite Summit.

The three RECs; Southern African Development Community, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the East African Community will be meeting to launch negotiations for a Tripartite Free Trade Area.

Spanning the continent from Cape Town to Cairo, the grand FTA will encompass 26 countries with a combined gross domestic product of $860 billion and a combined population of about 590 million people.

The tripartite framework derives its basis from the Lagos Plan of Action and the Abuja Treaty establishing the African Economic Community (AEC). It is a strategic response to the AEC’s objective to rationalize and consolidate existing regional economic communities, with a view to achieving a common market covering the African continent.

Establishing a Grand Free Trade Area among the three RECs is expected to unleash the enormous economic growth and development potential of Africa. Its establishment will mark a historical milestone in the integration of the continent.

The idea of a Grand FTA was given impetus by the first COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit that was held in Kampala, Uganda in October 2008, where the Presidents gave political endorsement to a process envisaged to spur greater cooperation and harmonization of policies by the three RECs.

Notes to Editors

The COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite was established in 2005 with the main objective of strengthening and deepening economic integration of the southern and eastern Africa region. This is being achieved through various initiatives aimed at harmonizing policies and programmes of the three regional economic communities (RECs) in the areas of trade, customs and infrastructure development, and implementing these in a coordinated manner, and wherever possible jointly.

The Tripartite agenda is focused and underpinned by a robust Vision and Strategy which is operationalized through a wide-ranging work programme whose main pillars include:

• harmonization and improvement of functionality of regional trading arrangements and programmes, including establishing a Tripartite Free Trade Area encompassing its 26 member countries, which is a major step towards the realization of the African Economic Community;

• enhancement of trade facilitation to improve the flow of goods along transport corridors by lowering transit times and the cost of trading. Significant progress is already being achieved on the North South Corridor which has been implemented as a pilot since 2007;

• joint planning and implementation of infrastructure programmes which mainly comprise of surface (road, rail, border posts, seaports) and air transport, ICT and energy. Enhancing physical interconnectivity through infrastructure development and improving operational efficiencies of border crossings and seaports are important factors in speeding up economic development and facilitating and expanding inter-regional trade, as well as trade with the rest of the world; and

• free movement of business persons within the Tripartite region to facilitate the conduct of business

• The Tripartite is also addressing challenges of overlapping membership through harmonizing programmes across the three RECs.

For more information on the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite framework visit: www.rectripartite.org