Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Cabinet has given its go ahead for the tabling of the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement (TFTA) in Parliament.

The plan for the agreement was announced in 2008 and negotiations started a few years later.

The agreement establishes a common market of 26 states in eastern and southern Africa, which are members of the East African Community, the Southern African Development Community (Sadac) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa).

Trade Law Centre (Tralac) associate Gerhard Erasmus said the Cabinet decision was an important step in the finalisation of this new African trade arrangement, which would liberalise trade in goods between the states involved.

"It may also provide additional impetus for the establishment of the continental free trade area," he said.

Tralac executive director Trudi Hartzenberg said the TFTA would open up significant market opportunities for SA in Kenya and Egypt in particular.

"The TFTA is a key Africa-led project that marks a decisive step to overcome the continent’s colonial heritage of small fragmented markets by promoting intra-African investments and attracting more foreign investments into the free trade area" Communications Minister Nomvula Mokonyane said at a post-Cabinet briefing on Thursday.

"As a result of regional integration efforts and stable economies, there has been strong growth in intra-African investors," the minister said.