Three Eastern Africa regional business councils have officially formed a continental business council,to spearhead the inclusion of private sector policy proposals into the negotiations of African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement and the African Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA).
Under the name African Tripartite Business Council, the council brings together the East African Business Council (EABC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and Southern African Development Community (SADC).
This formation is one of the resolutions from a Consultative Meeting of Regional Business Councils on the Implementation of the AfCFTA Agreement held in Kigali City on Ausgit 10-11.
“The African Tripartite Business Council will put forward joint private sector policy positions to the AfCFTA Secretariat in Ghana and Tripartite Ministerial Council Meetings in order to accelerate the implementation of the Agreements,” said John Bosco Kalisa, EABC CEO.
Kalisa called upon the Member States from COMESA, EAC and the SADC to ratify the Tripartite Free Trade Area to achieve the threshold of 14 ratifications required to enable the agreement to enter into force.
Currently three of the 16 regional member states have not yet ratified the tripartite agreement.
Dickson Poloji, CEO of COMESA Business Council said, “It is important for the private sector to be knowledgeable of the trade instruments of Rules of Origin, Standards and Dispute Settlement Mechanism under the AfCFTA.”
For Peter Varndell-CEO, SADC Business Council, the African Tripartite Business Council will improve coordination and development of positions on AfTCFA policy formulation and negotiations.
Private business owners like Nadia Uwamahoro, Managing Director, Data Systems urged for the finalization of the AfCFTA protocol on digital trade to promote youths and the emergence of African-owned e-commerce platforms.
Dennis Karera, EABC Vice Chairman said, trading under AfCFTA is the answer for Africa to respond better to external shocks of conflict, Covid-19 and climate change and also a solution to dependence on global importers like Russia.
Dr. Rodgers Mukwaya, UNECA Sub-regional Office for Eastern Africa, said “The COVID pandemic and the Ukraine crisis have disrupted global supply chains. As a result, firms and nations are moving away from global to domestic and regional supply chains. We have to leverage the AfCFTA to create regional value chains.”