The Ministry of Trade has expressed optimism that it will beat the June 30 deadline to submit tariff lines to the African Union (AU) for Malawi to start trading with peers under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
The pact was operationalised on January 1 2021 but actual trading is expected to commence once the AU has consolidated the tariff offers.
The 13th extraordinary session of the AU on AfCFTA conducted in December 2020 agreed to urge member states and customs unions that have not submitted tariff offers to identify 90 percent of their tariff lines by June 2021.
In an interview, Ministry of Trade spokesperson Mayeso Msokera said the tariff changes have been included in the national budget and that, once it is passed, the tariffs will also have been passed and submitted to the AU.
“We are certain that by July 1, which is a day for the commencement of the pact, the tariffs will have been passed because the tariffs have been included in the budget as they affect the taxation law,” Msokera said.
In an earlier interview, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa Programmes Manager Batanai Chikwene said, even though some tariffs will be removed, Malawi stands to benefit just like any other country.
“When imports start coming, there are possibilities of import surges but the agreement already takes care of that because, in cases where imports rise and unfair trade is happening, the agreement provides for government to use the agreement to stop that,” Chikwene said.
Currently 41 out of the 54 countries that signed the agreement of the pact have submitted tariff reduction schedules.
The AfCFTA will bring together all 55 member states of the AU covering a market of more than 1.2 billion people, including a growing middle class, and a combined gross domestic product of more than $3.4 trillion.
Justin Mkweu is a fast growing reporter who currently works with Times Group on the business desk.
He is however flexible as he also writes about current affairs and national issues.