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APM signs Tripartite Free Trade Area agreement

Written by  Sarah Munthali

Heads of State and Government of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) East African Community (EAC) and Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) on Wednesday launched a Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) aimed at bolstering intra-regional trade by creating a wider market, and increased investment flows.

President Mutharika signs the agreement President Mutharika signs the agreement

President Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika signed the trade deal and attended the launch in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.


The TFTA is also expected to enhance competitiveness and encourage regional infrastructure development and pioneer the integration of the African continent.


The TFTA represents an integrated market of 26 countries with a combined population of 632 million with a total gross domestic product (GDP) of US$1.3 Trillion.


The Tripartite FTA also offers opportunities for business and investment within the Tripartite and would help attract foreign direct investment into the region.


Speaking during the official launch ceremony the Chairperson of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit, Ethiopian Prime Minister Ato Hailemariam Desalegn said for the TFTA to be efficient there is need for peace and security in the region.


“Political unrest, civil wars, terrorism are a detrimental element to achieving a successful meaningful and conducive environment for investment,” he said.


He also said the elimination of trade barriers would boost productivity capacity of industries in the region.


Malawi’s Minister of Trade and Industry Joseph Mwanamveka said though Malawi has signed the trade deal, it would implement the TFTA when it has addressed some issues such as tariffs.

Chairperson of the COMESA-SADC-EAC Tripartite Free Trade Area Task Force, Sindiso Ngwenya called on countries who have signed the trade agreement to ensure that they implement the accord and not just sign on paper.


“Some member states have not completely liberalized free movement of business persons, this would require governments commitment otherwise this would make the tripartite region, a region with thick borders,” Ngwenya added.


The launching of the Tripartite Free Trade Area is the first phase of implementing a developmental regional integration strategy that places high priority on infrastructure development, industrialization and free movement of business persons.


The Tripartite initiative is also a step towards establishing the African Economic Unity vision in the resolution of the African Union summit held in Gambia in 2006 that directed the African Union Commission to increase intra Africa trade and investment.


Minister of Trade and Industry Joseph Mwanamveka said the two presidents discussed trade, investment between the two countries and the technical community colleges training in Malawi.

The Malawi leader also met Dr Mukhisa Kituyi the Secretary General of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to discuss financial and trade issues in Malawi.

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