Kampala. Intra-regional trade between the East African Community (EAC), Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) has grown threefold in a period of 10 years.
Latest statistics show the combined intra-trade of the three regional economic communities (RECs) for the period 2004 to 2014 grew from $30 billion (about Shs87 trillion) to $102.6 billion (about Shs289.7 trillion).
In this period, Comesa alone recorded growth from $8 billion (about Shs23.2 trillion) to $22 billion (about Shs63.8 trillion). Comesa is made up of Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Egypt, Sudan, Comoros, Djibouti, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Seychelles, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
SADC, on the other hand, registered growth from $20 billion (about Shs58 trillion) to $72 billion (about Shs208.8 trillion). SADC is made of South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, Swaziland Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia
EAC saw its growth in trade grow from $2.6 billion (about Shs7.5 trillion) in 2004 up to $8.6 billion (about Shs24.9 trillion) realised in 2014. Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi make up the EAC.
Giving an update on the Tripartite Free Trade Area negotiations, the Secretary General of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), Mr Sindiso Ngwenya, said: “This growth has taken place on the basis of the individual free trade areas (FTAs) of the three RECs”.
Mr Ngwenya said the establishment of the Comesa-EAC-SADC free trade area will follow the same growth path, however at an accelerated growth pace and, supported by infrastructure and industrialisation programmes.
He proposed for the initiation of negotiations for the establishment of a free trade area between the Tripartite (Comesa-EAC-SADC) on one hand, and the Economic Community of West African States (Ecowas).
“Once this is achieved we shall then focus on the establishment of the African Union continental free trade area,” Mr Ngwenya added.