The First COMESA- EAC - SADC Tripartite Summit was held on 22 October 2008 in Kampala, Uganda at the Commonwealth Resort, Munyonyo, attended by the Heads of State and Government of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
In their Final Communiqué issued at the conclusion of the Tripartite Summit, which was read by the secretary General of the East African Community Ambassador Juma Mwapachu, the Heads of State noted that the Summit was held In pursuit of the broader objectives of the African Union to accelerate economic integration of the continent, with the aim to achieve economic growth, reduce poverty and attain sustainable economic development.
The Tripartite Summit agreed on a programme of harmonization of trading arrangements amongst the three regional economic communities (RECs), free movement of business persons, joint implementation of inter-regional infrastructure programmes as well as institutional arrangements on the basis of which the three RECs would foster cooperation. The Tripartite Summit underscored the fact that the tripartite arrangement is a crucial building block towards achieving the African Economic Community as outlined by the Treaty of Abuja.
Trade, Customs and economic liberalization The Tripartite Summit reviewed the progress on the implementation of joint programmes in trade, customs and economic liberalization amongst the three RECs.
In the area of trade, customs and economic integration, the Tripartite Summit: approved the expeditious establishment of a Free Trade Area (FTA) encompassing the Member/Partner States of the 3 RECs with the ultimate goal of establishing a single Customs Union; and directed the three RECs to undertake a study incorporating, among other things, the development of the roadmap, within 6 months, for the establishment of the FTA which would take into account the principle of variable geometry; the legal and institutional framework to underpin the FTA; and measures to facilitate the movement of business persons across the RECS.
In a major development, the Tripartite Summit resolved that the three RECs should immediately start working towards a merger into a single REC with the objective of fast tracking the attainment of the African economic Community. The Tripartite Summit directed the Tripartite Task Force to develop a road map for the implementation of this merger for consideration at its next meeting.
On measures to facilitate the movement of business persons across the RECs, the Summit directed that the study report on the road map and legal framework, be presented to a specially convened Tripartite Council of Ministers for consideration within 12 months to, among other things, determine the time frame for the establishment of a single FTA encompassing the three RECs.
The Tripartite Summit directed the Chairpersons of the Councils of Ministers of the three RECs to ensure that the three RECs speed up the development of joint programmes that enhance co-operation and deepening of co-ordination in industrial and competition policies, financial and payments systems, development of capital markets and Commodity Exchanges.
The Tripartite Summit directed the Chairpersons of the Councils of Ministers of the three RECs to ensure that the Secretariats participate, co-ordinate and harmonize positions on the EPA negotiations and other multilateral negotiations, including the WTO Doha Development Round Negotiations.
Joint Infrastructure programmes
In the area of infrastructure development, the Tripartite Summit: launched the Joint Competition Authority (JCA) on Air Transport Liberalization which will oversee the full implementation of the Yamoussoukro Decision on Air Transport in the three RECs commencing January 2009. The JCA comprises seven members, two members each from EAC, COMESA and SADC plus a chairperson on a rotational basis.
The Summit directed the three RECs to put in place, within one year: a joint programme for the implementation of a single seamless upper airspace; a joint programme for the implementation of an accelerated, seamless inter-regional ICT Broadband Infrastructure network; and a joint programme for implementation of a harmonized policy and regulatory framework that will govern ICT and infrastructural development in the three RECs.
The Summit directed the three RECs to effectively coordinate and harmonize, within one year: the Regional Transport Master Plans of the three RECs; and the Regional Energy Priority Investment Plans and the Energy Master Plans of the three RECS. The Summit directed the three RECs to develop joint financing and implementation mechanisms for infrastructure development within one year.
Legal and Institutional framework
With regard to the Legal and Institutional Framework, the Tripartite Summit: directed the Council of Ministers of each of the three RECs to, within six months, consider and approve the Memorandum of Understanding on interregional cooperation and integration; the approved Memorandum of Understanding be signed by the Chairpersons of the three RECs, within one month of its approval; and established a Tripartite Summit of Heads of State and/or Government which shall sit once every two years.
In the interim, pending the signing of the MOU: the Tripartite Summit established a Tripartite Council of Ministers which will meet at least once every two years; established a Tripartite Sectoral Ministerial Committee on Trade, Finance, Customs, Economic Matters and Home/Internal Affairs; a Tripartite Sectoral Ministerial Committee on Infrastructure; a Tripartite Sectoral Ministerial Committee on Legal Affairs and any other Ministerial committees, as established by the Tripartite Council of Ministers, which shall meet at least once a year; approved extraordinary meetings of the Tripartite Summit and Tripartite Council of Ministers to be held as and when necessary; established a Tripartite Committee of Senior Officials and of Experts which shall meet at least once a year; and established a Tripartite Task Force of the Secretariats of the three RECs to meet at least twice a year.
