support to the comesa-eac-sadc tripartite

The Tripartite is an umbrella organization consisting of three of Africa’s Regional Economic Communities (REC’s), namely:

  • the East Africa Community (EAC),
  • the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and
  • the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The overarching objective of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite is to contribute to the broader objectives of the African Union (AU), namely accelerating regional economic integration of the continent and achieving sustainable economic development - thereby alleviating poverty and improving quality of life for the people of the Eastern and Southern African Region.

TMSA provides administrative, financial and technical support to the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite to help improve its operational capacity and efficiency.  This includes support to convene and participate in a number of important institutional events and meetings, development of a regional Rules of Origin database and support to regional communications and advocacy. 

TMSA's support contributes to deepening regional economic integration and promoting growth and poverty reduction.


COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Institutional Meetings and Events

TMSA and others support the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite to convene and participate in a number of important institutional events and meetings, including

  • Tripartite Task Force Meetings: TMSA provides the technical, administrative and financial support required, including supporting the chair to convene meetings and to monitor progress in implementing the Tripartite work programme and decisions.
  • Tripartite Policy Organs Meetings and Heads of State Summit:  TMSA provided technical, administrative and financial support to the 2nd Tripartite Heads of State Summit (held on 12 June 2011), preceded by Policy Organs Meetings.  TMSA also supported technical and logistical preparations for technical meetings and workshops related to the Summit.
  • Tripartite Investment conferences and advocacy visits and events.
  • Friends of the Tripartite Meetings:  These meetings, convened by the Tripartite Chair, brings together regional donors interested in supporting the Tripartite Work Programme.
  • Tripartite Trust Account (TTA) Investment Committee Meetings:  These meetings, convened by the Tripartite Chair and TTA Fund Manager (DBSA) involve TTA investors who meet to consider project proposals for funding from the TTA.
Establishing a Tripartite Rules of Origin Database

The COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite launched negotiations for a Tripartite Free Trade Area at their Second Tripartite Summit on 12 June 2011. One of the key areas that must be negotiated during the first phase of FTA negotiations (within 36 months from June 2011) is the Rules of Origin that will facilitate trade in goods between countries within the FTA.

Rules of Origin refer to laws, regulations and administrative procedures that are applied to determine from which country a product originates. This is important to trade within a preferential trading arrangement, because the reduced or duty free importation rates that signatories to such an agreement are entitled to, applies only to products that originate within the preferential trade area.

Rules of Origin are, therefore, important to avoid trade diversion from occurring.  If there were no Rules of Origin to be observed, a Member State of a Regional Economic Community (REC) could import a good from a country not in the COMESA-EAC-SADC region, and then re-export it within COMESA-EAC-SADC FTA’s free of import duty.  This would mean that the good would simply transit through the Member State and the exporting country would be benefitting from a preference intended only for Member States of the REC.  No benefit would accrue to the other REC partners and this would also have a negative impact on other countries trading with the preference giving country.

To be effective, a preferential or free trade agreement must have transparent and simple Rules of Origin that promote trade while ensuring no, or minimal, trade diversion takes place.

TMSA is supporting the Tripartite to establish a regional Rules of Origin database.  This database contains:

  • The Rules of Origin applied under the preferential trading arrangements of the three Regional Economic Communities.
  • Rules of Origin applied under the Generalized System of Preferences Scheme of the European Union (EU-GSP) and
  • the American Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

This database will be an invaluable tool during negotiations for a common, Tripartite wide Rules of Origin under the FTA, as it will allow comparison of the current Rules of Origin in the region.

The database has been completed, and will be officially launched once it has been presented to, and approved by the Tripartite Task Force.

Support to Tripartite Communications

TMSA provides limited support to the Tripartite and it's constituent Regional Economic Communities as well as related organisations in order to improve communication with donors and other partners, as well as a more general interested audience.

TMSA supported the development of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite website (, as well as the COMESA Competition Commission website (

TMSA has also developed marketing materials for the Tripartite.

Supporting the Tripartite to Deepen Regional Economic Integration

Early Closure of TMSA Programme: The Secretary of State of the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) has decided to terminate its financial contribution to TradeMark Southern Africa (TMSA), as announced on 4 December 2013. As DFID is the sole financier of the TMSA programme of support to the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite, TMSA will officially be closed from 17 March 2014 instead of 31 October 2014. For more information about the TMSA closure, and for a summary of some of the more notable successes of the Tripartite achieved with TMSA support, please click here