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Comesa tips Malawi on competitiveness

MASEKO—Competition policies must speak to each other at every level

Zacc Kawalala

The Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa) has emphasised the need to harmonise competition policies in the country with those at regional and continental levels.

This, the body says, will help level the playing field for local industry players and those from other countries as trade integration advances under the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

Comesa Competition Commission acting Manager for Enforcement and Exceptions Division Siboniselizulu Maseko said this on the sidelines of this year’s Competitions Day commemorations in Blantyre last week.

Maseko said there is a need to make Malawi’s competition policy responsive to such developments.

“As a country, as a bloc, as a region, we need to ensure that our policy is against any anti-competitive behaviour like abuse of market power when you open up Malawi.

“You are saying that the traders in Malawi are going to compete with bigger companies that are located in other countries and, so, when we go into the negotiations for the competition protocol, we need to make sure that there is an enforcement space that will make sure that anti-competitive practices such as misuse of market power will be sanctioned,” Maseko said.

One of the directors for the Competition and Fair Trading Commission Zacc Kawalala said, already, the local authority relates with the Comesa Competition Commission whose offices are housed in Malawi and can always take advantage to be up to date on integration developments.

“When it comes to trade policies under the AfCFTA, that is the jurisdiction of the Minister of Trade. We may come in here and there but the whole issue on Africa and free trade agreement is to make smooth trading between countries and we believe it will trickle down to consumers through reduced prices,” Kawalala said.

The AfCFTA officially entered into force on May 30 2019, 30 days after the deposit of the 22nd instrument of ratification.

Phase 1 of the AfCFTA, which is the start of trading goods and services, came into effect on January 1 2021, and covers a market of 1.3 billion consumers with a combined gross domestic product of $3.4 trillion.

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