DAR ES SALAAM, March 18 (Xinhua) -- The Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), Stergomena Tax, on Wednesday urged member states of the regional bloc to ratify and accede to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
AfCFTA was brokered by the African Union in the Rwandan capital Kigali on March 21, 2018 to accelerate intra-African trade and boosting Africa's trading position in the global market by strengthening Africa's common voice and policy space in global trade negotiations.
Speaking by video conferencing at the start of a one-day SADC Council of Ministers meeting in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam, Tax said only five out of the 16 SADC member states have ratified the agreement.
"With progress made, the ratification of the AfCFTA remains slow," she told the meeting officially opened by Tanzanian Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa who called for enhanced democracy and security in the region.
She added that SADC member states were also slow at the signing of the agreement on the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA), a proposed African free trade agreement between the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), SADC and the East African Community.
With regard to the TFTA, said Tax, a total of 22 countries have so far signed the agreement, and eight countries have ratified it, of which three were SADC member states.
She said the TFTA was crucial to the realization of the AfCFTA.
Tax said the ratification of these important instruments will facilitate the acceleration of regional and continental integration.