Lazarus Chakwera wants trade obstacles removed
President Lazarus Chakwera has said Africa needs to remove trade barriers that have prevented nations on the continent from trading among themselves.
Chakwera was speaking in Durban, South Africa, where the second Intra-Africa Trade Fair opened Monday.
He said although the African Continental Free Trade Area was ratified 11 months ago, there remains much work to be done to turn Africa into an area where goods and services from all African nations are traded freely in all African nations.
According to Chakwera, 85 percent of goods traded in Africa come from outside Africa.
“One obstacle we must lift to close the gap between our trading dreams and our trading realities is the lack of information about what goods and services supplied in one nation have a market in another.
“The Intra-African Trade Fair goes a long way in lifting this obstacle, and I invite you to visit the Malawi booth, where close to 30 of my country’s captains of industry are ready to do business. But for each of the 30 businesses who have come with me here, there are 30 thousand who have not,” Chakwera said.
He noted that if Africa were serious about promoting Intra- African Trade, it must t start to conduct 55 Intra-African Trade Fairs in 55 African nations every year.
Chakwera further said another biggest obstacle that must be lifted to close the gap between trading policy and trading practice is the lack of access to the markets in various countries.
“To make intra-African trade a reality, we must make our border procedures intra-African; our visa policies intra-African; our tax regimes intra-African; our transport infrastructure intra- African; our bus-line, rail-line and airline routes Intra-African.
“Our electricity distribution intra-African; our fiber and broadband connectivity intra-Africa; our investment policies intra-African; our industrialisation and urbanisation drives Intra-African; and our shops Intra-African,” Chakwera said.
The IATF is being hosted by the South African government in conjunction with the African Export-Import Bank.
The IATF is expected to attract over 10,000 visitors and buyers across the African continent.
More than 80 companies supported by the government are showcasing their products and services.
The IATF provides an opportunity for businesses to access an African market worth over $2.5 trillion created under the AfCFTA.