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Malawi yet to ratify Tripartite Freedom Trade Area Agreement

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Malawi is among members countries of the Tripartite Freedom Trade Area Agreement (TFTA) that are yet to ratify the agreement for the grand African trade bloc.

The Comesa council of ministers has since urged member states that signed the Comesa – EAC-Sadc Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) agreement to start the process of ratification and those that have not signed to do so.

The Tripartite FTA was launched in June 2015, in Sharm El Shiekh, Egypt, setting the stage for the establishment of a single market for the 26 African countries in the Eastern and Southern African Region.

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Malawi is among the countries that signed but are yet to ratify the agreement to allow its imports and exports start trading under the protocol.

And Comesa said in a statement posted on its website on Tuesday that so far none of the 26 countries in the Comesa, East Africa Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (Sadc) regions have ratified the TFTA and that only 16 have signed it.

Comesa, however, said in the statement that progress has been made in the negotiations process that includes finalising the outstanding work in Phase I relating to rules of origin, elimination of import duties and trade remedies.

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“Negotiations continue in parallel to Phase II negotiations covering trade in services, competition policy, intellectual property rights and other trade related issues,” reads the statement in part.

The council also noted that that although the negotiations on the issue of movement of business persons across the borders of the regional countries could not be finalised, it was on course on a separate but parallel track with the Phase II negotiations.

The council has since called on member states to adopt more liberal provisions for the movement of business persons to facilitate trade and investment across borders.

It has also urged Comesa member states to offer the Comesa Free Trade Area tariff concessions to other tripartite member states on reciprocal basis and has since decided that the private sector should take part in the negotiations.

The Comesa council of ministers says it expects countries to finalise Phase I negotiations by June 2016 as decided by the Tripartite Council of Ministers.

During the launch of TFTA, Malawi’s Minister of Industry and Trade Joseph Mwanamvekha said Malawi have to look at a number of issues before ratifying to the agreement and that the process might take longer.

“We do not need to rush. This is a big market and we have to seriously look at all the requirements and make sure that all challenges are addressed,” he said.

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