Stakeholders have expressed excitement with the ratification of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by Malawi, which has become the 35th country to ratify the pact.
The ratification follows the deposits of the agreement’s instruments, which were signed by President Lazarus Chakwera on November 1 2020, to the African Union Headquarters in Ethiopia.
Speaking in an interview, Cross Border Traders Association of Malawi Chairperson Esther Tchukambiri said the pact is a great move towards widening Malawi’s market base.
“This is a great move because it will help us to have more markets for our products and also to learn more from other countries as to what they are doing in terms of trade in order to develop,” she said.
Tchukambiri further asked government and stakeholders to scale up the awareness drive of the agreement so that many people get to know it and effectively use it.
Speaking in a separate interview, National Association for Small and Medium Enterprises Chairperson William Mwale said traders in the country have been looking forward to the ratification.
He added that the ratification will broaden the market for agricultural products which Malawi mainly exports, hence contributing to the Gross domestic product growth of the country.
“We will be able now to compete in a global village and exchange goods and raw materials including finished products which will help the country to grow,” he said.
While welcoming the development as a great tool for trade development and improvement, Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) advised government to improve the manufacturing industry to avoid turning the country into a dumping ground.
MCCCI Director for Business Environment and Policy Advocacy Madalitso Kazembe said government needs to make sure that it brings in incentives that will make sure that the manufacturing sector becomes more productive.
Principal Secretary in the Ministry of Trade Christina Chatima said, after a stakeholder meeting on the same, that the reviewed National Export Strategy is expected to resolve some of the problems the private sector has been facing.
“We are reviewing our national exports strategy which is expected to be launched soon and we have also engaged ministries that are responsible for different sectors to rectify the problems,” she said.
The AfCFTA is set to create one of the largest free trade markets in the world and it will involve the removal and reduction of taxes on some products.
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.