Blantyre, Malawi, 7 June, 2021 – Malawi’s Trade Ministry, in collaboration with the African Trade Policy Centre (ATPC), a unit of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), on Monday commenced the review and validation of the country’s African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) implementation strategy.
The meeting, which is being financially supported by the European Union (EU), had in attendance government officials, development experts, private sector operators, civil society organizations, women and young people, the media and people living with disabilities.
Speaking at one of the meetings, the Director of the Regional Integration and Trade Division at the ECA, Stephen Karingi, appealed to the Malawian government to create a conducive environment for the private sector, as the body to implement the strategy, to thrive by investing heavily in execution and implementation of the strategy.
Mr. Karingi, who was represented by Batanai Chikwene, a Management Officer with the ATPC, said: “The government will have to provide an environment in which exporters and importers can do business and set up firms that can compete globally. The importance of mutually reinforcing fiscal, monetary, industrial and trade and trade promotion policies cannot be overemphasized.”
The Team Leader for Economic, Trade and Public Sector in the EU Delegation in Malawi, Jose Medina Navarro, commended the ECA, the African Union Commission (AUC) and the AfCFTA Secretariat for making the commencement of trading a reality on 1 January this year.
The EU had supported the ECA with 8 million euro for the work of deepening Africa’s trade integration through the effective implementation of the AfCFTA, and provided another 1 million euro towards supporting Malawi’s negotiation processes at sub-regional and regional levels.
“The support has taken the form of provision of technical expertise to conduct key studies and guide the country’s formulation of negotiating positions, and supporting stakeholder validation meetings to enable stakeholders input into the negotiation process,” said Mr. Navarro.
Malawi’s Trade Minister, Sosten Gwengwe, represented by his ministry’s Trade Director, Clement Kumbemba, said the country would start implementing the AfCFTA after its budget which incorporates the AfCFTA ratification instrument is passed into law next month.
Today’s workshop will be followed by another session on 9 June in Lilongwe, and the final leg on 11 June in Mzuzu.
Malawi is one of the 38 countries that have ratified the agreement out of 54 countries that signed the treaty establishing the trading bloc in 2019.
The AfCFTA is set to create the biggest free trade area in the world with a market of more than 1.2 billion people and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than US$2.5 trillion.
The bloc has immense opportunities for increasing intra-regional trade, enhancing production, promoting economies of scale, creating jobs, raising incomes and improving the standard of living of the African people.
Lavender C. Degre
United Nations Economic Commission for Africa
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