Move over EU, there’s a new free-trade agreement in town. In a historically unprecedented show of social, political, and economic solidarity, on the 10th of June, the leaders of 26 African nations are set to land in Cairo to sign off on the momentous Tripartite Free Trade Area. You probably haven’t heard of the TFTA; it is essentially Africa’s own, much larger, version of the EU. It is bringing together three smaller trading blocs and amalgamating them into one much larger trading bloc.
The nations participating include Egypt, South Africa, Libya, Sudan, Madagascar and many more. It is predominantly countries in Eastern and Southern Africa.
Signing a free trade agreement bodes well for the ailing continent economically; it involves increased cooperation and deregulation (more trade with each other, decreased/removed taxes, removal of import quotas and tariffs, etc.). It is also a move that is set to strengthen Egypt’s political ties with Nile Basin countries.
Potentially, according to the Brookings Institute, the TFTA’s simultaneous political and economic cooperation will ensure that members of the TFTA are able to utilise economies of scale, capitalise on nearby domestic markets without taxation, and increase general efficiency, as the participating countries learn from the ‘best practices of others’. Interestingly, this move could also herald the end of borders as we understand them in Africa, however it is still unclear whether the TFTA will also allow the free movement of workers. Beyond the boosting of intercontinental trade and accelerating development, the agreement will also attract foreign investment in a more economically stable region.
Intangible pseudo-gobbledygook aside, the agreement will mean that you don’t need a visa needed to visit participating countries, some of which are beautiful holiday destinations – Seychelles, Madagascar, Mauritius and South Africa, to name a few. Yay!
By Roon Nima