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South Africa has become the 19th country to sign an agreement establishing the African Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA).
The TFTA is a planned integrated market of 26 African countries with a combined population of 625 million people and a total gross domestic product of US$1.6 trillion.
South Africa signed the agreement in Kampala, Uganda, during the recent meeting of the Tripartite Sectoral Ministers' Committee.
The meeting was attended by representatives from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the East African Community, and Southern African Development Community.
When it comes into force, the agreement will reduce tariffs on goods traded between member countries and create new opportunities for exports and regional value chains.
Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies said the TFTA was an important step towards meaningful intra-Africa trade.
“The conclusion of these negotiations will be another important step forward in the process,” Minister Davies said.
“It will provide commercial benefits to our business people by enabling them to trade products between Southern African Customs Union and East African Community countries at a reduced or zero tariff.”