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Peter Mutharika eyeing Commonwealth attention after Brexit

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President Peter Mutharika has said with the United Kingdom withdrawing from the European Union (EU), he expects The Commonwealth to shift its attention to African countries.

He made the remarks when Patricia Scotland, Secretary General of The Commonwealth, made a courtesy call on him at Kamuzu Palace on Thursday.

During the meeting, Mutharika said The Commonwealth has been an integral part of Malawi since 1964.

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He said the intergovernmental organisation of mostly former territories of the British Empire has contributed to human and economic development, through the promotion of democracy, rule of law, human rights, good governance and has been a voice of Malawi’s development issues.

“As the UK is leaving the European Union, we also hope that The Commonwealth secretariat will take a lead in making Africa a priority destination for British investments and partnerships that will build upon our historical trade and political ties,” Mutharika said.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May triggered the process of UK’s exit from the EU on March 29 this year. The process is expected to end in March 2019.

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Mutharika also assured Scotland of Malawi’s support to The Commonwealth, as it seeks to create an equal Commonwealth among all its members.

Scotland said The Commonwealth will continue assisting Malawi in a number of areas, including trade.

“We will be working together to identify gaps in the market. Malawi has specific skills, for example, it has always created beautiful leather. But traditionally, that leather has been exported for others to make beautiful garments,” Scotland said.

She added: “What we did with Malawi is to look at design. We created a design consortium, which was able to add value to the beautiful leather right here and has greatly enhanced the opportunity for people to earn extremely good wages from this added value. So, we are looking at how we can enhance intra- Commonwealth trade.”

Scotland also said she was particularly impressed with Malawi for putting in place measures that are promoting the rights of women and girls.

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