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What are the prospects and challenges of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area?

Akademische Arbeit 2017 18 Seiten

Politik - Internationale Politik - Thema: Globalisierung, pol. Ökonomie


Hailed by Dr. Calestous Juma and Dr. Francis Mangeni “as the most significant event in Africa since the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU)” the T–FTA is understood by many to be a vital step towards establishing the African Economic Community (AEC) (Dari, 2015: 38; Juma & Mangeni, 2015). If successfully ratified and implemented the T–FTA would see the merging of Africa’s thee largest and most successful regional economic communities (REC) – SADC, COMESA and EAC. Consequently, the T–FTA would cover approximately 632 million Africans have a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of between $1.3- $1.6 trillion and a land area that could fit both the United States and China. Undoubtedly, a successfully implemented T–FTA would unleash Africa’s anaemic intra-regional trade level which remains stagnant at 12% (Juma & Mangeni, 2015). Increasing Africa’s intra-regional trade is regarded as a pivotal part of developing its underdeveloped and disconnected economies. Considering the T–FTA’s potential it is hard not to see Juma’s and Mangeni’s point. However, others are not as expectant. Reflecting on how the T–FTA has repeatedly missed its deadlines and considering the varying degrees of failure African regionalism has had in cases such as SADC, COMESA and EAC, it is evident that the T–FTA has a long and uncertain road ahead.
Therefore, to comprehensively discuss and evaluate T–FTA’s potential this essay looks at Africa’s history of regional integration (RI). To do so it begins by defining and contextualising RI, regionalisation and regionalism in Africa. The essay then deliberates over ‘new’ regionalism’s variants in Africa, discerning that the T–FTA and its RECs represent ‘open’ regionalism’s clear dominance. Subsequently, the discussion analyses the ‘episodes’ of African regionalism to contextualise COMESA’s, SADC’s and EAC creation and enable an insight into Africa’s integration track record. Thus highlighting the T–FTA’s context and viability. Following this, the essay unpacks the T–FTA’s raison dêtre and then discusses the views on its, potential, progress and challenges. Ultimately, this critical appraisal of the T–FTA serves to not only understand the actualities of Africa’s largest ongoing attempt at RI, but to also show that scholars of African regionalism must strive away from Afro-optimism and Afro-pessimism towards what Mo Ibrahim calls Afro-realism.


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University of Cape Town
Africa regionalism regional intergration political economy




Titel: What are the prospects and challenges of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area?