The Minister of Trade and Industry Joseph Mwanamvekha has said the Tripartite Free Trade Area (TFTA) which 26 African countries are launching this Wednesday in Egypt to create a common market across half the continent would help companies in Malawi find a bigger market to sell their goods and compete effectively on the international market.
Mwanamvekha said this in an interview on Monday, in Sharma El Sheikh, Egypt on the sidelines of council meeting for ministers from Common Eastern for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) Southern ADC and East African Community (EAC) in preparation for launch of the free trade area.
The Free Trade Area between the three regional blocs will be launched at the third summit of the tripartite heads of state and government in the Egyptian resort city of Sharm El Sheikh.
President Arthur Peter Mutharika will attend the meeting.
The pact aims to set up a common framework for tariff preferences that would ease the movement of goods across the area’s member countries.
Mwanamvekha said the free trade area would ensure that manufacturing companies in Malawi improve on their produce to ensure that they reach an enlarged market covering 26 countries.
“Our companies need to improve on value adding to their produce, because this tripartite FTA is also raising standards of production,” he added
Mwanamvekha also said the FTA would also help ease movement of goods and people within its membership.
Other objectives of the TFTA are to harmonise policies in areas of common interest and address the issue of multiple membership. Malawi belongs to both COMESA and SADC.
The issue of dual membership by countries to regional blocks was said to be costly, hence the idea of economic integration by members states of the three blocks to create a common and robust market.