COMESA-EAC-SADC meet in Mauritius to shape trade in Africa
The aim is to allow member countries to reach a larger market with a single economic space and make it more attractive for investments and large scale production. (Image: GIS, Mauritius)
Mauritius is playing host to a landmark meeting of the COMESA, EAC and SADC, which aims to achieve the dream of borderless trading across their member nations, if not all of Africa, by establishing an enlarged Free Trade Area.
This would allow member countries to reach a larger market with a single economic space and make it more attractive for investments and large scale production.
This is the third tripartite summit of the three overarching Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in Eastern and Southern Africa – the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC) and Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
The four-day meeting is currently underway at the Le Méridien, Pointe-aux-Piments, to which Trade Minister Arvin Boolell has invited 100 trade and custom experts from 26 member states across the three RECs.
Peter Kiguta, East African Community Director General for Customs and Trade Directorate, is also participating in the landmark trade event.
This meeting is in accordance with the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area. In June 2011, South Africa played host to the second tripartite summit, which was focused on the launching of tripartite negotiations over the Free Trade Area (FTA).
Regional integration programmes in trade and economic development are implemented by the RECs, covering the establishment of FTA, Customs Unions, Monetary Union and Common Markets.
Regional infrastructure development programmes in transport, information communications technology, energy and civil aviation are also undertaken as a first step towards realizing continental integration.
After discussions based on modalities of the negotiations, member states are now centering on negotiating the draft Tripartite FTA text as well as its annexes.
Some 6,000 products will be covered in the Tripartite FTA. Despite the fact that most products will be covered under existing rules of COMESA, SADC and EAC, some products will be subjected to “specific rule to each product” depending on the outcome of the negotiations.
Discussions on criteria that would qualify a product to be considered as originating from the tripartite region are pursued by the present Technical Working Group on Rules of Origin in Mauritius. The discussions center on the level of processing in various products, type of ownership and operation of vessels and factory ships.