Botswana has signed the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) Agreement which consists of 26 countries of the three Regional Economic Communities of Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Commission (EAC), and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The TFTA Agreement was signed by Botswana’s Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry, Hon. Vincent Seretse on 30th January 2018, at a ceremony in Gaborone, Botswana, which was witnessed by the Secretary General of COMESA, Mr Sindiso Ngwenya, the Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration at the SADC Secretariat, Dr Thembinkosi Mhlongo, and Senior Government Officials and Chief Executives from Business Botswana.
The Secretary General of COMESA and Chair of the Tripartite Task Force, Mr Ngwenya commended the government of Botswana for signing the agreement which he said will not only see the dismantling of trade barriers among the 26 tripartite Member/Partner States, but will pave way to integrating the African continent.
Botswana becomes the 22nd country to append its signature to the agreement which was launched by the Heads of States of the COMESA-EAC-SADC FTA Member States on 10th June, 2015 at Sharm el-Shaik in Egypt. The TFTA aims to boost intra-African trade through the creation of a wider market, increased investment flows, enhanced competitiveness and development of cross-regional infrastructure. The TFTA also serves as a building block for the completion of the Continental Free Trade Area.
Speaking during the signing ceremony, Hon. Seretse outlined veterinary vaccines; pharmaceutical products; electrical and machinery products; plastics products; salt and salt products; carpets and other textiles floor covering as among Botswana’s local products identified as having export potential under the agreement.
Speaking on behalf of the SADC Secretariat, Dr Mhlongo commended the government of Botswana for taking the step to join the Tripartite family which he said has a lot of potential to increase trade in the African continent and accelerate development by creating a huge single market.
“The Tripartite FTA agreement has the potential to boost trade in Africa and accelerate development by creating a huge single market of about 700 million people with an estimated gross domestic product of well over US$1.4 trillion” Dr Mhlongo said.