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Further wait on AfCFTA terms

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Traders wishing to export commodities within Africa under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) will have to wait a little longer as the country would start following its dictates after passing of the 2021/22 national budget.

Ministry of Trade spokesperson Mayeso Msokera said, while trading under the AfCFTA rules officially started on January 1 2021, the AfCFTA implementation modalities would require amendments of some aspects of the taxation law including the Customs and Excise (Tariffs) order.

He cited introduction of a column for AfCFTA in the Tariff Book among the changes.

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“Malawi is finalising the establishment of all requisite implementation modalities in order to facilitate seamless trading. It is therefore expected that Malawi will fully effect implementation of the AfCFTA after approval of 2021/22 budget in which the AfCFTA fiscal implementation will be embedded,” Msokera said.

He said, with support from UNECA, the ministry is formulating a National AfCFTA Implementation Strategy and a consultant has just completed consultations with stakeholders.

Msokera said the strategy will, among other things, identify trade opportunities in the context of the AfCFTA and potential value chains where comparative advantages lie for Malawi.

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“The strategy will also identify current constraints to Malawi’s trade expansion and integration as well as strategic actions needed to address them and, therefore, boost the identified priority sectors. Soon, the ministry will be convening a validation meeting for the strategy. We, therefore, expect the final Strategy to be ready for adoption and implementation by end of April/ May 2021,” Msokera added.

Cross-border Traders Association of Malawi Chairperson Esther Tchukambiri said it is not worrying that Malawi will delay participation in the AfCFTA as cross border trading is not vast due to Covid.

“With the slow-down in business brought about by Covid, we would not mind waiting until the next budget is passed. Any further delays would not be accepted,” Tchukambiri said.

Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry Director of Business Environment and Policy Advocacy Madalitso Kazembe said there was no harm in waiting for the tax reforms.

“I don’t see an issue there because implementation of tax reforms has to go through the budget process,” Kazembe said.

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