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Government backs African Continental Free Trade Area

By Eric Msikiti:

KASAILA—Plan aimed at mitigating challenges

Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Francis Kasaila, has said the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) launched on Sunday would help boost Malawi’s economy and facilitate creation of jobs.

Malawi is among 54 African countries that have signed the AfCFTA agreement.

However, like 28 other countries, Malawi is yet to ratify the agreement which came into force on May 30 2019 when 22 member states ratified it.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 12th Extraordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union summit in Niamey Niger, Kasaila called on Malawians to invest in production of quality products in large quantities in order to compete, benefit and meet the demand of the market across the continent.

“As a country, we need to take full advantage of the opportunity that has been created by this agreement (AfCFTA), because it will boost the economy through the creation of jobs for our young population,” Kasaila said.

Malawi joined African Union (AU) Member States to formally launch the world’s largest trade bloc which unites 55 countries and 1.3 billion people.

It brings the promise of trade-led economic growth closer to reality for entrepreneurs, industrialists, investors, innovators and service suppliers.

The AfCFTA launch was the major focus at the AU summit.

During the Summit, the Republic of Nigeria and Benin signed and became part of the AfCFTA agreement, leaving Eritrea as the only non-signatory country.

In a statement issued on Monday, Ministry of Foreign Affairs says African leaders endorsed July 1 2020, as the beginning date of trading under the agreement.

“Delegates to the summit have also endorsed Accra Ghana as the host of the AfCFTA Secretariat after beating other countries such as Kenya, eSwatini, Madagascar who also bid to host the institution,” reads the statement in part.

Some, however, fear that cheaper imports will hit small manufacturers and smallholder farmers while other countries would face a short-term hit to revenues.

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