Malawi and other 25 countries that make up the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) are yet to ratify the Free Trade Agreement nine months after the member states launched the free trade area in the Egyptian city of Sharma el Sheikh.
The Sixth Extra Ordinary meeting of Comesa Ministers in Lusaka, Zambia held earlier this month found that since the launch of the TFTA in June 2016, 16 out of the 26 countries had signed the agreement but that none of the tripartite countries have ratified the agreement.
Those that have signed include Angola, Burundi, Comoros, D R Congo, Djibout i , Egypt, Kenya, Malawi, Namibia, Seychelles, Rwanda, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.
South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, Madagascar, Mauritius, Libya, Lesoth, Eritrea Ethiopia and Botswana are yet to sign the agreement.
Stretching from Cape to Cairo, the Tripartite encompasses Africa’s three regional trading blocs; the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) and is arguably Africa’s largest trading economic bloc with a combined Gross Domestic Product of US$1.3 trillion.
While the Tripartite FTA is expected to become a major boost to intra-regional trade in the Africa region, the agreement will only enter into force after ratification by at least 14 member states.
A statement from Comesa has since asked member states, including Malawi, to expedite the conclusion of the outstanding negotiation issues covering tariff offers, trade remedies and rules of origin within the next 12 months as was initially agreed when launching the agreement.