Trading blocs mute FTA plan

comesa_logoBULAWAYO - Three regional trading blocs of Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) plan to launch a Free Trade Area in 2012.

“The Tripartite FTA will be underpinned by robust infrastructure programs designed to consolidate the regional market through interconnectivity,” reads part of the latest report by Comesa.

The main proposal is to establish the FTA on a tariff-free, quota-free, exemption and coordination of industrial and health standards, combating of unfair trade practices and import surges.

At their meeting on November 9, 2009 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, the Chief Executives of the three secretariats cleared the proposal for transmission to the member states for consideration in preparing for the next meeting of the Tripartite Summit.

It is expected that when the Tripartite Summit meets, in April or May 2010, the Heads of State and Government will clearly pronounce themselves on the free basis by simply combining the existing FTAs of COMESA, EAC and SADC.

“It is expected that by 2012, all these FTAs will not have any exemptions or sensitive lists,” said Comesa.

The trading blocs also hope to set up common dispute settlement mechanisms, use of simpler and straightforward rules of origin that recognise inland transport costs as part of the value added in production, relaxation of restrictions on movement of business persons taking into account certain sensitivities, liberalisation of certain priority service sectors on the basis of existing programs of the three organisations, promotion of value addition and transformation of the region into an information and knowledge-based economy.

There is a possibility that a few countries might wish to consider maintaining a few sensitive products in trading with some big partners, and for this reason, provision has been made for the possibility of a country requesting for permission to maintain some sensitive products for a specified period of time.

Post published in: Economy

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