SADC-EAC-COMESA Tripartite Free Trade Area Legal Texts and Policy Documents



Launch of the Tripartite FTA

The Heads of State and Government of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) met on 10 June, 2015 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt at the Third Tripartite Summit to officially launch the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA). The Agreement initially covered 26 member states across the three RECs, but with the expansion of the EAC to include South Sudan in April 2016, the total number of participating member states has risen to 27.

The Tripartite Summit had given Member States 12 months from the launch of the TFTA to conclude outstanding negotiations issues on rules of origin, trade remedies and tariff offers. However, due to a number of challenges faced in the process, the deadline of June 2016 was not met, and the commencement of Phase II negotiations – covering trade in services and other trade related matters – has been delayed pending the conclusion of negotiations on Phase I issues.

Twenty four of the 27 member states have signed the Declaration; only Libya, Eritrea and South Sudan have yet to sign. The TFTA Agreement has been signed by 22 member countries, namely Angola, Botswana (signed on 30 January 2018), Burundi, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Djibouti, Egypt, Kenya, State of Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The Agreement requires 14 ratifications to enter into force. So far, only three countries have both signed and ratified the Agreement: Kenya (in June 2018), Egypt and Uganda. South Africa has indicated that the TFTA Agreement has been approved for ratification by Parliament.


The member states of COMESA, the EAC and SADC agreed in October 2008 to negotiate a Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA). The COMESA-EAC-SADC Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) underpins the legal and institutional framework for the Tripartite process. A revised Draft Agreement and Annexes were finalised in December 2010, with the text of the Agreement and Annex on Negotiating Principles further revised in June 2011.

  • Memorandum of Understanding on inter-regional cooperation and integration between COMESA, EAC and SADC
  • Draft Agreement Establishing the Tripartite Free Trade Area (June 2011)
    • Annex 1 Negotiating Principles (Revised June 2011)
    • Annex 2 Customs Cooperation
    • Annex 3 Simplification and Harmonisation of Trade Documentation and Procedures
    • Annex 4 Rules of Origin
    • Annex 5 Transit Trade and Transit Facilities
    • Annex 6 Trade Remedies
    • Annex 7 Competition Policy and Consumer Protection
    • Annex 8 Standardisation, Metrology, Conformity Assessment and Accreditation
    • Annex 9 Intellectual Property Rights
    • Annex 10 Movement of Business Persons
    • Annex 12 Trade Development and Competitiveness
    • Annex 13 Tripartite Dispute Settlement Mechanism
    • Annex 14 Non-Tariff Barriers
    • Annex 15 Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures

Note that Annex 11 – tariff liberalization schedules – is still under negotiation. Translations for these documents are not yet available.


On 12 June, 2011, the Heads of State and Government of the three regional economic communities (RECs) met and signed a declaration launching negotiations for the establishment of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Free Trade Area (FTA).

  • Declaration Launching the Negotiations for the Establishment of the Tripartite FTA
  • Roadmap for Establishing the Tripartite FTA 2011-2016
  • Final Communiqué of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit - 22 October 2008
  • Communiqué of the Second COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit
  • Report of the Meeting of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Ministerial Committee in Preparation for the Tripartite FTA Negotiations - 13 May 2011
  • Tripartite Task Force Progress Report on Implementation of Decisions of the First COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summi - 9 May 2011
  • Report of the Seventh Meeting of the Tripartite Sectoral Ministerial Committee - Cape Town, 18 June 2018

Stakeholder Meetings

  • EABC Progress Report on the EAC-COMESA-SADC Tripartite FTA Negotiations – September 2013
  • EABC Update on 1st Private Sector Dialogue on the Tripartite Free Trade Area Rules of Origin – Key recommendations - February 2016
  • Study on the establishment of inter-RECs FTAs in Africa: Final report – UNECA, May 2011

Draft Agreement

The previous Draft TFTA Agreement (revised in December 2010) and Annexes (revised in October 2009) are available below for comparative purposes:

  • Draft Tripartite Agreement
    • Annex 1 Illustrative NTBs
    • Annex 2 Customs Cooperation
    • Annex 3 Simplification and Harmonisation of Trade documentation and Procedures
    • Annex 4 Rules of Origin
    • Annex 5 Transit Trade Facilities
    • Annex 6 Trade Remedies
    • Annex 7 Competition
    • Annex 8 SQAMT
    • Annex 9 SPS Measures
    • Annex 10 (a) IPR Policy
    • Annex 10 (b) Copyrights
    • Annex 11 Business Persons
    • Annex 13 Trade Development and Competitiveness
    • Annex 14 Dispute Settlement

Source: Tralac