"The 26 member states of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) plan to begin negotiations soon on the creation of a single ‘Tripartite’ free trade area. These discussions, which will include trade in services, have the potential to transform the continent’s economic profile. With regards to trade in goods, the intention is to free all regional trade within a three-year period. In services, however, early indications are that the ‘no risk, no benefit’ stance of SADC and COMESA has prevailed over the more ambitious approach of the EAC. The purpose of this policy briefing is to describe what is planned, what is likely to happen and what this might mean for providers and buyers of services in Africa"