The United Nations (UN) has challenged Malawi and other nations within the continent to invest in industrilisation and look at trade as a catalyst of competitiveness and sustainable economic development beyond aid.
UN Resident Representative Shigeki Komatsubara was speaking Wednesday at the 27th session of the Intergovernmental Committee of Senior Officials and Experts (ICSOE) in Blantyre.
He said, as a step towards economic recovery from pangs of the Covid pandemic, Malawi and countries within the region should leverage on the existing market under the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) by making their industries competitive.
“We want to demonstrate that a lot of good things can be done by Malawians and for Malawians. We want to support Malawi’s key areas of investment,” Komatsubara said.
He said investment from the UN and other development partners should be seen as key to economic growth and wealth creation which, in turn, should propel trade activities.
He said the UN was working with the government and other stakeholders to increase efficiency of the money used and the resources spent for sustainable economic growth.
“Our job is to invest in the future of Malawi; to demonstrate that things can happen by Malawians and for Malawians. And I am very proud to tell you about what I saw myself. It tells the story that, in Malawi, things can happen,” he said.
Talks at the indaba were bordering on strides made towards regional industrialisation, growing the manufacturing sector and value-chains.
It comes at a time UN Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca) estimates show that AfCFTA will boost intra- African trade by 52.3 percent once import duties and non-tariff barriers are eliminated.
The AfCTA will also diversify intra- African trade as it would encourage more industrial goods compared to extractive goods and natural resources.
Uneca Director for Sub-regional Office for Southern Africa Eunice Kamwendo said by working towards integration with counterparts through the AfCFTA market, Malawi would have a competitive edge.
While urging development partners to continue supporting local economies towards recovery from the pandemic, Kamwendo also asked countries within the region to work together in forming a formidable trade force that would live the test of time.
“We are advocating more support towards recovery. For instance, we thank the IMF for the support it renders to economies through initiatives such as the Special Drawing Rights. But beyond that, with the AfCFTA in place, Malawi and other countries would have to use the platform for integration,” Kamwendo.
Finance Minister Felix Mlusu said the government had already deployed effort towards creating an enabling environment for trade and growth of the local industry through policy interventions.
Delegates were also expected to confront the lack of progress in addressing critical constraints to inclusive industrialisation and regional value chains, the implications of Covid on inclusive industrialisation, manufacturing and regional value chain development in Southern Africa.
Panelists are also deliberating on best models for harnessing emerging opportunities for industrial and private sector development in Southern Africa, the implications of the AfCFTA on regional and national industrialisation strategies and cross-border cooperation in industrial and manufacturing development.