Closure of TradeMark Southern Africa

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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. The Secretary of State’s written statement to Parliament on TMSA’s early closure, and the reasons she gave for this decision, can be accessed here.

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.

Some of the more notable successes the Tripartite achieved with TMSA support include the following:
Enhanced cooperation among COMESA, EAC and SADC - resulting in better and more effective implementation of their respective and joint programmes.

With regard to trade, the support TMSA has provided to the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement (TFTA) goes well beyond actual trade liberalisation, to putting a self-accelerating process in motion towards creating an open economic space among 26 countries in Africa and potentially Africa wide. It has changed the trade integration narrative in Africa and has created a platform (this being the Tripartite Trade Negotiating Forum) from which deeper integration can take place. Even after the TFTA has been established, the TTNF will continue and will, presumably, focus on improving the pace, nature and scope of the TFTA by, for example, “improving” the Rules of Origin; continuing with tariff phase-down by bringing more tariff lines into the phase-down process; and moving onto issues such as Trade in Services, competition policy, “integration by law”, investment issues, etc. The TTNF has been the first cross-regional integration platform to be established on the continent and remains the only such instrument to further the deeper integration ambitions of the Africa Union and the African Economic Community. The challenge for the Tripartite is how to keep this cross-regional integration platform operational after the unexpected early closure of TMSA.

At the WTO LDC level, starting with its precursor programme, the RTFP, TMSA has been transformational in assisting to obtain the agreement of Annex F of the 2005 Ministerial Declaration at Hong Kong, especially in the areas of Rules of Origin and Duty-Free, Quota-Free Market Access.

Related to Rules of Origin work, the Tripartite, with the assistance of TMSA, has developed and maintained the only regional Rules of Origin database that allows exporters and importers to compare COMESA, EAC, SADC, EU and AGOA Rules of Origin and to assess whether any product is in compliance with the COMESA, EAC, SADC, EU or AGOA Rules of Origin and its eligibility for preferences. This tool can be accessed here:
The Tripartite, through a partnership between TMSA and UNCTAD, successfully designed, developed and delivered seven trade negotiation training modules in Rules of Origin; Anti-Dumping and Injury Margin Calculations; Safeguards; Subsidies and Countervailing Measures; Dispute Settlement Mechanisms; Drafting of Trade Agreements and Tariff Liberalisation. These can be accessed here. These modules have been in great demand and have assisted to speed up the TFTA negotiations.

The Tripartite has developed and implemented, through TMSA, a suite of Trade Facilitation programmes including:
• A robust, easy to use and accurate Corridor Monitoring Mechanism based on GPS tracking data and which is operational on the North South Corridor;

• A study on regional transport market liberalisation, findings of which now need to be work-shopped and implemented;

• Training of customs officers in the region on Risk Management, Post Clearance Audit and Facilitation skills;

• Providing assistance to border management agencies in the design and implementation of Integrated (or Coordinated) Border Management systems in selected countries in the region;

• Improving systems at border posts (including the Chirundu One-Stop Border Post) resulting in reduced clearance times and so reduced costs;

• Harmonisation of transport-related trade facilitation instruments and regulatory frameworks, which has improved their implementation and the performance of transport corridors;

• Completion of five country Trade Facilitation Needs Assessment surveys for the WTO in the run-up to the Bali Ministerial Meeting where the Trade Facilitation Agreement was signed in December 2013;

• Support to the World Customs Organisation regional Eastern and Southern Africa office in customs capacity building and the in-house design and implementation of an e-learning platform;

• Design and implementation of a web-based Non-Tariff Barrier (NTB) reporting and monitoring system ( that is backed by NTB structures in 22 Member/Partner States and Focal Points in 19 countries, with more than half (14) of the Tripartite countries now processing complaints on-line; This tool can be accessed here:

• Building the capacity of National Plant Protection Officers (NPPOs) to initiate and complete Pest Risk Analyses (PRAs), a prerequisite to issuance of fresh food import permits;

• Taking a regional approach to controlling the spread of Fruit Fly, the results of which have alleviated trading restrictions on fruit and vegetables, to the benefit of particularly poor farmers in the region; and

