South Africa-based Trade Law Centre (Tralac) has tipped Malawi and other countries to speed up negotiations on ratifying African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) tariff lines and rules of origin ahead of the June 2021 deadline.
This came out during a virtual press briefing the organisation held at the weekend to update stakeholders on progress made since operationalisation of the pact on January 1.
Currently, 41 out of the 54 countries that signed the agreement have submitted tariff reduction schedules.
Tralac Executive Director Trudi Hartzenberg said the deadline was agreed by heads of State during a meeting held on December 5 2020.
“It is an ambitious target. However, the heads of State want the process to be completed but we are not sure that even those that have been submitted are complying with the modalities of trade,” Hartzenberg said.
But, in an interview, spokesperson in the Ministry of Trade Mayeso Msokera said the draft offer is ready for submission to the African Union Secretariat.
“It is being reviewed by management and, without doubt we are going to submit before the June deadline because all processes such as consultations with stakeholders and consolidation of input were completed,” Msokera said.
In an earlier interview, Msokera said Malawi will start trading under the pact after the passing of the 2021/22 national budget after amendments in the tariff book have been made and approved by Parliament.
Malawi ratified the AfCFTA pact in January.
Under the agreement, members must phase out 90 percent of tariff lines over the next five to 10 years. Another 7 percent considered sensitive will get more time, while 3 percent will be allowed to be placed on an exclusion list.