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Africa’s 'grand' FTA negotiation progressing well: SADC officials

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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Africa’s 'grand' FTA negotiation progressing well: SADC officials

Negotiations to set up a grand free trade zone encompassing 26 countries in eastern and southern Africa are progressing well and may be completed in 2015, a year before schedule, officials with Southern African Development Community (SADC), one of the three participating regional blocs, have revealed. The Tripartitie Free Trade Agreeement (Tripartitie FTA), being negotiated among SADC, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), and East African Community (EAC), is expected to benefit 600 million people in 26 African countries, or half of the African Union (AU) members, with a combined domestic product of about 1 trillion U.S. dollars. Once in effect, the tripartite FTA will create Africa’s largest integrated market so far.
According to a roadmap adopted by COMESA-EAC-SADC in 2011, the FTA was initially expected to come into force by 2016. Negotiation for the second of the three phrases is about to start and will focus on issues like trade in services and trade-related issues such as intellectual property rights, competition policy and trade development and competitiveness. Parties are wrapping up the first phrase talks which touch "core FTA issues" such as tariff liberalization, rules of origin, customs procedures and simplification of customs documentation, transit procedures, non-tariff barriers, trade remedies and other technical barriers to trade and dispute resolution, according to the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), a regional research body.

Source: bilaterals.org