The Hub and Spokes programme provides trade experts to national ministries and regional trade organisations in the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of states.
Racheal Kemigisha is a trade adviser working with the Hub and Spokes programme. She is based in Zambia at the Common Market for Eastern Africa, East African Community (COMESA). In this blog Rachael outlines the lessons learnt from negotiations, taking a look at the Tripartite Free Trade Area Agreement.
In 2008, the Heads of State of the Common Market for Eastern Africa, East African Community (COMESA), East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) made the decision to establish a single Free Trade Area, giving rise to the grand project to form the Tripartite Free Trade Area. This decision was both bold and forward-looking. Their ambition was to merge three successful Regional Economic Communities, bringing together 26 countries that represent 54% of the African Union membership, creating a market of 632 million people, with a combined GDP of USD 1.3 trillion as of 2015. The Tripartite FTA will enable the free movement of goods, services and business persons all of which stimulate economic activity in the region thereby improving the lives of ordinary people across the region.
The Tripartite adopted a developmental approach and is anchored on three pillars; Market Integration, Infrastructure Development and Industrial Development. The three REC Secretariats undertook the necessary technical preparation and negotiations were launched in commenced in 2011.
Since 2014 the Hub and Spokes II Programme has contributed to the Tripartite process through technical advisory services delivered by the Trade Adviser. As an adviser I have provided analysis requested by Member States, supported the negotiations on Trade Remedies and Dispute Settlement, the legal review of the Tripartite FTA Agreement and its 10 Annexes and provided technical guidance to higher levels of the Tripartite structures. The technical work I have undertaken in the Tripartite has led to resolving deadlocks in the negotiations, shaping the trade remedies regime and Dispute Settlement Mechanism for the Tripartite and ensuring that the TFTA Agreement in its entirety is legally sound and capable of being interpreted and implemented by Member/Partner States.
Some of the key lessons I have learnt in my role from the Tripartite process negotiations include:
Tripartite Member/Partner States have demonstrated their continued commitment to the grand idea that is the Tripartite FTA. As an adviser in this process, one continues to learn and adjust to the dynamic nature of negotiations ensuring that the technical support provided facilitates the process leading to the realization of the Tripartite FTA.