Malawi President signs Africa free trade deal: Cape Town to Cairo free-trade zone

Malawi President Peter Mutharika joined African leaders on Wednesday to sign a 26-nation free trade pact to create a common market that would span half the continent from Cairo to Cape Town.

Mutharika at the summit in Egypt

Mutharika at the summit in Egypt

President Mutharika signing the pact-. .Picture by Francis Mphweya-MANA

President Mutharika signing the pact-. .Picture by Francis Mphweya-MANA

The pact – known as The Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) –  which must still be fine-tuned and ratified, caps five years of talks to set up a framework for preferential tariffs to ease the movement of goods in an area home to 625 million people.

Mutharika signed the trade deal and attended the launch in in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe and President Omar al-Bashir of Sudan were among those who signed the pact at a summit.

The deal will integrate three existing trade blocs — the East African Community, the Southern African Development Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) — whose countries have a combined gross domestic product of more than $1 trillion .

According to Malawi Minister of Trade and Industry Joseph Mwanamveka though Malawi has signed the trade deal, it would implement the TFTA when it has addressed some issues such as tariffs.

Chairperson of the COMESA-SADC-EAC Tripartite Free Trade area Task force Sindiso Ngwenya called on countries who have signed the trade agreement to ensure that they implement the accord and not just sign on paper.

“Some member states have not completely liberalized free movement of business persons, this would require governmments commitment otherwise this would make the tripartite region, a region with thick borders,” he added.

The TFTA has been widely welcomed by world business leaders, with experts pointing out that only 12 percent of Africa’s trade is between countries on the continent.

Chairperson of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Summit Ethiopian Prime Minister Ato Hailemariam Desalegn said for the TFTA to be efficient there is need for peace and security in the region.

“Political unrest, civil wars, terrorism are a detrimental element to achieving a successful meaningful and conducive environment for investment,” he said.

He also said the elimination of trade barriers would boost productivity capacity of industries in the region.

Earlier in the day, President Arthur Peter Mutharika held bilateral talks in camera with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sis.

Minister of Trade and Industry Mwanamvekha said the two presidents discussed trade, investment between the two countries and the technical community colleges training in Malawi

The President also met Dr Mukhisa Kituyi the Secretary General of United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) to discuss financial and trade issues in Malawi.—Additional reporting by Nyasa Times

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Mengistu Hailemariam
I am personally prepared to stop the continuous price increase of consumer goods in Ethiopia when the TFTA deal goes into a effect. I urge the young energetic Ethiopian migrants to consider working for me in Zimbabwe to get Ethiopian birr powerful again as it was 24 years ago. 25 years ago 1 USA dollar = 2.07 Ethiopian birrs NOW 1 USA dollar = 25 Ethiopian birrs The only reason Tigray People’s liberation Front (TPLF) were better than me was because they were money mongers and business minded people. They bribed my generals like General Ali and General Abdulahi. Now… Read more »
Zidura Ntengo Undigwere
Zidura Ntengo Undigwere
A country like ours, a very small economy, even in the African context, has no choice but to sign on to these protocols. Malawi does not manufacture anything for export, to talk about. We are majorly, net consumers of foreign goods. Other country will run with the agreement, and prosper because they will export more. And we will remain hewers of wood and drawer of water for a long time. With APM or anybody else at the helm. We are too dependent on agro-based enterprises; even since Kamuzu’s days. And it’s not his fault either. We are so poor, most… Read more »

the problem is Malawi has nothing to sell.


This is just the Beginning, It’s gonna work but slowly, slowly, Slowwlyyyy!, you know where we are going People, One Currency, believe me it’s coming just watch it, The World is coming to an end, Receive Jesus Christ now, zayambika okkkk.


Malawians osamangoombera manja chilichonse…i tell u this frer trade will benefit other countries not in africa…asian european countries now will easily siphon our african resources….these other continents azigula zinthu mwaulele kudzera mmayiko ena mu africa momwemo….


Instead of trying to make it work koma mwayamba kale kukayika so how do you think it can work then? because it needs you and me.Amalawi sadzatheka.the responsibility is not for the government is for all of us kkkkkkkkkkkkk

Thitherward Wendo

Ngwenya says: “Some member states have not completely liberalized free movement of business persons . . . .” What we need is free movement of ALL persons – labor as well as management. Why is it that governments globalize every aspect of manufacture and trade except labor? They leave globalization of labor in the hands of the human traffickers! Shame!


Thats the matter of facts OMAR, PETER, AL-SISI AND MUGABE. palibenso continue that job it can create oneness of Africa unity in free business to help the poor to become rich earlier.

Patrick Phiri

Izi ndiye zeni zeni izi. Osati zogawa mbuzi ndimazira zija ayi.

Likoma Economist

I do not see how the poorest country on earth, that cannot lay its own eggs, & has huge appetite for imports, hardly exports anything, taxes its citizens like slaves, and steals over half of the revenues, etc, etc can ever benefit frm this initiative.
A country without a direction – led by headless chickens. Sad, sad, sad…

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