The stage is set for the launch of Africa’s first Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) next week, which is set to create the continent’s largest economic bloc.
The Free Trade Area will be launched at the 3rd Summit of the Tripartite Heads of State and Government in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm El Sheikh on Wednesday.
The Tripartite consists of 26 States that are members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
According to COMESA, preparations to launch the Grand Free Trade Area bringing together half of the African continent into one common market are complete.
The Tripartite Free Trade Area (FTA) will be the largest economic bloc on the continent with a combined population of 625 million people and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $1,2 trillion.
It will account for half of the membership of the African Union and 58 percent of the continent’s GDP. The launch of the TFTA sets the stage for the establishment of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) in 2017. Technical teams that have been working on the TFTA negotiations started arriving at the venue yesterday for pre-summit meetings that will prepare the ground for the launch.
They include the Tripartite Committee of Senior Officials and the Council of Ministers whose meetings will take place on 7 and 8 June respectively.