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Expert tips Malawi on free trade area

NAVARO—Compensate losers

An expert in international trade relations has tipped Malawi to harmonise tariffs and tariff offers under the various regional trade agreements (RTAs) to benefit from its participation.

Moses Tekere, Director at an independent consultant firm, Trade and Development Studies (Trades) Center emphasised on need for the country to push for harmonised and simpler Rules of Origin (RoO) in the agreements.

Currently Malawi is negotiating the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement (TFTA), the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) and the Economic Partnership Agreement (Epa).

This follows a study which shows that Malawi risks losing billion of kwacha in revenue if it does not tread carefully on the agreements.

“Domestication is important in areas such as technical barriers to trade (TBT) and sanitary or phytosanitary measures as well as dispute settlement to ensure that Malawi can enforce its trading partners’ obligations under its RTAs.

“Malawi also needs to investigate the establishment of a competent authority to initiate and investigate trade remedies applications,” Tekere said.

The study findings show that Malawi is violating its obligations under the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Free Trade Area (FTA) due to failure to liberalise its tariffs.

It recommends that Malawi should formulate a negotiation position in the TFTA andvAfCFTA to ensure the harmonisation of multiple memberships.

European Union Economic, Trade and Governance Section Team leader, Jose Maria Medina Navaro said in any negotiations, there are winners and losers.

“Malawi has a narrow and undiversified production, industrial base and the agreements always have some escape clauses,” Navaro said.

The AfCFTA intends to bring together 55 African countries with combined Gross Domestic Product of over $3.4 trillion.

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