In a move to ensure that Malawi fully benefits from the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism says it is developing a National Implementation Strategy.
The ministry’s spokesperson Mayeso Msokera said in a written response on Wednesday that the Malawi AfCFTA National Strategy will have to be validated by all stakeholders by end of December this year.
He said: “The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa [ECA] assured the Government of Malawi of continued technical and financial support in assisting the country in the process of developing the strategy and ratifying the agreement.
“The strategy will, among other things, identify the potential value chains, trade opportunities, current constraints, measures and strategies to implement if Malawi is to take full advantage of the regional and global markets that will be created through the AfCFTA.”
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Malawi could be one of the top four economies to reap gains from AfCFTA, a market of 55 countries with an estimated combined gross domestic product (GDP) of $2.5 trillion, once it ratifies the agreement.
ECA regional director for Southern Africa Said Adejumobi earlier explained that AfCFTA will complement government’s efforts to diversify the economy, promote manufacturing and stimulate agricultural production with an increased and expanded market, which should offer great opportunities for agro-processing.
On the possible concerns in ratifying the AfCFTA, he said: “I am sure there are fears and concerns on the issue of ratifying the AfCFTA. Some of those could include the fear of competitiveness, especially of local industries in a much-liberalised market, the issue of jobs associated with it and government revenue.
“Those fears are more perceived than real. There is need to be better informed to understand why we should be part of the AfCFTA process.”
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) has on a number of occasions said local businesses are not yet ready for AfCFTA due to lack of competitiveness.
MCCCI chief executive officer Chancellor Kaferapanjira in an earlier interview said the major source of competitiveness is electricity, which the industry does not have; hence, rendering the country uncompetitive.
AfCFTA covers a population of over one billion, 60 percent of whom are below the age of 25 years, presenting a wide market for Malawi’s products.