• Working with the WTO Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) as part of a global programme to identify SPS issues which are NTBs and addressing how to remove these and so transform agricultural trade in the region.
With regard to infrastructure, the Tripartite has been focusing on reducing the costs of cross-border trade. TMSA, working with the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite, has developed the “Corridor Approach” to infrastructure planning. Essentially this means that project interventions are done on the basis of the project’s importance to the corridor. This has involved doing an economic assessment of the corridor, assessing where the bottlenecks are, getting the support of the country concerned to address these bottlenecks, doing the project preparation work, submitting the project to a financier (through the relevant government agency) and, if necessary, trying to secure a grant element so as to leverage loan finance from the grant. An example of this is the North-South Road Corridor. TMSA (and its precursor programme, the RTFP) identified this transport corridor as a priority regional corridor in terms of the relative freight movement; then undertook an economic analysis (using HDM4 on a regional basis – the first time this has ever been done) and calculated the net present value (NPV) and internal rate of return (IRR) of the entire corridor. This process had the added benefit of estimating the cost of backlog maintenance and periodic and regular maintenance for the next 20 years. This economic analysis identified the bottlenecks and the Tripartite, through the Project Preparation and Implementation Unit (PPIU) - a component of TMSA which has now lost its DFID financing – would then prepare projects for the sections of roads most in need of repair. This would result in bringing the corridor up to ‘good’ physical condition, while also working on the border posts to reduce waiting times and other inefficiencies.

The Tripartite, at the time of notification of TMSA’s closure, was poised to play a transformational role in the regional railway sector with the design and implementation of a regional Railway Revitalisation Plan, which was spearheaded and financed through TMSA.

The creation and establishment of the Tripartite Regional Infrastructure Projects Database (TRIPDA) has made a major contribution to infrastructure information management. TMSA, on behalf of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite, has been able to collate, in one place, all information on all infrastructure projects that countries in the Tripartite consider economically and regionally important. The data base design is innovative as information is kept on a central database, updated and managed through a single web-enabled user interface. Project information, in a harmonised Project Fiche format, is disseminated through the Tripartite eGIS ( This enables the Tripartite to more effectively advocate regional infrastructure investment through better information management, and offers significant value for money in avoiding duplicative efforts among RECs. TRIPDA has laid the foundations (from a technology and process perspective) for the establishment of the PIDA Virtual Information Centre (VPIC), and TMSA has worked closely with NPCA, AFDB and AUC on establishing the continental infrastructure projects database and making this a reality.

TMSA also developed a number of other regional integration tools, which can be accessed here.
The work the Tripartite has started, through TMSA, on Growth Clusters, based on mineral beneficiation, is proving to be transformational in that it is identifying where industrialisation can take place and the inter-relationship between mineral sub-sectors, including Hydrocarbons (Coal, Oil and Gas), Ferrous Metals (Iron and Steel), Base Metals (Chrome, Manganese, Nickel, Vanadium, Copper, Zinc and Lead) and Phosphates. The work being done by TMSA on behalf of the Tripartite has focused on both the upstream (enhancing local content into servicing existing investments) and downstream (potential future investment in industrial capacity) aspects of industrialisation. In addition, this work explores the potential impact of large-scale mining and minerals beneficiation on future infrastructure investment. The studies done so far can be accessed here.

Although only the first phases of estimating the TFTA socio-economic and financial impacts and carbon footprint of roads have been completed, this work is promising to be transformational. The respective analytical programmes have introduced new assessment methodologies for replication elsewhere on the continent and beyond. Subsequent phases of this work, which will be picked up by COMESA, will inform the region on poverty impacts of trade and trade facilitation reforms, as well as intermodal transport choices and financing options.

In December 2013 TMSA invited its partners and clients to complete an anonymous survey of its work in implementing the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite work programme and impact over the past 4 years. Although the response time was limited to less than 2 weeks, a total of 139 responses to the survey were received. Results of the survey have been overwhelmingly positive and rated TMSA highly on all counts of relevance, efficiency, effectiveness and impact. For more information on this survey and its results, please click here.

It is TMSA’s belief that the Tripartite has successfully used the resources provided to it by DFID through TMSA to deepen integration in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

We are confident that the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite will find ways and resources to continue with the work that TMSA has pioneered and implemented.

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