Adopting a Harmonized Regional Approach to Customs Regulation for the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement

©2017 Textbook 111 Pages


The three regional economic communities (RECs) in Eastern and Southern Africa are the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Together, they have recognised the need to work towards regional cooperation aimed at the eventual creation of a single regional economic community or Tripartite Free Trade Agreement (TFTA). This will replace the existent RECs in Eastern and Southern Africa to which the member states of these two regions have multiple membership. The TFTA region comprises a total of 27 member states which have a combined population of 527 million people and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of USD 624 billion. These statistics translate into a potential regional economic powerhouse for Eastern and Southern Africa.
One of the major goals of the TFTA is to harmonise trade arrangements among the three RECs, improve the movement of goods and persons within the single integrated region, facilitate the joint implementation of regional infrastructure projects and enhance co-operation of member states. This is a laudable initiative by the member states of the three RECs and it is recognised that regional integration is the first step towards integration into a multilateral trading system. For the TFTA member states, it is crucial that there is an awareness to move towards a review of domestic customs legislation and policy and to develop regional, supranational legislation and regulations in order to gain a stronger competitive edge in the global market.
This study shies away from proposing a „quick fix‟ or „instant benefit‟ to the harmonisation of TFTA member states customs legislative frameworks and policies and the development of a single automated, interoperable electronic customs system. Rather, it places its focus on long-term sustainable benefits which will be realised over time. The harmonisation of TFTA member state customs legislative policies and the resultant Information and Communications Technology (ICT) reforms to the customs processes of the TFTA member states, though not immediate or short-term, will strategically position the region to conduct business in an increasingly volume driven, fast paced, electronic global economy.


Type of Edition
ISBN (Softcover)
File size
866 KB
Institution / College
University of the Western Cape
Publication date
2017 (September)
International Trade Law Regional Integration Single Window SADC Customs Africa Southern Africa trade REC TFTA Tripartite Free Trade Agreement regional economic communities Eastern Africa COMESA

Title: Adopting a Harmonized Regional Approach to Customs Regulation for the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement