The Tripartite of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) on 8th June, 2021 held its 33rd meeting of the Tripartite Task Force (TTF).
During the meeting, the Executive Secretary of SADC, Her Excellency, Dr. Stergomena Lawrence Tax, handed over the rotational Chairpersonship of the Tripartite Task Force to the Secretary General of EAC, Dr. Peter Mutuku Mathuki. The Executive Secretary also congratulated H.E. Dr. Mathuki on his recent appointment as Secretary General of the EAC and welcomed him to the Tripartite family.
H.E. Dr Tax expressed gratitude to the Secretaries General of COMESA and EAC and the technical teams from the Secretariats of COMESA, EAC and SADC for the cooperation, support and dedication which enabled the Tripartite Task Force to register significant milestones notwithstanding the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
She indicated that, while a number of Member/Partner States that have ratified the Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement (TFTA) increased from six to 10 during her tenure as Chairperson of the Tripartite Task Force, there is need to continue encouraging the outstanding Member/Partner States to fast-track the ratification of TFTA Agreement in order to reach the threshold of 14 Member/Partner States required for the Agreement to enter into force. She stressed the importance of the TFTA as a stepping stone for the implementation of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfFCTA). So far Egypt, Eswatini, Kenya, South Africa, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda, Botswana, Namibia and Zambia have ratified the TFTA Agreement.
In addition to the approval of Harmonised Tripartite Guidelines on Trade and Transport Facilitation Guidelines for Safe, Efficient and Cost-Effective Movement of Goods and Services during the COVID-19 pandemic; other milestones attained during SADC’s tenure as Chair of the Tripartite Task Force include Draft Tripartite Agreement on Movement of Business Persons; Draft Annex 1 on Elimination of Import Duties to the Agreement Establishing a TFTA Agreement; Draft Annex II on Trade Remedies to TFTA Agreement; Draft Annex IV on Rules of Origin to the TFTA Agreement, and Draft Annex X on Dispute Settlement Mechanism to the TFTA Agreement; Vehicle Load Management Agreement; Multilateral Cross Border Road Transport Agreement; Vehicle Load Management Model Law; Cross Border Road Transport Model Law; Road Traffic Model Law; Road Traffic and Transport Transgressions Model Law; and Transport of Dangerous Goods by Road Model Law. These Legal instrument will be presented to Council during its next meetings, and are expected to facilitate effective operationalisation of the TFTA.
In his remarks, after taking over the Chairpersonship of the Tripartite Taskforce, H.E. Dr Mathuki reaffirmed EAC’s commitment to carrying forward the work initiated by the outgoing Tripartite Task Force Chairperson by, among others, mobilising outstanding Member/Partner States to ratify the Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement and the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement so as to achieve a united and integrated Africa in which goods and services move seamlessly across the continent.
The main objective of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite is to strengthen and deepen economic integration of the southern and eastern Africa region through joint planning, design, coordination, and implementation of joint policies and programmes across the three Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in the areas of trade, customs and infrastructure development, and industrialisation. The Tripartite provides a platform to address overlapping REC memberships.
In addition to the SADC Executive Secretary and EAC Secretary General, the 33rd Tripartite Taskforce meeting was attended by the Secretary General of COMESA, Her Excellency Chileshe Kapwepwe, and Directors, Senior Officials and Technical Experts from the COMESA, EAC and SADC Secretariats.