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Industry for Trade Area awareness

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Sosten Gwengwe

Some industry players have called on the government to formulate a clear roadmap on putting up a conducive business environment and creating awareness on the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) if Malawi were not to become a dump site.

Provisions of the continental trade pact, to which Malawi committed, are expected to be operationalised on January 1 2021 in some countries.

Cross Border Traders Association Chairperson Esther Tchukambiri said in an interview yesterday that most members of the association were ignorant of provisions of the pact.

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“Traders should be sensitised so that they have information because without the information they will not enjoy the benefits of this arrangement,” she said.

In a separate interview, Chamber for Small and Medium Businesses Executive Secretary James Chiutsi said most SMEs did not know the dictates of the deal.

Trade Minister Sosten Gwengwe said recently that he was confident Malawi will thrive and will not be crushed in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

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Last week, African leaders under the African Union agreed to create a continental trade free area effective January 1 2021, scrapping off some tariffs among member states as well as removing some trade barriers.

All along, private sector players in the country have been doubting that Malawi would reap the most from the agreement.

Recent studies have indicated that Malawi could lose about $11 billion [around K8 billion] in revenue due to the liberalisation of tariffs under the AfCFTA.

The AfCFTA is expected to create the largest free-trade area in the world measured by the number of countries participating. The pact connects 1.3 billion people across 55 countries with a combined gross domestic product (GDP) valued at $3.4 trillion.

It has the potential to lift 30 million people out of extreme poverty.

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