Prospects and Challenges in the Formation of the COMESA-EAC and SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area

"The stalemate of the multilateral trade system in addressing key trade and trade related issues over the years have mounted pressure on World Trade Organisation (WTO) member states to search for alternative solutions. This pressure has directed countries’ attention and efforts towards bilateral and regional trade arrangements as an immediate intervention to resolve some of the stagnated issues at the multilateral level. Despite the pressure and the hurry for regional trade liberalization,concluding a comprehensive agreement both at bilateral, regional and multilateral negotiations remains complex to achieve given the existence of varying economic divergences among countries. With regard to the proposed tripartite Free Trade Area (T-FTA) among COMESA-EAC and SADC member states, it is one among the many regional economic communities (RECs) that have emerged over the years. This paper tries to examine some of the complexities and inter-linkages in reaching a tripartite free trade agreement in services and goods, as well as infrastructure development."