Director of Trade in the Ministry of Trade, Clement Kumbemba says the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) 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.
Kumbemba made the remark during the AfCFTA National Implementation strategy workshop in Blantyre.
He said studies suggest that if successful, Africa’s manufacturing sector will double in size, with annual output increasing from $500 billion in 2015 to $1trillion in 2025, and contributing additional 14 million stable, well-paying jobs.
“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 GDP of more than US$2.5 trillion.
“However, the AfCFTA has to be backed up by modern national and regional trade-related infrastructure, increased productive capacity, enhanced regional value chains, and removing internal obstacles to the growth of SMEs so that African countries can compete well in the liberalized regional market,” he asserted.
The Director of Trade said government resolved to joining other African countries in creating the biggest free trade area in the world.
“It’s now up to the private sector to embrace this great initiative and play to win. The goods you export to other African countries will still have to compete with products from all over the world: China, Vietnam, Brazil it is therefore critical that you build globally competitive firms,” he advised.
Kumbemba observed that without an efficient and focused network of trade support institutions working to make trade work for Malawi, the benefits of the AfCFTA may take too long to be realised.
Accordingly, the strategy identifies lead and supporting institutions that will be critical in the implementation of the strategic objectives. Therefore, the capacity of these institutions must be strengthened so that operators in the trade sector have all the necessary support they need to succeed.
The strategy also looks at the trade, production and competitiveness frameworks that have a bearing on Malawi and analyses the trade potential for goods and services highlighting the key issues and action points.
Representative of the European Union (EU) Delegation to Malawi, Jose Maria Medina Navaro commended Malawi for ratifying the AfCFTA on 15th January, 2021 and becoming one of the 36 countries to have ratified the AFCFTA so far and for being part of the first group of countries to dispatch their tariff and services offers well before the set deadline.
She said the EU is proud to have supported the process that led to Malawi’s ratification and submission of its tariff offer through our bilateral support.
Navaro said once implemented, the AfCFTA can become the anchor for a continent-to-continent free trade area.
She said working towards this long-term perspective, the Commission wants to make maximum use of the EU’s trade arrangements with Africa, so that they can be building blocks of the African continental free trade area.
“The AfCFTA will be a market of 1.2 billion people with a combined gross domestic product of US$2.5 trillion. It will also constitute a significant milestone towards the realization of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 for the socio-economic transformation of the continent,” said Navaro.
Similar validation workshops will held in Lilongwe and Mzuzu on 9th and 11th June 2021, respectively.
The workshops provide a platform for stakeholders to verify and validate the content of the strategy, provide a clear structure for its implementation, and enable stakeholders to dialogue and secure ownership of the strategy.
This validation Meeting of Malawi’s AfCFTA National Strategy is one of the key actions part of the EU funded project: ‘Deepening Africa’s Trade Integration through Effective Implementation of the AfCFTA to support Economic Integration’ with a total budget of € 8 million.
The meetings have been organized by the Ministry of Trade in collaboration with the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), which also works with the International Trade Centre (ITC), UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), and independent trade experts.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :