It remains unclear as to when Malawi would deposit the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) ratification instruments to the African Union (AU) as responsible ministries are yet to commit on the matter.
In July this year, the Ministry of Trade indicated that processes to ratify the pact are at an advanced stage, having completed consultations with necessary stakeholders.
Minister of Trade, Sosten Gwengwe, indicated that the country is expected to deposit its ratification instruments to the AU within a month.
However, about four months down the line, the country is yet to complete preparing the ratification instruments for submission.
In a recent interview, Gwengwe, maintained that the instruments were still being vetted at the Ministry of Justice saying “they take too much time sometimes.”
But spokesperson in the Ministry of Justice, Pirirani Masanjala, said the ministry was never communicated to work on the ratification document.
“It seems there is disconnection of information. The Ministry of Justice never received formal instructions to work on this document,” Masanjala said.
The AfCFTA will bring together all 55 member states of the African Union, covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people, including a growing middle class, and a combined gross domestic product (GDP) of more than $3.4 trillion.
The agreement establishing the AfCFTA entered into force on 30 May 2019 for the 24 countries that had deposited their instruments of ratification.
To date, 30 countries have both signed and approved ratification of the AfCFTA Agreement. Of the 55 AU member states, only Eritrea has yet to sign.
Trading under the AfCFTA Agreement was due to commence on 1 July 2020, but as a result of the COVID-19 global pandemic, this date has been postponed.
It has been indicated that the new date for operationalisation is 1 January 2021.