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Historic Moment as Lesotho Signs Tripartite Free Trade Agreement in Maseru

In a significant milestone for regional economic integration, the Kingdom of Lesotho marked a pivotal moment on October 27, 2023, by signing the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) Agreement in a grand ceremony held in Maseru, the capital city. 

The signing event was attended by governmental authorities, parliamentarians, private sector representatives, and dignitaries from the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC), and Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The TFTA Agreement, which encompasses three critical pillars of market integration, industrialization, and infrastructure development, stands as a testament to the commitment of 23 signatories and 11 ratifications thus far.

Lesotho’s participation, through the signature by Honourable Mokhethi Shelile, the Minister of Trade, Industry, Business Development, and Tourism, signifies a step towards fostering a large single market with free movement of goods and services across the Tripartite region.

Speaking on behalf of the Kingdom of Lesotho, Minister Shelile underlined the pivotal role the TFTA Agreement holds for the private sector, affirming the government’s dedication to implementing the Agreement promptly. 

The immediate ratification and submission of instruments to the Tripartite Task Force Chair further demonstrate Lesotho’s commitment to the Agreement’s realization.

Emissaries from the three Regional Economic Communities (COMESA, EAC, SADC) praised Lesotho’s involvement and emphasized the Agreement’s significance for regional integration, aligning with the broader objectives of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement and the aspirations of the African Union’s Agenda 2063.

Ms. Angele Makombo N’Tumba, Deputy Executive Secretary for Regional Integration at the SADC Secretariat, hailed Lesotho’s signing and elucidated on the complementary nature of the TFTA Agreement to the SADC’s vision and its Regional Indicative Strategy Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030.

The TFTA Agreement’s impact is not limited to regional integration; it is also set to bolster intra-African trade, enhance market integration, promote competition, and equip African nations to compete more effectively on the global stage. 

The Agreement’s role in advancing the objectives of the African Union Abuja Treaty and Agenda 2063 is pivotal, underlining a shared vision for a more prosperous and interconnected African continent.

The signing of the TFTA Agreement by Lesotho is a testament to the collective commitment to furthering economic development and fostering collaboration among the Tripartite regions, ushering in a new era of trade, growth, and opportunity for the people of the respective communities and the broader African continent.

This story has been adopted from the SADC Secretariat.

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