World Bank and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) say the intra-regional trade under the AfCFTA has potential to bring significant economic and social gains, leading to higher incomes, lower poverty and faster economic growth.
In a joint report titled ‘Making the Most of the African Continental Free Trade Area’, published last week, the two institutions say, if fully implemented to harmonise investment and competition rules, the trade pact could boost regional incomes by nine percent— to $571 billion by 2035.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Trade and Industry has said Malawi is systematically positioned to make the most of the availed opportunities.
The ministry has since outlined about 10 key commodities which, according to its spokesperson Mayeso Msokera, have a comparative advantage in some of the member-countries and have export potential.
They include raw cane sugar, black tea, oilcake of soya-bean oil and legumes, cereals, maize seed, pulses, fruits and nuts, rice and tobacco.
Msokera said Malawi is committed to the cause of regional integration, of which one is the implementation of the AfCFTA.
“The country’s readiness is demonstrated through the signing and ratification of the AfCFTA agreement. The national AfCFTA liberalisation modalities were also gazetted in May 2021 signifying commencement of application of AfCFTA trading regime in Malawi.
“More importantly, the Ministry of Trade and Industry has developed the National AfCFTA Implementation Strategy to guide the country in the effective implementation of the AfCFTA,” he said.
The strategy mainly is focusing on interventions aimed at expanding market access for targeted goods and services beyond Comesa and Sadc, in particular the new markets in North and West Africa.
The AfCFTA remains the largest free trade area in the world measured by the number of countries participating.
It could create almost 18 million more jobs, many of them higher-paying and better-quality jobs, with women workers seeing the biggest gains.
In a statement accompanying the report, World Bank Managing Director for Development Policy and Partnerships Mari Pangestu said the implementation of the trade agreement would also lead to larger wage gains for women and skilled workers.