From BUSINESS DAILY
Kenya could soon start exporting its goods from the East African Community (EAC) market with the implementation of a tripartite deal expected to be implemented in March this year.
The Free Trade Pact, which brings together three regional economic blocs – the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa), the EAC and the South African Development Community – was discussed seven years ago.
However, it stalled after failing to reach the required number of member states to ratify it before implementation.
Christopher Onyango, director of trade and customs at the Comesa Secretariat, said achieving the tripartite dream is a complex process that will require a lot of commitment, including financial resources, but pointed out that at least three of the members have yet to ratify , had indicated their willingness.
“The integration negotiations are a complex process that requires resources and capacity,” Mr Onyango said.
“We expect to reach the minimum threshold of 14 by March and the signal we’re getting is that the countries that have yet to sign the trade deal are moving towards ratification.”
Ratified Trade Agreement
Currently, only 11 member states, including Kenya, have ratified the agreement with Tanzania, South Africa, Mauritius and the Democratic Republic of the Congo yet to sign this trade agreement.
Mohamed Abdallah, chairman of the tripartite committee, said it was a lengthy process, with each country first having to go through a lengthy internal process before being ratified.
The agreement aims to boost intra-regional trade and improve regional and continental integration between the different economic blocs as it seeks to remove both tariff and non-tariff barriers to trade.
Several rounds of negotiations took place over five years, with the tripartite Council of Ministers having previously set April 2019 as the deadline for member states to ratify the agreement.
The tripartite Free Trade Zone, established in June 2015 in Sharm-El-Sheikh, Egypt, advocates integration based on the regional integration development approach, based on the three pillars: market integration, industrial development and infrastructure development.
For example, many member states in the proposed free trade area have a narrow manufacturing base and export few primary commodities.
The three-pronged model aims to ensure that the right raw materials are produced and offered competitively on the market.