Minister of Trade Sosten Gwengwe has said Intra- Africa trade presents a rare opportunity for Malawi to tap from regional trade and boost the country’s trade performance.
He said this on Monday in Blantyre during the High Level 2021 Intra- Africa Trade Fair 2021 road show themed Promoting Malawi-Africa Trade and Investment under the AfCFTA [African Continental Free Trade Agreement].
Gwengwe said though issues of financing remain a challenge for the private sector in Malawi, it is pleasing that the private sector continues to push for regional trade.
He said: “We are pleased to see the private sector taking interest in intra- Africa trade which is crucial and has direct benefits for the country. We urge them to continue with the momentum.”
In his remarks , Afreximbank regional chief operating officer Humphrey Nwugo said contrary to most country’s fears, on other countries benefiting more than others, intra-Africa and free trade agreements will benefit all in the long-run.
He said people do not know what they can buy from other countries, adding the upcoming fair slated for November 15 to 21 in South Africa is a good avenue for countries to congregate to showcase what they have and identify what they can get from others.
“ Ultimately, the expectation is that each country will benefit because each country, including Malawi, has their unique products. We are thus not worried that any country will be left behind but hopeful that each country will benefit especially if they innovate,” said Nwugo.
On his part, Reserve Bank of Malawi Governor Wilson Banda said advised the private sector to focus more on innovation.
He said: “We have always said for Malawi to be competitive, we need to produce not just the quantities but the quality as well. To have the quality, we need innovation, technology and all that can improve the quality of our products.”
In his speech, Public Private Dialogue Forum chairperson Vizenge Kumwenda said the private sector is upbeat on intra-Africa trade as AfCFTA presents limitless opportunities for Malawi.
“AfCFTA is calling on investors and the private to operate beyond the national boundaries and this is something most private sector is not used to,” he said.
Malawi ratified the AfCFTA earlier this year, consenting to the market, where 54 African member States will be trading among each other with reduced or removed taxes on certain products.
The AfCFTA is set to create the biggest free trade area in the world with a market of more than 1.2 billion people and a combined gross domestic product of more than $2.5 trillion.