KAMPALA, October 22 – The first ever Tripartite Summit of Eastern and Southern Africa Economic blocks ended in Kampala Wednesday with a resolve that the three Regional Economic Blocks start working towards a merger into a single Economic Powerhouse.
The merger of COMESA, EAC, and SADC would have the objective of fast tracking the attainment of the African Economic Community, according to a dispatch by the Presidential Press Service.
Citing the objectives of the African Union to accelerate economic integration in the continent, towards achieving economic growth, reducing poverty and attaining sustainable economic development, the tripartite summit directed a ‘Tripartite Task Force’ to develop a roadmap for implementing the merger, and this will considered at their next meeting.
The summit agreed on a programme to harmonise trading agreements within the three regional economic blocks, free movement of business persons, joint implementation of inter-regional infrastructure programmes as well as institutional arrangements, which the three blocks would use to foster cooperation.
In a joint communiqué read by the Secretary General of East Africa Community Ambassador Juma Mwapachu, the Tripartite Summit approved the expeditious establishment of a Free Trade Area (FTA), encompassing the member States of the three Regional economic blocks, with the ultimate goal of establishing a single Customs Union.
The summit directed the three economic bodies to undertake a study incorporating among other things, “development of a roadmap within six months for the establishment of the FTA, which would take into account the principle of variable geometry among other legal and institutional frameworks to underpin it”.
The meeting also directed that the study report be presented to a specially convened Tripartite Council for consideration within twelve months, so that among other things a time frame for establishing a single FTA is determined.
Meanwhile, the Tripartite Summit reviewed progress in the implementation of joint infrastructure programmes by the three trading blocks and launched the Joint Competition Authority on Air Transport Liberalisation, which would oversee the full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision on Air Transport in the three regional trading blocks by January 2009.
The summit noted with great concern the current global financial crisis undermining the economic stability of the world, and said it posed a serious threat to the growth of African markets.
With this in mind, the Summit called for “collective action to help African and other developing nations address the adverse impact of the financial crisis”.
The three-way summit further agreed to make strategic interventions to exploit the potential of Africa economies in producing food and enhancing market accessibility, to mitigate the current food crisis.