Parliament Briefed on Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement

Department of Trade and Industry

The select committee on trade and international relations was recently briefed on the ratification of the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) Agreement.

The TFTA Agreement involving the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the East African Community and the Southern African Development Community was signed by South Africa in 2017.

At this stage, 22 of 26 member states have signed the Agreement but only Egypt and Uganda have ratified it.

The Agreement identifies “inadequate infrastructure and underdeveloped production structures” as key barriers to intra-regional trade rather than tariffs or regulatory barriers.

According to the trade and industry department, the request for ratification “only relates to the trade liberalization element of the agreement.”

The TFTA is designed to create a single market.

Some of the potential benefits for South Africa include access to new and dynamic markets, legal certainty and predictability of the market, legal protections for South African exporters and increased intra-regional trade.

Potential threats include transshipment, dumping of sub-standard goods and non-implementation of commitments by regional partners.

The department emphasized that ratification by South Africa would send a “strong signal of South Africa’s commitment to regional integration.”

The select committee recommended that the National Council of Provinces approve the Agreement.

Sabinet Cape Town Office