Global financial crisis
On other matters, The Tripartite Summit noted with great concern the current global financial crisis undermining the economic stability of the world and posing a serious threat to the growth of African economies, particularly in terms of demand for African exports of goods and services including tourism, foreign direct investment, remittances of the African diaspora, employment, development cooperation, achievement of the Millenium Development Goals and the willingness of the donor community to meet aid commitments.
The Tripartite Summit called for collective action to help African and other developing and least developed countries to address the adverse impact of the financial crisis and the global economic meltdown and urged international financial institutions to adopt effective remedial measures to mitigate the risks. The Tripartite Summit further noted the continued world food crisis and agreed to make strategic interventions to exploit the potential of African economies in the production of food and enhance accessibility to markets.
The EAC-SADC-COMESA Summit is considered historic because for the first time, since the birth of the AU, key building blocks of the African Economic Community have met on how to integrate territories and moving towards deepening and widening integration within the overall Abuja Treaty for the establishment of the African Economic Community. The EAC, COMESA and SADC currently have a combined population of 527 million and combined GDP of $ 625 billion.
Attendance of the Tripartite Summit
The Tripartite Summit was attended by the following Heads of State and Government: - His Excellency, Mr. Yoweri Kaguta Museveni, President of the Republic of Uganda; His Excellency, Mr. Mwai Kibaki, President of the Republic of Kenya; His Excellency, Mr. Kgalema Motlanthe, President of the Republic of South Africa; His Excellency, Mr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania; His Excellency Mr Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda; His Excellency Mr Robert Gabriel Mugabe, President of the Republic of Zimbabwe; Right Honourable Pakalitha Mosisili, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Lesotho; His Excellency, Gabriel Ntisezerana, Second Vice President of the Republic of Burundi; and Right Honourable Dr Sibusiso Barnabas Dlamini, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Swaziland.
The following Plenipotentiaries represented the Heads of State and Government of the following countries: Honourable Olivier Kamitatu Etshou, Minister of Planning, Democratic Republic of Congo; Honourable Rifki Abdoulkader Bamakhrama, Minister of Trade, and Industry, Republic of Djibouti; honourable Dr Osman Mohamed, Minister of Economic Development, Arab Republic of Egypt; Honourable Dr. Ali Abd Alazziz Alsawi, Secretary General of Economy, Trade and Investment, Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya; Honourable Mrs. Joyce Banda, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Malawi; Honourable Arvind Boolell, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and International Trade, Republic of Mauritius; Honourable Antonion Fernando, Minister of Trade and Industry, Republic of Mozambique; Honourable Bradford Machila, Minister of Lands and Special Representative of His Honour the Vice President and Acting President of the Republic of Zambia;
Honourable Honourable Joaquim Duarte da Costa David, Minister of Industry Republic of Angola; Honourable Neo D. Moroka, Minister of Trade and Industry of the Republic of Botswana; Honourable Patrick Pillay, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Seychelles; His Excellency Hassan Ibrahim Gadkarim, Ambassador of the Republic of Sudan to Republic of Uganda, Republic of Rwanda and Republic of Burundi; His Excellency Wilfried I. Emvula, Ambassador and Permanent Delegate to the African Union and the Economic Commission of Africa, Republic of Namibia; His Excellency Salih Omar Abdu, Ambassador of the State of Eritrea to Republic of Kenya, Republic of Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania; His Excellency Dr. Denis Andriamandroso, Ambassador of the Republic of Madagascar to the Republic of South Africa; His Excellency Ambassador Clifford Sibusiso Mamba, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Kingdom of Swaziland The following Organisations were represented at the Tripartite Summit by their officials : H.E. Erastus J.O. Mwencha, Vice Chairperson, African Union Commission; Mrs. Lalla Ben Barka; Deputy Executive Secretary, UNECA; Mr. Mtchera J. Chirwa, African Development Bank; Dr. Kasaija Apuuli, IGAD; and Ambassador Liberata Mulamula, Executive Secretary, International Confererence on the Great Lakes
Also in attendance were Chief Executive Officers of the COMESA, EAC, and SADC - Mr. Erasturs Mwencha, Executive Secretary of COMESA, Amb. Juma Mwapachu, Secretary General of the EAC; Dr Tomaz Augusto Salomao, Executive Secretary, SADC.
By Directorate of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, EAC ARUSHA