On 12 June 2011, the members states of three regional economic communities (RECs) of the East Africa Community (EAC), the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) signed an agreement to negotiate the establishment of a tripartite FTA consisting of all threes RECS. The work includes reduction of tariffs and non-tariff barriers from Cape to Cairo. The cost of doing business on the continent is still a major stumbling block because of the poor status of roads, railways and communication lines. The tripartite FTA will require a harmonised legal framework that gives effect to the objectives for deeper integration in the region. This paper is an attempt to unpack the kind of challenges and proposes solutions in the negotiation and establishment of the tripartite FTA. Ultimately, the paper will demonstrate that the cost of non-integration far outweighs the cost of integration.
Keywords: tripartite FTA, regional economic community, REC, integration, harmonisation